OAKLAND, Calif. -- New Golden State Warriors big man DeMarcus Cousins still has no target date set for his return as he continues to recover from a left Achilles injury suffered Jan. 26. Cousins, who signed a one-year deal with the Warriors in July, admits that months of rehab has been a "grind," but he's confident he will return to his All-Star form once he gets back on the floor.
"I'm feeling a lot better than I was seven months ago," Cousins said during Monday's media day. "You know, it's been a grind. It's been an adventure to say the least. But I'm in a lot better place now. Physically I'm coming along great. As of right now, hasn't been any setbacks, and I feel a lot stronger. I'm getting my feet back under me, and I'm starting to feel like an athlete again."
The former Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans center says the biggest motivating factor for him in the process is hearing from all the people who are doubting whether he can return to his pre-injury form.
"The haters," Cousins said. "That's all I need. I feed off of it. I love it."
Cousins and the Warriors dealt with backlash from some fans over the summer after the 28-year-old signed with the two-time defending champs. Cousins, who was in line for a max extension with the Pelicans prior to the injury, acknowledges that it is difficult to sit and watch as his teammates get ready for the season.
"I'm stubborn as hell," Cousins said. "I thought I knew that before, but I'm really starting to realize it now. My drive has only increased. I'm seriously like a madman right now. I think you guys will see a new DeMarcus on the floor. I can't wait to get to that point just to show all the work I have put in, into this injury. I think you'll see it when the product is on the floor."
Warriors general manager Bob Myers said that Cousins is "progressing well" from the injury and is "on schedule," but isn't able to go full speed yet. Myers said the Warriors will have another update on Cousins in four weeks. He also made it clear that Cousins will play whenever his body allows him, wherever the Warriors might be in the schedule.
"I know there's a narrative that we'll save DeMarcus for the playoffs. That's inaccurate," Myers said. "When he can play, he'll play. We won't rush him, but we also won't hold him back. We need time for him to acclimate; we need to acclimate for him. But it's an exciting thing for our whole team to look forward to."
On top of the chatter surrounding Cousins' future, another subplot from Monday's media day was the lack of attendance by media members compared to the scene coming from LeBron James' first media day with the Los Angeles Lakers. After years in the brightest spotlight the league has to offer, the Warriors didn't seem to mind that James and his new teammates were getting so much attention.
"It's new," two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant said. "Everybody loves something new. I mean, we've been here for -- this is our third year together now, so you guys kind of know who we are and have shown things. Obviously us having DeMarcus, but I think him not playing early on is taking away a little bit of allure of us as a team from a media perspective, I guess. But it's the same ol' story with us, same ol' personalities, and we are who we are when you walk in here, and just having a whole new team down in Los Angeles, just gutting that whole team out and bringing in the biggest face in basketball and sports, obviously that's going to be a sexier story."
Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala agreed.
"I do think that actually helps us a little bit," Iguodala said. "It's not as much of a circus. You just enjoy the day-to-day being around the guys. You can kind of be relaxed a little bit. Don't always have to be looking around, see who is looking at you from afar and kind of keying in on your every move and everything won't be a headline coming from here. There's other places where the media will be locked in on. So actually see it as a positive."