SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- Following his first full-contact practice with the Golden State Warriors' G League affiliate, DeMarcus Cousins said he is not worried about how his surgically repaired Achilles will hold up.
Cousins is nearing a return to the court for the first time since rupturing his left Achilles tendon on Jan. 26 while with the New Orleans Pelicans. The big man went through three six- to seven-minute quarters of full-contact 5-on-5 in a practice with the Santa Cruz Warriors on Monday.
Cousins said his conditioning wasn't as bad as he thought, but his rhythm wasn't where it needed to be, and he isn't concerned about his Achilles.
"I mean ... I feel like if my life depended on it at the moment, yeah, I could go out and play a game," Cousins said after the practice. "I want to be 100 percent or as close to 100 percent as I can be when I do return. I want my body in tip-top shape. It is not even about the Achilles, it's just about my other body parts and making sure everything is fine-tuned and in the best shape possible to go out and play a full game."
"[There was] no nervousness at all," Cousins later added when asked about his Achilles holding up. "I'm more worried about pulling a hammy or something like that. It's been a while since I've played and reacted. The Achilles is the least of my worries."
DeMarcus Cousins after his first practice with the Warriors GLeague team pic.twitter.com/NbI1zZXUdB— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) December 10, 2018
Cousins let out a few expletives after missing some 3-point shots during post-practice shooting drills, but the Warriors' big man said he's in a better place mentally than he was at times during this difficult and trying recovery process.
"It's been extremely humbling," Cousins said. "It's really tested me as a person, as a man, as an athlete. I've had a lot of dark days, a lot of good days. I've questioned myself a lot. But I found a way to overcome all those bad feelings. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I am extremely excited to get back on the floor. The sooner the better. I can see the light. I am extremely excited about that."
Cousins said he has spoken with NBA players who have suffered similar injuries, including Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant, Wes Matthews and Rudy Gay, among others.
Cousins said it was good for him to go up against athletic NBA prospects compared to the runs he has gotten in with some of the Warriors assistants recently. With limited time to practice, the Warriors opted to send Cousins to Santa Cruz to get more extensive practice time.
DeMarcus Cousins getting in some conditioning drills in after practice in Santa Cruz pic.twitter.com/DxfK5eFRDH— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) December 10, 2018
Cousins also practiced with his little brother for the first time. Jaleel Cousins is on the Santa Cruz roster.
"DeMarcus looked good," Santa Cruz coach Aaron Miles said. "He looked OK ... get some live action ... got up and down a little bit for him. ... It was good for our team to look at different lineups, [and] he was good."
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the plan for Cousins "will just be kind of day-to-day. He could go back down [to Santa Cruz] this week sometime, but we'll see."
The Warriors don't have an exact target date for Cousins' return.
"To be honest, it's really coming more from [Director of Sports Medicine and Performance] Rick [Celebrini] than from our doctors," Kerr said. "I think DeMarcus feels pretty good, and I think the Achilles is healing nicely, but it's an injury that is unique in that your movement is really affected. Running and moving when you are dealing with a sprained ankle or knee strain is one thing, but with an Achilles, from what I understand, and I have spoken with Jonas [Jerebko] about as well, it's just different. You kind of have to get your bearings, and that takes some time.
"You are also dealing with DeMarcus, who is an enormous man. He's really carrying a lot of weight, strength and size, and that complicates matters, I think. We want to make sure he's really comfortable with his conditioning and movement before we put him out there. Everything has come along nicely. This is not about a doctor saying he can't play. It's more about when he's ready to go out there and perform well."
Cousins is happy to be nearing a return after all he has gone through.
"I'm past those parts, those moments," Cousins said of the low moments he experienced during the rehab. "I've learned from them. I've grown from them. I've grown a lot through this process.
"My mind has expanded a lot, so I'm extremely grateful for this game," he added. "All I want to do is get back out there and play the game I love to play."