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DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors

Editorials

DeMarcus Cousins’ injury could signify a chance for redemption

Golden State Warriors big DeMarcus Cousins’ recent injury left a sour taste in his mouth, forced to leave the hardwood at the 8:09 mark of the first quarter of Game 2 against the L.A. Clippers. His immediate diagnosis, a serious left quad injury that could see him miss the rest of this playoff run after playing in his first-ever postseason game on Saturday’s Game 1.

Yet this could be a blessing in disguise for the Warriors, who were largely expecting Cousins to sign with a different team this summer after proving he’s still a capable powerhouse in this league.

That all came to rubble after Monday’s game, as his injury now puts him right back in square one and leaves some unfinished business for him to handle with the Warriors.

The door is now open for the Warriors to sign him to another one-year deal this upcoming summer in hopes to complete his redemption story next season.

Golden State’s roster could look vastly different next season, considering Kevin Durant’s potentially inevitable departure and Damian Jones’ return from a season-long injury.

Head coach Steve Kerr expressed ultimate regret for the Warriors’ likely inability to sing Cousins to a long-term deal, and while that predicament still holds true, the possibility that he is open to taking a one-year deal could now be helped by a market depressed by healthy stars like Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker and others who will surely take most of the cap from the frontrunners.

“I just know that — and you can write this — this, to me, could not have worked out any better to this point,” an optimistic Kerr said before the Warriors embarked in their playoff run, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “He’s healthy. He’s confident. And he’s made us a better team. So everyone’s getting what they wanted.”

The coach later reflected in the near-impossible position in which the Warriors could sign him, given his full potential as one of the most dominant players in the game.

“In the end, there’s almost no way we can keep him because it’s going so well. He’s aware of that, we’re aware of that. There’s no time to think about it right now. But when all is said and done, we’re going to be sad to see him go and I think he’s going to be sad to go. Because this is a great situation for both sides.

“There’s just no money. When this summer comes, hopefully not until after the Finals, I’m going to be thrilled for him when another team comes in and offers a ton of money. Because he deserves it. He’s that good. He’s been great for us. I’m going to be happy for him, but sad to see him go.”

All the Warriors could offer him is a $6.4 million one-year deal, a 20% raise of his current salary — a figure that was previously unlikely to keep him in the Bay Area, until his injury happened.

Besides improving his market value, the 6-foot-11 center had more to prove — and all of that has been put on hold due to his recent injury.

Even if he does walk away with a championship trophy by June, this playoff run will feel incomplete for a player that has proved to be a consummate competitor and a great teammate for this roster.

While his quad injury doesn’t guarantee his return to the Bay Area, it leaves the door open for a potential return, as unfinished business is often a reason players of his caliber choose to remain with a team capable of juggernaut potential.

In 30 regular season games with the Warriors, the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins put up 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game — showing he’s still the well-rounded big man he was before his injury.

Boogie could have some offers this summer, but if none of them sound appealing to the long-term range he has in mind for his services, GM Bob Myers is only a call away.

The 28-year-old has received praise from Myers, coach Kerr and owner Joe Lacob during his short stint in Golden State, making a reunion plausible if the starts align over the course of the next few months.