How DeMarcus Cousins Fits Warriors' Vibe, Kevon Looney Handles Change

Editor's note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag, presented by Toyota. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith


Before the Lakers game Monday, I asked Klay Thompson about the good things the Warriors were putting together on the court, resulting in a seven-game win streak at the time. Klay said: "Let's get double digits. Haven't done that all year."

The Warriors have their sights on making this win streak a big one. After beating the Wizards on Thursday, they have a chance to get the win streak up to 10 games -- double digits! -- against the Celtics on Saturday.

Game On!

@s_wissy Has the energy changed with the team now that they're on this win streak & Boogie is playing? #askKerith

The energy was improving leading up to the win streak because the Warriors were healthy and finding their rhythm on offense. Those two simple things steer so much of the outcome. There's another simple factor: Winning is fun!

The vibe around the team is great right now, but truthfully, there have been only a few moments when the vibe wasn't great. The Warriors do a good job keeping an even keel.

The players love having DeMarcus Cousins in the mix. He's hilarious, honest, talented and determined to have a strong season after going through one of the longest rehabs in the game. His teammates are rooting for him.

Draymond Green mentioned at practice that the timing of Boogie's return was advantageous. He explained: "To come back at a time when we were rolling allows him to come back to get his legs under him. He can get his feel back for the game after a year off, as opposed to trying to come back to be that piece to right the ship."

The Warriors are like the rest of the NBA looking at this roster and thinking ... whoa. They have every reason to dominate, and following through on that domination is the goal for a three-peat.

@NYBORN2009 How much playing time will Looney have with Cousins in the line up now??

Kevon Looney still is a valuable piece in the rotation. He is a reliable center who does his job well every night, and Steve Kerr praised Looney as the ultimate professional. While Boogie's minutes likely will stay around the 15- to 20-minute mark as he continues to ramp up his comfort level, Looney is right there as the next man up with about 20 minutes of his own. More if Boogie gets in foul trouble.

I asked Looney about his role changing now that Boogie is the starter. Loon told me: "I'm cool coming off the bench. It won't take me long. My role is pretty much the same ... gotta come in, bring the energy, play hard defense and rebound."

Looney noted he was coming off the bench when Damian Jones was starting, so changes don't bother him. He continued: "Boogie's a former All-Star. He's supposed to start, so I'll help our team any way."

@JTMyersNV99 Will the Warriors make any trade deadline deals, or just stand pat where they're at? Seems they could use some more depth with some of the injuries they've had this year.

@Cukoo4u Do they still have an open roster spot and what will they do with it?

There's a reason the Warriors have kept the 15th roster spot open. They want to examine options to make them even stronger heading into playoffs. They are evaluating their needs, primarily at center and wing, and exploring who's out there.

That said ... remember how many centers the Warriors carried last season and how strongly JaVale McGee's name was out there on the trading block? That doesn't mean it wasn't true, but nothing came of those talks. Trade talks can be a flurry of conversations that are serious but ultimately yield nothing.

Keep in mind the Warriors want to three-peat AND make wise decisions for future seasons, potentially strengthening a youth movement that has stumbled with DJ injured, Patrick McCaw leaving, Jacob Evans needing room to grow and Jordan Bell getting sporadic minutes.

@xensen @AngryECW @johnpfreem @sf_game @C_King47 @C_King47 @casarezjack @jcase28 and others asked about what happened between Steve Kerr and Jordan Bell when TNT's cameras caught them in a heated moment on Monday during the game against the Lakers.

If you click the link above, Warriors insider Monte Poole wrote about the dust-up in detail. There are a few things I'd like to add.

First, I don't know exactly what Kerr and Bell said to each other. But I do know being in L.A. is special for Bell. He's from Long Beach. He went to high school about 25 miles from Staples Center. He grew up a Lakers fan. Anytime there's a homecoming game, a player wants to perform well. Bell didn't check in until the fourth quarter. He played seven minutes and went 1 of 5 on field-goal attempts.

I remember a conversation I had with Bell last season. The Warriors were about to play the Bulls, and Lauri Markkanen was leading all rookies in minutes. Bell and Markkanen were both Pac-12 guys and in the same NBA draft class. I asked Bell if he'd rather play more minutes on a struggling team or get fewer minutes on a great team like the Warriors. He said he'd rather be with the Warriors. I wonder if Bell was thinking about this during the championship parade.

Bell sees the big picture. Part of that big picture is recognizing where he is in the pecking order.

@evevsworld Hi Kerith! Can you tell us what the "booster" chairs do for the players physically? More players seem to be using them on the bench. Thanks from Concord, MA!

The boosters are big foam blocks that some of the players sit on while they're on the bench. The bench seats are low, so the players sit on the blocks to be more comfortable and get better alignment for their ankles, knees and backs. One of the Warriors' trainers described it as a yoga block for NBA players. Without it, tall guys might sit awkwardly with their knees up to their elbows.

@dartcatcher What is the favorite travel time-eater on road trips?#askKerith

For me, the routine is regular because it's a work trip. It typically goes get off the plane, bus to practice, bus to the hotel, workout, eat, study game notes, sleep. Wake up, shoot-around, eat, game. We might have 36 to 48 hours in a city. I might disappoint people with this boring answer, but that doesn't leave much time for sight-seeing or visiting friends.

When I do get a moment, I like to go to museums or walk around the cities. Most of the downtown areas we see have historic landmarks.

As far as what the players do, they often stick to a routine that adds in massages or other treatments. Some have business meetings or charity events they do on the road. They might golf or hit up their favorite local restaurants. They also take time with their families when they can. The L.A. trip was a big one for families.

High Five

This week's High Five goes to Cousins' girlfriend, "my lady," he lovingly called her in the postgame interview room, when he explained who helped him get his mind right when he was nervous to play in his first game back from his year-long rehab.

View this post on Instagram

Trials & Tribulations

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on Jan 20, 2019 at 11:18am PST

She sent him a photo she took where he was in a wheelchair, not long after surgery, looking out at a sunset. Boogie said she reminded him how far he's come. He posted the picture the morning after his season debut against the Clippers with the caption "Trials & Tribulations."

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors coverage all season.

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