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NBA notes: DeMarcus Cousins will start when he's ready to return for Warriors

DeMarcus Cousins will start immediately for coach Steve Kerr when the All-Star center makes his long-awaited Warriors debut in about a week following a lengthy recovery from surgery on a torn left Achilles’ tendon.

Cousins has targeted Golden State's game Jan. 18 at the Clippers as his return date and first game of the season, though Kerr said it could even be sooner if all continues going well — perhaps even against his former New Orleans team at home next Wednesday.

“The idea is we have to give ourselves a little leeway,” Kerr said Thursday. “That Clipper game is sort of the one we've targeted but we should give ourselves some leeway on either side, because we have to see how the next week goes. I suppose it's a possibility that it could be New Orleans, maybe there's a possibility it's whoever's after the Clippers Lakers. That's the range that we're looking at.”

The coaching staff has spent the past couple of weeks more intensely planning for Cousins' return and how he will be incorporated into different rotations throughout games, while also holding regular discussions with Cousins about the plan.

“It's a relief. It's been a long year for me, a lot of ups and downs,” Cousins said after practice Thursday. “But the finish line is ahead and I'm extremely excited to be back on the floor.

The big man has made significant strides with his condition in recent scrimmages, showing Kerr and the Warriors medical staff he is nearly ready to play in games again.

Cousins tore his Achilles late last January and it prematurely ended his season with the Pelicans. Before the injury, Cousins averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 48 games.

The 28-year-old Cousins doesn't expect to dominate from Day 1, especially playing in a lineup that will feature four other All-Stars — Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Kerr said he hasn't thought about the star-studded lineup yet, knowing there's still half the season to go for Cousins to get comfortable and acclimated.

Not that the fiery Cousins, known for drawing technical fouls, will change. He loves that Kerr and Green and the others love to show their emotions during games.

“Same person. I play with a chip on my shoulder,” Cousins said. “I use different things as fuel to keep me moving forward. I'm going to use the same things. I'm looking forward to proving myself on the floor.”

Nance might miss a month

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. could miss a month with a sprained right knee ligament, another blow to the NBA's worst team.

Nance was injured during the first quarter of Tuesday night's loss to Indiana and didn't return. The team said an MRI taken Thursday confirmed that he sprained his medial collateral ligament, and that he will be out for a minimum of two weeks.

The 26-year-old Nance did not play Wednesday night in New Orleans as the Cavaliers lost their 11th straight game, the opener of a six-game trip. Cleveland has been riddled with injuries all season, and at just 8-34 has the league's worst record.

Nance, who came to Cleveland last season in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, signed a four-year, $45 million contract extension in October. He's averaging 8.8 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Carter still undecided on future

Vince Carter looked up at the highlights, enjoying the view of himself back in the days when he was among the NBA's highest flyers. He's about to turn 42, now in his 21st season, and he doesn't jump quite like the guy being shown on overhead screens.

The Nets honored Carter, who is the oldest active player, with a tribute video during their game against Atlanta, a way to say thank you for his 4 1/2 seasons with the franchise.

“It was great. Any time you can see old video of when you were young and spry and springy and all of that good stuff, I mean, it's always great to see,” Carter said.

Good times, yes. But was it goodbye?

Carter hasn't said if he plans to retire following the season. He would make NBA history if he returns, as nobody has played 22 seasons in the league.

So was the video premature?

“I'm OK with it. Either way it's cool,” he said with a smile. “I'm very thankful for it, that they even considered it. When it was mentioned to me I was like, `You've got to be kidding me.’”

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