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Tech please: How DeMarcus Cousins’ attitude could affect Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Steve Kerr, and NBA officiating

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Cousins’ temperament is a new wrinkle on a team that already requires substantial ego management.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Other than winning championships and clowning on opponents, earning technical fouls is a defining feature of the Golden State Warriors. Technical fouls are baked into Draymond Green’s DNA like chocolate chips into a cookie. Kevin Durant has also made it a habit of picking up his fair share of techs. And Coach Steve Kerr is also no stranger to the “T”,

On Friday night, All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins will debut with the Golden State Warriors. Cousins is a complicated figure. Despite his out-of-this-world talent, he is also defined by his volatile attitude.

Cousins’ temperament is important because the Warriors will inevitably play in high-stakes games this season decided by one or two points. And while we accept technical fouls to be a part of Draymond Green’s identity, giving away free points and upsetting referees in a league with increasing parity from the three-point shot can be the difference between a win and a loss.

So, by adding Cousins and launching into the next stages of “light years ahead”, the Warriors will likely give away more free points from technical fouls and upset more referees.

Foul to the moon

Last season, Cousins finished tied for 14th in the NBA for most techs. But here’s the thing: he missed half the season. Before his injury last season, Cousins had finished in the top 10 of total technical fouls in each season of his career, including a three-peat at the number two on the list (2015-2017).

The zen of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson allow Draymond Green to act like a lightning rod. The Splash Brothers balance Green’s angst with their unflappability. But, by adding Boogie, the Warriors stars, coaches, and referees will all be forced to adjust to a new normal: more barking and complaining from teammates. Here’s what the new normal means for a few key people.

Kevin Durant

Durant is entering Friday night with eight technical fouls—eighth in the league. By adding Boogie into the lineup, Durant becomes the temperamental x-factor of the Warriors’ stars. With Curry and Thompson on one end of the venn diagram, and Cousins and Green on the other, Durant will possess the power to push refs over the edge or act as the mature older brother when Green and Cousins jump the shark.

Unabashed prediction: By adding Boogie into the lineup, look for Durant to push the limits of referees less and less. Referees can handle two players constantly in their ears. Three might be too many.

Draymond Green

It’s unlikely that Draymond will ever change at all but there’s something important to note: Green and Cousins communicate with refs in opposite ways. Draymond screams. Draymond swears. Draymond treats refs like lesser beings. Cousins on the other hand has historically reacted to bad calls more like an impish child who just lost TV privileges. See the evidence below.

Maybe Cousins will learn a thing or two from Draymond or maybe Draymond can play bad cop on behalf of Cousins. Whatever happens, Green and Cousins are soulmates. It’s them against the world. And that will always be the case.

Case 1: DeMarcus Cousins (the “aww man, It wasn’t even me” strategy)

Case 2: Draymond Green (the “I’m gonna curse you out until your ears fall off” strategy)

Steve Kerr

Kerr has developed a strong working relationship with Green. And he seems to understand what motivates different players. His (likely) short-term fling with Cousins is a storyline I’m fascinated to see unfold. Will he provide the same freedom to Cousins as Green or will he try pacifying him? I’m not predicting how this unfolds because I’ve already made too many predictions. I lack insider knowledge, so I’ll spare you.

Referees

Nevermind. Here’s some more unsolicited speculation: I expect there to be a night—in the next 4-6 weeks—where a Warriors player or coach gets an early ejection. Given how Green and Cousins wear down referees, an official will be chomping at the bit to send an early message to the Warriors: despite your superiority, we won’t be bullied.

DeMarcus Cousins is the fifth messiah on a team of basketball gods. But he won’t answer all of our prayers. His temperament is part of who he is, and we should be prepared for the Warriors to take time and work out the personnel kinks.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be fun. Welcome to the Bay, Boogie.