The Golden State Warriors may have to keep playing with four All-Stars in their starting lineup instead of five for the immediate future.
According to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle, it is "probably more plausible" big man DeMarcus Cousins will return to the court in February than around New Year's Day as he recovers from the Achilles injury he suffered last season as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.
"That's why we still don't have a timetable," Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said. "He needs to feel confident with the Achilles, his conditioning, his rhythm, his timing and everything else. We're not going to rush him back. We're going to help him through that process. When it happens, it happens."
Letourneau noted Cousins hasn't suffered a setback, but Santa Cruz Warriors head coach Aaron Miles said he is "probably not moving as well as he wants to right now" after the big man practiced with the Warriors' G League affiliate.
There is no reason for the Warriors to rush him back, considering their position in the standings and status as the league's modern-day dynasty.
Even though Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have missed significant time with injuries, and a rift between Kevin Durant and Green led to the latter's suspension and plenty of headlines, the Warriors are still 19-10 and tied with the Denver Nuggets atop the Western Conference.
They'll eventually operate on all cylinders come playoff time with Curry, Durant, Cousins, Green and Klay Thompson in the lineup, but they are more than just treading water while they wait for the big man's return.
When he comes back, Cousins will give Golden State a four-time All-Star who averaged 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per night last season. He can play with pace and shoot from the outside in the Warriors' small-ball attack but also deal with some of the league's best bigs in the paint.
He will be yet another weapon for the two-time defending champions, and they surely know it is more important to have him on the floor in April, May and June than January.