Time to raise a red flag? Kerr's tone on Draymond's injury changes

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AP

Time to raise a red flag? Kerr's tone on Draymond's injury changes

OAKLAND -- When a defending NBA champion goes without an All-Star for a game or three in the first half of the season, it’s not necessarily significant.

When it extends beyond a week without any discernable timetable for his return, it’s time to raise the red flag.

That’s where the Warriors are with Draymond Green and his ailing right shoulder. Something is wrong and there has been no interpretation, much less an expressed diagnosis.

Green’s absence Monday night in Los Angeles, where the Warriors face the Lakers, will be the third in a row and fifth in the last six for the starting power forward. Unlike center Zaza Pachulia, who also has missed the last three games, Green has not participated in any basketball activities while sidelined.

If Green can’t take the court, in any way, that’s cause for concern. He lives to play the game.

“Draymond’s not happy. I can tell you that,” coach Steve Kerr said Sunday. “He’s happiest when he’s on the floor, hair on fire, screaming at everybody and competing. It’s been hard on him.

“But Draymond also knows that this is the smart approach. So he’s not complaining. But I wouldn’t call him happy, either.”

All of which explains why when discussing Green’s condition with the Warriors, the tone in recent days has shifted from relative unconcern to apparent apprehension.

“It just got sore, probably wear and tear,” Kerr said. “There’s nothing we can do about it. I don’t spend any time worrying about it. When he’s ready, he’s ready. He’ll be all right. I’m sure of that.”

Though the mystery around Green’s shoulder woes would seem to merit an MRI test, none has been scheduled, according to Kerr, who described Green’s status as “day to day.”

Meanwhile, with Green and Pachulia out, the Warriors are wading knee-deep in contingencies.

Rookie Jordan Bell and veteran Omri Casspi have started the last two games and filled the majority the minutes that normally would go to Pachulia and Green. Kevon Looney can fill in at center. The Warriors on Sunday activated center Damian Jones from G-League Santa Cruz, and he will be available against the Lakers.

The injury issues and contingencies don’t end there. With starting point guard Stephen Curry already out -- he’s scheduled for reevaluation Tuesday -- primary backup Shaun Livingston will be sidelined, too, with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.

“It’s got to be as beaten up as we’ve ever been since I’ve been here,” Kerr said. “I don’t remember having this many guys out, particularly starters. It’s all part of it and we’ve handled it really well. It’s created some opportunities for other guys.”

Though the Warriors are comfortable running their offense through several available players, including Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant, the bulk of the point guard minutes will go to second-year guard Pat McCaw and Quinn Cook, who is in his third season bouncing between the G-League and the NBA.

Cook is on a two-way contract with the Warriors, which means he can spend up 45 days in the NBA before the team has to decide whether to offer a standard contract.

“The way the season is going, we’ll probably use all 45 of his days by the end of the year,” Kerr said.

Though half the regular rotation will be out of action, there is some good news for the Warriors: guard Nick Young, who has participated in the last two practices, is expected to clear the NBA’s concussion protocol and be available to face his former team at Staples Center.

Warriors embrace playing second fiddle to Kobe for one final night

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AP

Warriors embrace playing second fiddle to Kobe for one final night

OAKLAND -- The NBA’s No. 1 road attraction will be reduced to fine print on the marquee Monday night in Los Angeles.

Sure, the house will be packed when the Warriors invade Staples Center. It’s the hottest ticket in the league this season, a gala evening that undoubtedly will receive Hollywood embellishments, searchlights for sure and maybe even a red carpet.

It’s Kobe Bryant Night at Staples Center. Both of the legend’s jersey numbers, 24 and 8, are being retired. So while the Warriors are there for the business of defeating the current Lakers, they’ll also be carrying memories of the past.

Win or lose, they will have a chance to enjoy the halftime ceremony. Lakers president Jeanie Buss extended the invitation Saturday, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr plans to accept it.

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Said Nick Young, a former teammate Bryant with the Lakers, of witnessing the ceremony: “That would be dope.”

Most of the Warriors have competed against Bryant, though Kevin Durant and Young have closer associations. Bryant and Durant over time formed a relationship as members of the league’s unofficial superstar club.

Durant has a particularly bittersweet memory from his rookie season with the Seattle SuperSonics in 2007-08, the year Bryant captured his only MVP award.

The Lakers took a 123-121 victory in overtime in Seattle and Durant’s memory of Bryant’s evening -- 48 points, 44 field-goal attempts, game-winning shot -- were perfect. Yet Durant came away feeling he had learned a more valuable lesson.

“It was my first taste of fourth-quarter basketball in the NBA, and (Bryant) fouled me all of the way up until I got the ball,” Durant recalled. “It was a blatant foul, and the referee just stared at him, looked at him, and didn’t call it. I was like, that’s what happens when you’re Kobe and you can do that stuff.

“It was a level I knew I had to get to, and that’s what made me realize that there’s certain players on different levels, and that you have to wait to get to that point. It made me realize it early with Kobe. So it was a great early lesson for me.”

Young, who spent three seasons as Bryant’s teammate in LA, recalled Bryant’s pointed jabs at teammates, unwillingness to tolerate fools and a semi-playful side of the man nicknamed Mamba.

After Bryant’s memorable final game -- a 60-point performance in a 101-96 win over the Jazz on April 13, 2016 -- Young approached Bryant with a pair shoes in hopes of getting an autograph. They were the wrong brand.

Kobe was a Nike guy, Young came with Adidas.

Bryant flipped the shoes into the trash bin.

“That’s Kobe,” Young said, grinning. “I knew something like that was going to happen if I went to him with some Adidas.

“But he did sign some Nikes that I had. And I have that stat sheet.”

Durant, having joined the MVP club in 2014, saw his relationship evolve to the point where they were dinner companions on Bryant’s last trip to Oklahoma City in 2016.

“The stuff we were talking about was next level, just what he wanted to do when he was done playing, his visions as a businessman, how he wanted to leave his mark as a basketball ambassador,” Durant recalled. “There was so much we talked about, and it made me appreciate his intelligent mind.”

Bryant retired as the league’s No. 3 all-time scorer (33,643 points), just ahead of Michael Jordan (32,292) but behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928). Bryant is a five-time NBA champion who was selected for 18 All-Star games. He is a lock to enter the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

And now, 20 months after he retired, his jerseys will be raised into the rafters at Staples Center.

“Kobe is obviously one of my favorite players, one of the best players to play this game,” Young said. “I know I had a chance to play with him, so I would want to see his number go up there.”

For one night, as a retired legend gets top billing, the Warriors don’t mind merely blending into the scenery.

Curry takes another stride in recovery, but 'little bit concerning' with Draymond

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AP

Curry takes another stride in recovery, but 'little bit concerning' with Draymond

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry felt good enough Saturday to step onto the court for a light workout, putting up a few shots after the Warriors concluded practice.

Draymond Green, not so much.

Though the Warriors have been downplaying the seriousness of Green’s aching right shoulder, which has kept him out of three of the last four games, coach Steve Kerr concedes the level of worry is rising by the day.

“At first, it didn’t seem like it would be more than a few days, and it’s obviously carried on further than that,” Kerr said. “So it’s a little bit concerning that he hasn’t made bigger strides.

“I still don’t think there’s a major reason for concern.”

Green has played only once since Dec. 4. After missing the Dec. 6 game at Charlotte, the Michigan native played, and quite well, on Dec. 8 at Detroit. He has not since taken the court. He was on the premises Saturday. An update on his status is expected Sunday, a team spokesman said.

Curry has missed the last four games with a sprained right ankle. He is scheduled for reevaluation sometime in the middle of next week. The Warriors would be thrilled if he’s able to return before the end of the month.

In other health-related news, starting center Zaza Pachulia participated in practice and but still is listed as questionable for the game against the Lakers on Monday in Los Angeles. His left shoulder has kept him out four of the last five games.

Reserve guard Nick Young also went though practice workout but has yet to pass the final test to be cleared from concussion protocol.