Appreciative Pachulia jokes about All-Star votes: 'You think it's a hack?'

Appreciative Pachulia jokes about All-Star votes: 'You think it's a hack?'

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OAKLAND -- Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia leads all centers in early ballot returns for the upcoming NBA All-Star Game, and Draymond Green couldn’t be happier for his teammate.

Even if Pachulia’s stunning popularity has, at least for now, an effect on Green’s chances to be voted in as a starter for the Western Conference team.

“Shout-out to Zaza,” Green said, grinning Friday morning after shootaround. “Big ups to Zaza.”

The ballot for All-Star Game starters lists two categories: frontcourt and backcourt. Pachulia and Green both are frontcourt players, as is Warriors teammate Kevin Durant. Through returns of Jan. 4, Durant leads all Western Conference frontcourt players with 541,209 votes. Pachulia is second with 439,675.

Green, a member of the 2016 All-Star team, is fifth, with 236,315 votes. In third place is Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, with Pelicans forward/center Anthony Davis is fourth place.

Pachulia, the journeyman center from the Republic of Georgia, is proud of his 14-year NBA career but even prouder of the support he is receiving from his country for the second straight year. With a strong push from social media, Pachulia also balloted inordinately high last season as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

“Do you think it’s a (computer) hack?” Pachulia asked, facetiously, after shootaround.

Pachulia then turned serious, referencing the wars and the politics of Georgia, and acknowledging the national unity and resilience of 3.5 million fellow Georgians.

“All I can do is sit back and enjoy it and be thankful, be really thankful for all of this,” he said. “You can get mad if you want, or you can be happy if you want. But you can’t buy this. It’s a special moment and I really appreciate the support.

“And that’s what I care about. I don’t care about All-Star (status) and the fame that comes with it and the recognition that comes with it. I care about the support and the love I’m getting. It kind of tells me I’m doing something right. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’m doing something for me people, for my community.”

The NBA changed the voting rules in part because of Pachulia’s strong showing last season. Fan voting has been reduced from 100 percent of the equation to 50 percent, with players and media now accounting for 25 percent each in a weighted system.

"It’s the Zaza Rule,” Green said. “I don’t know it’s going to work against that one, though. He has a lot of votes.”

For what it’s worth, Green says he was irritated by Pachulia’s showing last season but now sees it “pretty hilarious,” partly because the two are teammates.

“I’m definitely voting for Zaza,” Green said. “We’re going to start campaigning for him for the (other) players to vote for him, too.”

Balloting concludes on Jan. 16, with the starters announced three days later.

Casspi defends his spot on Warriors, explains why he's not worried about being cut


Casspi defends his spot on Warriors, explains why he's not worried about being cut

OAKLAND -- Like much of the NBA and everyone with an interest in the Warriors, Omri Casspi has watched the emergence of Quinn Cook, who came out of the G-League and is making a strong bid to make the postseason roster.

Casspi, out since spraining his right ankle last Friday against Sacramento, happens to be at or near the top of the list of the tiny group of players that might be dropped should the Warriors decide to add Cook.

The 6-foot-9 veteran forward has heard the chatter.

“First of all, it’s you guys talking,” Casspi said, referring to media. “I don’t really feel it from the organization. At the end of the day, I’m focused on getting healthy and playing. That’s all I can control.

“I feel like the team needs me and know what I can do for the team. My focus is on getting healthy and playing.”

The Warriors have until April 11 to submit their playoff roster.

Casspi’s roster spot is in danger for three reasons.

One, he has lost confidence in his long-distance shooting, which was influential in the team’s decision to sign him to a one-year minimum contract last July.

Two, his defense has been a glaring weakness, with teams attacking him at every opportunity.

Three, he had fallen out of the rotation when the team was fully healthy and didn’t return until after succession of injuries. Casspi exceeded 10 minutes of playing time in only one of the 12 games before injuries to several teammates became a factor.

Stephen Curry’s ankle woes this season, along with Cook’s impressive play, are making a persuasive argument for adding the third-year point guard.

For now, Casspi is determined to get back on court after missing the last two games.

“With my role on this team, when I’m healthy I want to go out there and play, maybe not 100 percent healthy, but close to it,” he said. “That’s what I’m focused on, on feeling good and running up and down and being able to cut and move and be out there again with the guys.”

As Warriors inch closer to full health, Kerr provides update on Durant, Klay


As Warriors inch closer to full health, Kerr provides update on Durant, Klay

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all worked up sweat Wednesday, putting the Warriors ever closer to being whole again.

Only Draymond Green did not full participate in the non-contact practice session, but he’s expected back in a matter of days.

So while the Warriors are a little more than a week away from possibly having the full squad available, they’re starting to feel a little less vulnerable.

“They’re all kind of day-to-day,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Steph is closer to playing than KD and Klay.”

Curry has not played since March 8, when he tweaked his surgically repaired right ankle. He missed the last six games. Durant (rib cartilage injury) and Thompson (right thumb sprain) sustained their injuries on March 11 at Minnesota, though Durant played one more game, March 14, before receiving a diagnosis. Durant missed the last three games, Thompson the last four.

Green sustained a pelvic contusion Monday night at San Antonio, but believes he will be available this weekend, either Friday against Atlanta or Sunday against Utah.

Curry, though, is fully cleared for all activities.

“Steph looks great,” Kerr said. “He’s chomping at the bit. But we’ll see how he responds in the next couple days before we decide whether he plays or not.”

Durant loathes acknowledging pain or injuries, and his return will be dictated by his ability with withstanding the contact inevitable in the course of a game.

“I don’t expect KD to play this week,” Kerr said. “It’s not like a timetable . . . just sort of a feel thing. It’s symptomatic with him.”

Thompson seems, at this point, the furthest away from full activity.

“Klay did some stuff," Kerr said, “but not full participation.”