End of preseason schedule poses test for Warriors


End of preseason schedule poses test for Warriors

Not once did the Warriors complain about their obligations during a weeklong swing through China that, truth be told, they’d rather have avoided.

As splendid as they looked Sunday in a 142-110 blowout of Minnesota, the Warriors returned to Oakland with eight days to recover from jet lag from two 7,000-mile trips in seven days, fend off any lingering fatigue and have a few productive practices before taking the court Friday for their final exhibition game.

When the regular season opens Oct. 17 there will be an immediate sprint, with the retooled Houston Rockets coming to Oracle Arena.

If the Warriors start slowly, this trip logically would be a contributing factor.

The Warriors, players and coaches, conceded that the offseason felt particularly short. They opened training camp on Sept. 23, the same day as the Timberwolves, but Minnesota’s 2016-17 NBA season ended a full two months earlier.

That’s why this China trek was so challenging, even though the Warriors excelled in the role of basketball ambassadors, smiling, signing autographs and playfully engaging local fans while dragging themselves across multiple time zones. They’re the most popular team in the league, generally amiable and reigning champs. It’s obvious why the league selected them as representatives.

“It’s just counter-productive in a way,” Shaun Livingston, speaking of the journey, told reporters in Shanghai, “because of the schedule and because it’s more than just the basketball part.”

The Warriors went through this only upon request. This was not something they would have chosen to undertake, even though they’re too diplomatic to say so. They simply accepted the challenge even while aware of potential pitfalls.

“This is about a cultural experience, about sharing NBA basketball with our fans in China,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s a great trip, a great experience, but this is not the way to prepare for the season.

“But that’s all right. We’ll have about a week when we get back, and I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

Insofar as he coaches a team of professionals, Kerr is probably right. They will be fine. But there is no way of knowing whether that will be next week or next month. There is no knowing how long they’ll have a China hangover.

Understand, the Warriors have nothing against China or the Chinese. Some players brought their families along. The team’s four All-Stars -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson -- make regular trips -- 15-hour flights each way -- and really seem to enjoy it.

No, this is about a team that can only hope there will be no residual effect from its second trip to China in four seasons.

This is about a team coming off three of the longest seasons in league history, the most recent ending June 12 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

A team that, even without a postseason, consistently ranks among the top five in air miles traveled over the course of a season.

A team that, including the postseason, has flown more miles than any other over the past three seasons.

Any NBA team spending a week of its preseason in China, or anyplace else far beyond the United States, is forced to make adjustments to its routine. The Warriors spent less time on the court than meeting team and individual commitments off it.

“It’s a huge problem,” Green told reporters. “You kind of take training camp and break it up. It’s not the norm, so I think it’s a humongous problem.

“You start to risk injury and all of those things . . . so we have a pretty professional team. Guys get their work in, but it’s still nothing like actual practicing and that tempo. It’s more a risk of injury than the season. We’ll figure it out over the season.”

Oh, they certainly will. After all, they’re the deepest, most talented team in the NBA. They’ll recover. What’s uncertain is when.

How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'

Back in late October, the Warriors declined their $2.3 million team option on Kevon Looney for the 2018-19 season.

How did that make him feel?

"It was kind of a let down," Looney told Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast. "I knew it was up in the air. It was going back and forth, back and forth. When they didn't pick it up -- they told me why, I understood, I've been here for three years, I've seen a lot of players come and go; I know basketball is a business -- I was kind of let down.

"But I knew I was going to try and make the most of it. Now I'm playing for my contract for next year. I just wanted to go prove myself. I knew this summer there was a lot of doubts about what I could do. People were doubting if I would even be in the NBA still ... I knew what I was capable of."

Looney underwent surgery on his right hip in August 2015, and appeared in just five games during his rookie season.

He then had surgery on his left hip in April 2016, and appeared in 53 games (8.4 minutes per night) during the 2016-17 season.

This year, he's averaging career highs in points (3.5), rebounds (2.9), blocks (0.7) and minutes (12.0).

"This summer, I decided I just wanted to try go back to the way I played in college. It's been working for me," Looney explained. "I lost about 30 pounds this offseason and it's really made me a lot faster and a lot quicker. And I've been staying healthy."

How did he drop all that weight?

"A lot of broccoli and turkey and plain food. Food that wasn't that good but it's something that I had to get used to," Looney said. "Taco Bell, fried chicken, I was eating that on the regular ... coming off of injury, you can't eat like that. It's a different level of intensity in the NBA.

"I had to change my diet. Andre (Iguodala) was in my ear for two years about it. I finally listened to him and it paid off."

Looney will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Although the Warriors declined the option, the 22-year old could return to Golden State -- but the max amount the Warriors can offer him is $2.3 million.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Report: During players-only meeting, Spurs implore Kawhi to return to lineup


Report: During players-only meeting, Spurs implore Kawhi to return to lineup

The Kawhi Leonard saga continues to take twists and turns.

After last Saturday night's win over Minnesota, the Spurs had a players-only meeting and implored Kawhi Leonard to return to game action, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

It didn't seem to work.

From Woj:

Leonard, 26, was resolute in response, insisting that he had good reason for sitting out all but nine games with a right quad injury this season, league sources said.

Leonard has targeted games in the recent week, only to decide that he wasn't feeling confident in the injury to return, league sources said.

After San Antonio's shootaround on Wednesday, Manu Ginobili was asked about Kawhi.

"He is not coming back," Ginobili told reporters. "For me, he's not coming back because it's not helping. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it.

"But we have to think that he's not coming back, that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him. That shouldn't be changing, at least until he is ready for the jump ball."

Entering Thursday, the Spurs (42-30) are in 5th place in the Western Conference, three games clear of the 9th-place Nuggets. 

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller