Warriors

Simple as to why Klay Thompson would consider taking a discount

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USATI

Simple as to why Klay Thompson would consider taking a discount

Klay Thompson’s willingness to consider a discount on his next contract is but the latest squint into why the Warriors are where they are, leaving the other 29 NBA teams brainstorming in despair.

It’s as simple as Thompson really, really liking where he is.

The reasons are as varied as they are legitimate, and they apply to everyone from Bob Myers and Steve Kerr to Nick Young and Omri Casspi.

It’s the culture that was created by co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, is administered by general manager Bob Myers and is splendidly implemented by coach Steve Kerr.

The culture begins with talent, because it’s innate to every thriving culture. Then there is freedom, appreciation and enthusiasm. And the trust; there has to be trust because trust equates to sincere commitment.

And if the winning is the ultimate clincher, the Bay Area/Silicon Valley geography is a fantastic bonus.

That’s how Thompson can visualize taking less than the maximum contract when he becomes a free agent in July 2019.

Asked on the Warriors Plus/Minus podcast with Marcus Thompson II and Tim Kawakami of The Athletic about the possibility of sacrificing a few million dollars in two years, Klay last Friday said he “probably could,” but maybe not as much as Durant, whose off-court earnings are larger than his salary.

“It’s a blessing whatever contract I sign,” Thompson said. “I would definitely consider it ‘cause I don’t want to lose anybody.”

It’s the culture. Every member of the Warriors realizes no other franchise in the league can offer the combination of workplace comfort, open-minded environment, genuine trust, success on the court and opportunity off it.

It explains why Kevin Durant opted out of his contract to become a free agent and then volunteered to take about $10 million less than he deserves for this season.

It explains why Shaun Livingston, who had played for eight different franchises before landing with the Warriors in 2014, never shopped the market upon becoming a free agent in July. Minutes after the window opened, he agreed to return on a three-year deal, with the third year only partially guaranteed.

“You can’t put a price on happiness,” was Livingston’s response when asked about what might be available elsewhere.

The culture also explains why Stephen Curry -- becoming a free agent in July after profoundly outperforming his previous contract -- actually approached Myers wondering if the team would benefit from him taking less than a max deal he so clearly deserved.

Myers, of course, wasn’t having it. Told Curry he was going to get the full max, no ifs, ands or buts -- even if he was willing to take less.

The Warriors culture is also why, even as he entertained other offers, Andre Iguodala never, in his heart of hearts, wanted to leave. He eventually got precisely what he wanted all along: Three more years in the Bay Area, with a contract that makes him feel appreciated.

Iguodala describes the Warriors culture as healthy, adding that they have a lot of the right people in a lot of the right places. Prior to re-signing in July, Curry spent two years telling anyone who would listen that he was right where he wanted to be. Durant describes the Warriors as “where you go when you graduate” from the remedial qualities of typical NBA teams.

Thompson told NBC Sports Bay Area last week that he believes the Warriors have a chance to join the short list of NBA teams to be associated with the term “dynasty.” That is, at the very least, a hint to his long-term personal aspirations.

The Warriors have won 207 games in the three seasons since Kerr arrived. They’ve reached the NBA Finals in all three seasons, winning twice. They’ve opened a season with 24 consecutive victories, on the way winning an NBA-record 73 games. They’ve had an MVP (Curry, twice), a Coach of the Year (Kerr), a Defensive Player of the Year (Draymond Green) and two different Finals MVPs (Iguodala, Durant).

They’ve had two champagne celebrations, followed by championship parades.

As for Thompson, he has had a charmed career, making the playoffs in five of his six NBA seasons. As the Warriors flourish, his brand thrives. He is one of four All-Stars on the most popular team in American sports.

The Warriors during Thompson’s career have been transformed from an NBA wasteland into its most coveted destination. So it is no surprise he’d consider a discount. As the son of a former NBA player, he knows, and has been told, how well he has it.

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.