Warriors

Warriors enter media day, training camp after NBA's shortest offseason

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WARRIORS

Warriors enter media day, training camp after NBA's shortest offseason

The Golden State Warriors were the last team standing when the NBA season closed in June. Thanks to a preseason trip to China, they are one of the first teams to get going this season as the league gets up and rolling again.

The Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves will hold their media days on Friday and open training camps Saturday, a few days ahead of the rest of the league as they prepare for an early October trip to China for games in Shanghai and Shenzhen as part of the league’s ongoing efforts to grow the game in the basketball-crazy nation.

Golden State will be the headliner in China, just like it has been in the NBA for the last three seasons. And the Warriors open camp this season with a major advantage over everyone else that goes above and beyond the sheer talent the organization has assembled with Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

While the rest of the league spent the entire summer scrambling to upgrade in a desperate attempt to enter Golden State’s stratosphere, the Warriors return almost the entire roster from the team that won its second championship in three seasons. In fact, Golden State should only be better this year because it will not have to spend part of the early season figuring out how to incorporate Durant’s game with three other All-Stars.

Meanwhile, teams like the Rockets, Cavaliers, Thunder, Timberwolves and Celtics will need all of the preseason and then some to get on the same page with the new stars in town.

There will be no such orientation process in Golden State. Free agents Nick Young and Omri Casspi will have to acclimate, but that is a lot easier to do when Durant and Curry are showing them around.

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So as media days and training camps get up and running, here are a few things to watch at the outset:

HARD FEELINGS? It appeared that Durant was on his way to mending some fences in Oklahoma City after he left the organization to join Golden State last season. But the fence posts may have been torn down again when Durant disparaged the Thunder team and coach Billy Donovan as the biggest reasons he left to join the Warriors. Durant has since apologized , but the topic will likely come up again when he speaks to the media on Friday. And it should be interesting to see if Russell Westbrook has anything to say about it when the Thunder open early next week.

CP3 ARRIVES: The most intriguing roster experiment this year may be in Houston, where GM Daryl Morey is teaming James Harden with Chris Paul in a star-studded backcourt. Harden finished second in the MVP voting last season after moving from shooting guard to point guard and now will have to move back to accommodate Paul. Both players are used to having the ball in their hands and orchestrating the offense, so there will likely be some feeling-out that needs to be done in camp. The two have already appeared in a television commercial together, so they’re off to a running start.

KYRIE’S MOVE: The biggest headline in a wild offseason was Kyrie Irving’s request for a trade from the Cavaliers. He landed in Boston in a move that could define his legacy, the All-Star who didn’t want to play with LeBron James. Irving did little to shed light on his motives in an enigmatic interview with ESPN and likely will be bombarded with questions about it at media day. How the Celtics handle the early crush of attention and move past Irving’s exit from Cleveland could play a big role in their ability to truly challenge the Cavs in the Eastern Conference.

CRASH COURSE: The Timberwolves are one of the teams that made significant roster changes this summer after a disappointing 31-win season in Tom Thibodeau’s first year as coach. They added Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford while trading away Ricky Rubio in an offseason overhaul aimed at ending the league’s longest active playoff drought at 13 seasons. Thibodeau asked owner Glen Taylor to allow the team to hold training camp in San Diego before they head out to China to get them away from the distractions of home and allow them to bond in a preseason that only includes three games. That Butler and Gibson played for Thibodeau with the Bulls should help that transition, but it will no doubt be a process worth watching.

RULES CHANGES: When players start taking the court for exhibition games, it will offer an opportunity for them to start to adjust to rules changes and points of emphasis that are new every season. One notable difference this year will be the “James Harden rule,” a change in the way the game is called aimed at reducing the number of instances a player tricks a defender into fouling them and then goes into a shooting motion to try to earn free throw attempts. Harden is the master , though dozens of players do the same thing.

Draymond Green exits season-opener vs Rockets with left knee strain

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USATSI

Draymond Green exits season-opener vs Rockets with left knee strain

Towards the end of the third quarter Tuesday night, Draymond Green drove to the basket and got fouled. But he came down awkwardly and appeared to injure his left knee.

After hobbling to the free throw line and making two shots, he played out the final few seconds of the quarter. He then went to the locker room.

After examination, the Warriors diagnosed Green with a left knee strain and ruled him out for the rest of the game.

In three quarter, Green almost posted a triple-double, finishing with nine points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists.

Warriors will feel Iguodala's absence Tuesday vs Rockets, perhaps beyond

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AP

Warriors will feel Iguodala's absence Tuesday vs Rockets, perhaps beyond

OAKLAND -- We don’t know how severe Andre Iguodala’s back strain is, only that it is serious enough to force the veteran forward to the sideline for the season opener.

For a game he definitely wanted to play.

“It doesn’t make sense to play him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday, two hours before tipoff of the opening-night game against the Houston Rockets.

Iguodala’s absence will hurt the Warriors not only against the Rockets but also anybody else, for as long as he is unable to take the floor. Back problems have a way of choosing when they go away. Until then, Iguodala is at its mercy.

Losing Iguodala for this game means, first and foremost, that Klay Thompson will be mostly alone in chasing James Harden. It’s an important defensive assignment typically shared by Thompson and Iguodala.

Furthermore, the Rockets’ fast-paced offense is designed to generate constant pressure. They led the NBA last season in 3-point shots, made and attempted, and they stretch the floor as well as any team in the league, including the Warriors.

Iguodala’s intellect, defensive instincts and superior anticipation are most valuable against such teams as Houston. Draymond Green and Iguodala can wrecking offenses as well as any two players in the league, their quick hands causing havoc that is one of the keys to the Warriors playing championship-level defense.

“Andre is as smart a defensive player as I’ve ever seen,” Kerr said. “Draymond is incredibly smart, too. Scottie Pippen (Kerr’s former teammate with the Bulls) was so brilliant. Andre reminds me a lot of Scottie in terms of quarterbacking the defense and disrupting plays before they happen, anticipating where people are going to be, where the ball is going to be.

“So Andre is critical to our defense. “

For at least one night, and maybe more, Green will have to turn to another sidekick when Kerr unleashes the “Death Lineup” without Iguodala.

Shaun Livingston and Nick Young can deliver some of what Iguodala provides on offense.

Thompson can compensate for some of the lost offense, but he’ll have his hands full with Harden. Though Kerr said Pat McCaw would fill some of the minutes lost with Iguodala, the coach can’t reasonably expect McCaw to physically cope with Harden, a crafty veteran who also is 40 pounds heavier.

So let’s see what happens when the Rockets come down the floor with three or four players, all capable of launching from deep, scattering to get to their spots.

“It’ll be a challenge for us to play without (Iguodala) tonight against one of the best offensive teams in the league,” Kerr said.

The coach believes Iguodala will be ready for the next game, Friday in New Orleans. The Warriors, for the sake of their defense, can only hope so.