Warriors

Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble

Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble

OAKLAND -- Considering their status as reigning champs without a pick, members of the Warriors personnel department could have turned out the lights and left team headquarters to watch the NBA Draft from a nearby tavern.

They instead stayed in business mode Thursday night, observing the draft-night chaos up close, waiting for the right moment and the right player.

And for the second consecutive year, the Warriors paid a team for its 38th overall draft pick, sending a reported $3.5 million to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the rights to Oregon big man Jordan Bell, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

“Everybody we talked to had a lot of good things to say about him,” president/general manager Bob Myers said. “He’s one of the few guys we looked at and really wanted to see if we could get. I actually was not optimistic we would be able to get him. But somehow it came to fruition.”

Myers added that the Warriors, along with many mock drafts, projected Bell as a first-round pick.

Bell led the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage (63.6) while shooting almost exclusively in the paint. The 6-foot-9 center/forward was sixth among Pac-12 rebounders at 8.8 per game and 13th in steals at 1.3 per game.

The Long Beach Poly High product possesses a wingspan a fraction shy of 7-feet and bears, by some accounts, a resemblance to Draymond Green inasmuch as he is a defense-first player with a deep reservoir of energy.

It’s a comparison that Bell, asked about it, embraces.

“Draymond, because people always say I’m undersized,” Bell told Basketball Insiders last month. “He’s one of those players you can’t really say what position he is, but he’s a force on defense.”

Moreover, Myers cited Green as one of the players best suited to mentor Bell.

“Draymond is a good one,” the GM said. “He’s not afraid to tell players what he thinks. He’s going to be a good teacher.”

Bell in three seasons became the Ducks’ all-time leader in blocks. He blocked eight shots in a Midwest Regional win over Kansas that sent Oregon to the Final Four. He became during the NCAA Tournament the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon (in 1985) to snag at least 12 rebounds in five consecutive tournament games.

“Defending is one of my best attributes,” Bell told Basketball Insiders. “Being able to switch 1-through-5. Play small ball. Blocking shots. Timing. Decision-making on offense.”

These are the characteristics that prompted the Warriors to put a red-letter “B” next to Bell’s name on their draft board -- even though his offensive skills are unrefined.

“We love his ability to defend,” Myers said. “He could probably defend most positions, and in the NBA that’s huge. To be able to switch pick-and-rolls, rebound, block shots, finish, there are a lot of boxes he checks.

“ . . . We just like the way he plays basketball. We’ll find a place for him.”

The Warriors also are closing in on a deal for one of Bell’s Oregon teammates. Forward Chris Boucher is expected to sign a two-way contract with the team.

“That’s something we’re trying to move toward,” Myers said of Boucher, who is rehabilitating an ACL surgery.

“But we like players that win. We like players that can play. I don’t care what school they are or what their background is, or what position. Winners. That’s what we’re trying to do, is win. If we end up getting that done, that’s another player that was on a very good team.”

Why did David Lee retire? Warriors impact on NBA 'did limit my options'

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Why did David Lee retire? Warriors impact on NBA 'did limit my options'

Last season, David Lee appeared in 79 games (10 starts) for the Spurs, averaging 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds over 18.7 minutes a night.

He doesn't turn 35 years old until April 29.

But over the weekend, he officially announced his retirement from the NBA.

On Tuesday, the two-time All-Star explained his decision during an interview with Greg Papa and Bonta Hill on 95.7 The Game.

"I kind of had a little bit more of a strict criteria coming into this offseason. At the most I wanted to play another two years, and as you know -- I had another injury last season, so a lot of the summer was spent rehabbing.

"And with the NBA changing right now, the Warriors have caused a lot of teams in the league to say either we're gonna try to put as many guys on one team as possible to try to compete with the Warriors, or we're gonna go super young. So it did limit my options."

[POOLE: In his own way, David Lee was a launching pad for the new age Warriors]

You know the story: When Steve Kerr arrived in Golden State, Lee was slated to be the team's starting power forward. But after he injured his hamstring during the preseason, Draymond Green became the starter and Lee never got his starting role back.

In July 2015, Golden State traded him to Boston. Lee was waived in February 2016 and finished the season in Dallas.

So what is Lee going to do next?

"I either wanted to be in a situation where I was on a team that could be a contender -- which once again as you know limits it to maybe six teams if we're being generous -- or a team where I could play significant enough minutes to really be worth coming back and to feel like I was doing something meaningful.

"And while I had a couple opportunities, that criteria wasn't really filled. And at the same time, I actually got a call from a couple of my very good friends that I met while I was a Golden State Warrior -- that run an unbelievable venture capital firm and are doing incredible things in the Bay -- and offered to have me come work for them and have some very exciting things that could happen in the future.

"When the offers didn't come in the way that I wanted them to -- although I could go be someone's fourth big man on a team that's gonna win 30 games -- I decided to roll the dice and to try something new and I'm really excited about my decision."

Lee's new venture will have him flying back and forth between New York and the Bay Area.

So it's quite possible that Warriors fans will bump into Lee at some point soon...

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

Gameday: Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City return Part 2

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Gameday: Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City return Part 2

Programming note: Warriors-Thunder coverage begins on NBC Sports Bay Area at 4 p.m. with Pregame Live and is streaming live right here.

The Warriors will have Kevin Durant back Wednesday when they conclude a four-game road trip with a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 5:05.

The Warriors (13-4) recovered from a loss at Boston last Thursday to sweep a back-to-back set at Philadelphia and Brooklyn over the weekend. Durant missed the game against the Nets but returned to practice Tuesday in New York and was upgraded to probable Wednesday morning in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder (7-9) underwent a drastic makeover last summer, adding perennial All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, and are having a tough time adjusting to the reshaped roster.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 5.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry vs. Russell Westbrook. Even with the new acquisitions in OKC, Westbrook remains the engine behind this team. He still takes the most shots (despite a 39.4 FG percentage) and he leads in rebounds and assists. The key to beating the OKC last season was keeping him in check. The same applies so far this season. Expect Curry and Thompson to be tag-team partners on defense.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L ankle sprain) is listed as probable. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Thunder: No injuries listed.

LAST 10

Warriors 9-1, Thunder 4-6.

GAME OFFICIALS

Monty McCutchen, Karl Lane and Kevin Scott.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors swept all four games last season and have won the last seven regular-season meetings. They have won the last three in Oklahoma City. The teams met in the 2016 Western Conference Finals, with the Warriors prevailing in seven games.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

WATCH THE GIVEAWAYS: The Warriors commit an average of 16.8 turnovers per game, worse than all but two teams. That is an area the Thunder are capable of exploiting. OKC is third in defensive rating and, moreover, leads the NBA in steals and deflections while being tied for the lead in loose balls recovered. Above all, the Thunder are tops in the league in forcing turnovers (17.6 per game) and creating points off them at 20.9 per game.

KD vs. PG: For a number of seasons, George in Indiana was to the Eastern Conference what Durant was to the West in OKC. Each can play either forward position, each handles the ball well, each plays both ends and each was his team’s biggest star. They’re in different places now, but the pride levels won’t change. Each will want to reign over the other. This matchup will be fun to watch.

BURYING THE HABIT: The Warriors have continued their dangerous tendency to either fall behind and be forced to generate a comeback or build a lead only to give most of it, if not all of it, back their opponent. Will OKC and its high-profile roster, as well as Durant’s longtime connection to the franchise, be enough for the Warriors to remain focused for the duration? In their favor: the Thunder are 0-8 in games decided by eight or fewer points.