Monte Poole

Jonas Jerebko gives Warriors the 'stretch-4' they've really needed

Jonas Jerebko gives Warriors the 'stretch-4' they've really needed

OAKLAND -- Though Jonas Jerebko might not be the answer to everything the Warriors need, he has the credentials to provide something they’ve never had.

As a legitimate “stretch-4” coming off the bench, the 31-year-old Swede gives the Warriors an option they’ve never really known.

“I’ve been knocking down the 3 consistently for a few years now,” Jerebko said Monday in his introductory media session. “And I’m going to keep working this summer on getting the percentage even higher. I’m feeling really, really confident in my shot. Hopefully, I’ll get some open ones and knock them down.”

Jerebko shot 41.4 percent beyond the arc last season in Utah, his most accurate mark from deep since 2013-14, when he shot 41.9 percent for the Pistons. His career percentage is a respectable 36.3.

That’s enough to give Jerebko a role on a Warriors team that had abysmal 3-point production off the bench (No. 30 last season, 29th the previous season) and generally struggles with bench scoring (No. 22 in the NBA last season, 21st the previous season).

The Warriors addressed that issue last season by bringing in wing Nick Young and combo forward Omri Casspi. The problem persisted. The closest thing to a stretch-4 they’ve had in recent years was Matt Barnes, who at 6-foot-7 played the position in small lineups over the final six weeks of the 2016-17 season.

At 6-10, Jerebko is as tall as Marreese Speights, who over his final two Warriors seasons made a name for himself -- “Mo Buckets” -- as a reserve stretch-5. It’s conceivable, against certain opponents, that Jerebko could fill that role.

He’s willing, he says, to do whatever is needed.

“My main goal, my lifelong dream, is to get a ring and to win an NBA championship,” said Jerebko, who signed for $2.18 million veteran’s minimum. “Money is secondary to all of that. I don’t really care. I’ve played in this league for 10 years. A kid from Sweden, I could never dream of that.”

Aside from occasional minutes from 6-11 Kevin Durant, the Warriors in four seasons under Steve Kerr have lacked a stretch-4 whom opponents fear. Jerebko addressed the need for bombs off the bench.

“He obviously brought it up,” Jerebko said of Kerr. “I told him I’m not going to pass up open shots. I’m going to shoot the ball with confidence. I’m going to go out there and hustle and grab rebounds and whatever he wants me to do.”

The Warriors want him to, above all, make shots, preferably from beyond the arc.

Steve Kerr and the Warriors are paying 'the price of success'

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AP

Steve Kerr and the Warriors are paying 'the price of success'

OAKLAND -- It’s becoming a summer ritual, competitors swooping and raiding the Warriors, hoping to break off pieces of their prosperity. This time, however, it’s cutting fairly deep.

There are, as expected, departing players. Centers JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia are out, with key reserve David West probably to follow. Those veterans earned two rings, and each knew this could be his last season in the Bay Area.

The team’s infrastructure, however, is being hit considerably harder.

Chelsea Lane, who presided over physical performance and sports medicine, is leaving, poached by the Atlanta Hawks. Joining her in Georgia is Michael Irr, who served as strength and conditioning chief. That’s one-third of the Warriors' training staff.

Longtime scout and consultant Larry Riley, whose influence had waned in recent years, also is heading to Atlanta, reportedly as a special adviser.

It’s not a coincidence that Travis Schlenk, who spent 12 seasons in the Warriors’ front office, is entering his second season as general manager of the Hawks.

Gone, too, is Sammy Gelfand, the analytics guru who supplied valuable information to the coaching staff. After six seasons with the Warriors, he’s bound for the Detroit Pistons, where new coach Dwane Casey is assembling his staff.

“Yeah, it’s a lot of change,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr conceded to NBC Sports Bay Area. “But that’s the price of success. Sometimes teams come after your people.”

That’s what happened last May, when the Hawks plucked Schlenk from his assistant GM position. Accompanying him to Atlanta was Dan Martinez, who was senior public relations director for the Warriors but ascended to the title of senior director of basketball operations for the Hawks.

(Side note: Schlenk’s drafting of Oklahoma guard Trae Young no doubt centered on deep shooting and passing ability reminiscent of Stephen Curry. So, yes, the Hawks are actively lifting from the Warriors blueprint.)

Less than two months after Schlenk left, Jerry West, executive board member and trusted adviser, also walked. His was a reluctant departure, but his contract was up, and he was feeling marginalized. He quickly landed a handsome salary with the Clippers as a special consultant.

The previous year, when the Warriors won 73 games but lost to Cleveland in The Finals, also brought significant off-the-court changes, with superstar Kevin Durant walking in as lead assistant coach Luke Walton -- who excelled as interim head coach -- was walking out to become head coach of the Lakers.

The previous top assistant coach, Alvin Gentry, left a year earlier, in 2015, after the Warriors won their first title under Kerr, to become head coach of the Pelicans.

So, where do the Warriors go from here? Head trainer Drew Yoder will stay on and assist in completing the staff that operated under Lane. A new strength and conditioning coach will have to be hired. Much of Gelfand’s load -- and maybe his role as Shaun Livingston’s personal practice partner -- will fall upon Pabail Sidhu, who spent last season working with Gelfand.

There is one more notable departure, this one sentimental. Team security manager Ralph Walker, who doubled as Curry’s individual protection, is retiring. Though the former Oakland cop had no voice in personnel, training, scouting or analytics, his understated approach made him popular with players and staff alike.

Which is not to say the others were not popular. They were, particularly Lane and Gelfand.

After four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and three championships, though, the Warriors find themselves rebuilding subtly on the court but considerably with ancillary staff.

While each departure presents a greater opportunity for those leaving, another factor is quality of life. Each of those leaving are bound for a place where salaries go appreciably further on the housing market. Martinez gleefully disclosed that the Oakland dwelling his family left behind is dwarfed by their Atlanta-area home, which cost about half as much.

That said, plenty of candidates are willing to work for the league’s top marquee team. But if the Warriors continue to thrive, and the real estate market remains insane, how long will they stay?

From dog days to super villains, former NBA players tell the real story of the Warriors

From dog days to super villains, former NBA players tell the real story of the Warriors

With the ongoing truth-bending debate about the sweeping power of the almighty Warriors, it’s time for the bi-weekly history lesson, with contributions from those who actually lived it.

That would be some of the men who recall year after year when a trip to Oakland was perhaps the surest victory in the NBA.

“You could be out all night, and still you were going to get ‘em,” says Jermaine O’Neal, who spent 17 seasons as an opponent before ending his career as a member of the Warriors in 2014.

“You see the Warriors on the schedule, that’s a ‘W’ -- and it didn’t stand for ‘Warriors,’ ” says Clyde Drexler, the Hall of Fame guard who spent his entire 16-year career with Western Conference foes Portland and Houston.

For a more measured commentary, we turn to Jim Jackson, who has some of the broadest perspective in league history. During his 14 seasons, he played for 12 franchises, a number no one has surpassed. He was a Warrior for the final 31 games of the 1997-98 season, after which he became a free agent.

“It was always a great place to play because they had passionate fans,” he says. “But the balance of power -- the ability to get that true superstar -- escaped Golden State for some time after Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond and Chris Webber left.

“So now it’s good to see where they are because they’ve got such passionate fans.”

The Warriors were 19-63 in that ’97-’98 season, 30-52 the year before and 21-29 in the lockout-shortened following season. They were in the midst of, as long-suffering fans have memorized, a woefully pathetic run of 12 consecutive losing seasons, during which they finished an average of 24 games below .500.

One international media outlet (OK, ESPN) in 2006 posted a column by our man Brian Murphy, now a sports-talk show host at KNBR, nominating the Warriors as the worst franchise in American sports.

“I’ve seen the Warriors through the dog days, the ups and downs,” says Drew Gooden, who was born in Oakland spent his entire childhood in the East Bay before embarking on a 14-year in NBA career that ended in 2016.

“To see where they are now,” he adds, “they’ve basically created a dynasty, and they’re going to continue to add on to that. It’s night and day.”

The Warriors’ last trip to the lottery, in 2012, was their fifth in a row and 21st in 28 seasons dating back to 1985, when they drafted Mullin seventh overall. They struck gold with Curry in 2009 and Thompson in 2011. They found a solid player, Harrison Barnes, in 2012 but whiffed on Anthony Randolph in 2008 and Ekpe Udoh in 2010.

So, clearly, the Warriors, even as they have rebuilt the franchise almost from the ground up, haven’t always gotten it right. But their 40-percent success rate was enough to give them conceivably the most dangerous backcourt in NBA history.

“Jerry West was there for a while and he knows how to build a contending team,” says Michael Cooper, a defensive specialist who earned five championship rings with the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s, when West was the architect.

The Warriors are where they are due to a variety of forces. When CEO Joe Lacob hired Mark Jackson as the coach in June 2011, it was the right move, at that time, just as replacing him with Steve Kerr in May 2014 was the proper decision.

None of this would have happened without Lacob and co-owner Peter Guber setting the bar impossibly high, vowing to bring a new and brighter day to the Warriors.

“The guys they have now have righted all of the wrongs, getting three championships in four years,” Drexler says. “And they look like they’re going to get two or three more.”

In a league where power can be cyclical, maybe it’s time for the Warriors to have their turn. It was, to be fair, overdue. And some folks are OK with its arrival.

“I’m from Cali, so I like everything they’re doing,” says DeShawn Stevenson, a Fresno native whose 13-year NBA career ended in 2013. “I support it.

“I wish they’d whip everybody’s butt.”