Warriors

Alfonzo McKinnie wants to stay but is prepared if Warriors tenure ends

Alfonzo McKinnie wants to stay but is prepared if Warriors tenure ends

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fairy tales indeed can come true, as one did last autumn for Alfonzo McKinnie. After four years hopscotching the world in pursuit of an NBA career, he landed on the roster of the defending champion Warriors.

Life was great. His work and perseverance had paid off. Two years after scrapping by in makeshift gyms in Luxembourg and Mexico, he was teammates with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. McKinnie bought a house for his mother and still had money in his pocket.

One year later, the 6-foot-8 forward is discovering that fairy tales don’t always stay true.

There is a reasonable chance the status McKinnie earned one year ago will go to someone else.

The Warriors acknowledge a need for size, and Marquese Chriss, the 6-10 forward/center who signed a non-guaranteed contract two weeks ago, has impressed players and coaches with his work ethic, adaptability and cognition.

“Marquese is doing great,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Sunday. “He’s probably been the surprise of camp, given that he came in late on a non-guaranteed, one-year contract.”

The Warriors cannot upgrade Chriss’ contract and add him to the roster unless someone else is waived or traded. The simplest sacrifice is McKinnie, whose contract is not fully guaranteed until January. None of the free-agent acquisitions are eligible for trade, and the Warriors won’t be moving second-year guard Jacob Evans III or any of their three rookies.

McKinnie is a 27-year-old reserve, making him a trade candidate.

“I hear it, but I try not to pay attention to it,” McKinnie told NBC Sports Bay Area. “All I can do is just come out, put my work in and perform. Whatever happens from there, that’s out of my control. I can only control what I do and how hard I go. Everything outside of that, it’s front-office business. I can’t control what goes on up there.”

With two centers on the sideline -- Willie Cauley-Stein (mid-foot sprain) and Kevon Looney (hamstring) --  Warriors general manager Bob Myers is seeking a way to add Chriss, a 2016 lottery pick (No. 8 overall) by the Kings.

The need for a big man and the way Chriss is playing -- he’ll make his second consecutive start Monday night against the Lakers in Los Angeles -– imperils McKinnie’s hold on his roster spot.

“We did have a lot of injuries to the bigs, so we definitely need some bigs,” McKinnie conceded. “Outside of the ones that are hurt, we’re a little smaller than a lot of teams.

“But I’m coming in here every day and competing. Whether you’re guaranteed or non-guaranteed, unless you’re totally solidified, you’ve always got to compete, whether it’s for a job or a spot or more minutes. Competition is always first nature.”

In 37 preseason minutes, McKinnie has been less than dazzling, scoring nine points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field, including 1 of 5 from beyond the arc. He has grabbed 13 rebounds, as well as contributed three assists and two blocks.

“I know where I’ve been,” he said. “With this basketball thing, I’ve been at the bottom of the totem pole. Being here, with this organization, experiencing what I experienced last year, having a role on a championship-contending team, this is the highest I’ve been. I’m really self-motivated, because I know where I’ve been, and I know what it’s like to be at the bottom.

“I want to stay here. And continue to be here for years to come.”

Kerr expressed relief that he is coaching instead of facing the decisions looming before Myers.

“These guys are all working hard,” Kerr said. “And you know it’s their dream to play in this league. You wish you could keep everybody. But the nature of camp is generally that you’ve got to release four or five people, and it’s no fun at all.”

If the Warriors decide to keep McKinnie, it will be out of familiarity with the system and culture, as well as his rebounding ability.

If they decide to move him and cut him, it will be out of a greater need elsewhere on the roster.

Either way, McKinnie has a clear-eyed view.

“I definitely feel like I’m a mentally strong person,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot, on and off the court. When it comes to basketball, it’s for a job. People go through much tougher times. I’ve seen people go through [stuff] way harder than getting cut from a basketball team.”

[RELATED: Warriors reportedly push Myers to keep Chriss]

That’s the voice of McKinnie past, when there were nights when he barely knew the name of the city where he would lay his head. When he barely knew his teammates, some of whom had full-time day jobs.

No matter how this turns out, McKinnie is prepared. He’ll continue to live the fairy tale. Or he’ll remember the lessons of survival when the fairy tale went no further than his imagination.

Why LeBron James didn't win his rivalry with the Warriors in any way

Why LeBron James didn't win his rivalry with the Warriors in any way

Another day, another crazy comment on the Internet.

On Thursday morning, Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated said the following after LeBron James and the Lakers throttled the injury-riddled Warriors on Wednesday night:

"In a way, LeBron James won his rivalry with the Warriors. Sure, he was just 1-3 against them in the Finals. But with the Dubs done and the Lakers looking like contenders, it appears his dynasty has outlasted theirs -- which is something that once seemed unimaginable, considering James was in the midst of a fifth straight Finals trip when they first met, and since a 73-win team added KD before the rubber match.

"And what James said about missing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in 2015 has some validity. Of all their meetings, none will have the meaning of 2016. The comeback from 3-1 to vanquish what would have been the greatest season in NBA history must still sting in a way LeBron losing with Matthew Dellavedova as his wingman won't.

"And I don't think anyone believed it was reasonable for James to conquer Golden State plus Durant after that. Now the Warriors are in the lead for the lottery while the Lakers are on top of the West with LeBron on an early MVP campaign and leading the league in assists."

First and foremost -- the Warriors beat LeBron and the Cavs in the NBA Finals three times out of four. So no -- in no way, shape or form did LeBron win his rivalry against Golden State.

We could just end this article right now, but let's continue a little longer.

Yes, LeBron is off to a terrific start this season and the Lakers are rolling at 9-2.

But what if Los Angeles doesn't win the championship this year? We have no clue how things are going to play out.

Even if the Lakers ultimately win the 2020 title, it will not be an indictment whatsoever on the Warriors, who have been decimated by injuries.

[RELATEDLeBron, other NBA stars respond to D-Lo's dunking IG post]

Now, it would be a different story if a healthy Lakers team beat a healthy Warriors team in the playoffs, but that won't be happening this season.

Hopefully, we get to see a Warriors-Lakers matchup sometime in May 2021. That would be great for the NBA and basketball fans everywhere, and actually could be used as "evidence" when discussing the "LeBron-Warriors rivalry."

Until then, it's silly to make any sort of judgments.

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Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Today is a bad day for college basketball and its fans.

Memphis star freshman James Wiseman -- the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft -- was declared ineligible.

The school issued the following statement:

University of Memphis student-athlete James Wiseman has decided to withdraw his lawsuit against the NCAA and the University. The University supports the decision, as it believes it is in James' and the men's basketball team's best interests to resolve his eligibility issue expeditiously through the NCAA process.

In order to move the matter forward, the University has declared James ineligible for competition and will immediately apply for his reinstatement. Pending that notification, James will be withheld from competition but will continue to practice with the team.

The NCAA is fully aware of the unique nature and challenges in this particular case, and the University is confident that the NCAA will render a fair and equitable decision consistent with its mission. 

Spoiler alert -- it will be shocking if the NCAA renders a fair and equitable decision.

Sorry Warriors fans, but you probably won't be able to watch the 18-year-old phenom again this season. Neither will Golden State's front office:

Wiseman -- who is listed at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds -- averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in his first three games with the Tigers, while shooting 77 percent overall and over 70 percent from the free throw line.

The Warriors currently sport a record of 2-10, and it's not inconceivable that they end up in position to draft Wiseman in June.

So why is he ineligible exactly? As ESPN's Jeff Borzello writes:

The school acknowledged last week that [Penny] Hardaway, before he became the Tigers' head coach, provided $11,500 in moving expenses for Wiseman and his family to move from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017. At the time, Hardaway was Wiseman's AAU coach and would then coach him at Memphis East High School. Hardaway, a Memphis alum, was considered a booster due to a $1 million donation he gave the school in 2008 to build a sports Hall of Fame.

[RELATEDLeBron, other NBA stars respond to D-Lo's dunking IG post]

Wow. Hardaway is nothing short of a monster and Wiseman should never be allowed to play basketball again.

That's obviously a joke, and it's a complete joke that Wiseman can't suit up for Memphis right now.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram