Warriors

Doc Rivers clarifies how Clippers acquired Paul George, Kawhi Leonard

Doc Rivers clarifies how Clippers acquired Paul George, Kawhi Leonard

“Mr. Ballmer, I love the things you do and what you stand for, but your team is not good enough and if you don’t change your team, I’m not coming.”

That was the blunt statement Kawhi Leonard gave to Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer during the team’s recruitment meeting with NBA Finals MVP prior to the start of NBA free agency, as told by head coach Doc Rivers in a recent conversation with the Los Angeles Times’ Arash Markazi.

“We actually had a list of guys, which was a mistake, but we got lucky,” Rivers said. “We shouldn’t have had a list, because then he got to choose who he wanted to play with and the assumption was that we could get them. We didn’t know if we could get anybody. We just showed him guys that we thought would match him and when he saw Paul George’s name he said, ‘I want to play with him.’”

The Clippers clearly needed some star power if they wanted to compete for championships, as Rivers and his club have been unsuccessful in advancing past the first round of the NBA playoffs three of the last four years, including missing the postseason entirely in 2017-18. The Clippers did make some noise in the 2019 NBA Playoffs, taking a pair of games from the Warriors before ultimately succumbing in a six-game series defeat.

LA parted with a record-number of draft picks to make the trade work with the Oklahoma City Thunder, sending a total of six future first-round draft picks and former first-rounders Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari to acquire George.

“Steve Ballmer was nervous about the picks,” Rivers said. “I said, ‘Steve, you keep saying six picks for Paul George is insane, but you’re saying it wrong. It’s not six for Paul; it’s six for Paul and Kawhi. So three for each. I would do that.’ You have to look at it in those terms.”

[RELATED: Warriors will need eight things to go right to make NBA playoffs]

After the dust settled on 2019’s topsy-turvy free agency period, the new-look Clippers stood with arguably the best superstar duo in the NBA, as Kawhi is coming off a dominant season ending with his third championship and second Finals MVP, while George was named to his first All-NBA First Team in a breakout season.

There’s no doubt Ballmer and Rivers now believe they have the best team in a wide-open NBA, but Steph Curry and Draymond Green may have something to say about that when the Warriors and Clippers face off in the first regular-season NBA game at Chase Center on Oct. 24.

Five observations from Warriors' 33-point preseason loss to Lakers

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USATSI

Five observations from Warriors' 33-point preseason loss to Lakers

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
 
The Warriors' fourth preseason game, a 126-93 loss to the Lakers on Wednesday night at Staples Center, was one to forget.

There were not too many macro-level conclusions to be made from the 33-point loss, as Steph Curry, Kevon Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III and Omari Spellman all sat out. Despite the huge talent disparity in the game, it is quite obvious that the Lakers are an impressive team.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis already have midseason-type chemistry, and the rest of the squad plays with great enthusiasm and skill. They will be a force to be reckoned with all season if they stay healthy. 
 
Even though the game was rather meaningless for the Warriors, there were some small takeaways to take note of.

Draymond Green's conditioning

If Draymond Green seems a tad slow or a little out of shape, do not worry, this is how he usually approaches the regular season. Green consistently has tried to reduce the wear and tear on his body in the offseason as he prepares for a long and arduous NBA schedule. This season is no different as Green gains his conditioning as the regular season begins.

Unlike last season, it is expected that the power forward pushes himself physically to reach his playoff-shape earlier in the regular season, as the Warriors will need him at his very best from the start. It is crucial that he plays like the All-Star he is if the Dubs have a chance at reaching the playoffs. 

Eric Paschall's progress

Eric Paschall showed some glimpses of how he can be a solid defender. Paschall faced LeBron in a few one-on-one situations, and held his own, pressuring The King into tough fadeaway shots -- though James inevitably scored on those possessions.

On the other side of the court, Paschall made a fadeaway of his own in LeBron's face. While that shot looked fluid and went in, it is clear that the early weakness in Paschall's game is his shooting. Like most rookies, adapting to the NBA's longer 3-point distance, as well as the athleticism and speed of the opponents, can be a tough transition when trying to find their shot.

There is no reason to doubt that Paschall eventually will improve in that regard, but if he continues to struggle on open jumpers to start the season, it might limit his playing time early on. 

Watching Jordan Poole

As expected, Jordan Poole is not ready to take over and lead an offense without help. There was no reason to assume at this point he would be able to, but after expectations soared sky-high following his explosive first two preseason games, his production has fallen off considerably as the Warriors' stars and key players have sat out.

Poole can be a weapon in an offense where he can fly under the radar and come off screens free to shoot. With Curry, Green or D'Angelo Russell feeding him, Poole will have ample opportunity to fire away. But when he is the focal point of the offense, and defenses are able to key in on him, he's a lot less effective.

With time and experience, Poole has the skillset and mindset to eventually be an offensive force. But until then, he will need to be a complimentary piece that can spread the floor for Curry and Russell. 

Jacob Evans' evolution

In four preseason games, Jacob Evans III is a combined 4-for-7 from 3-point range. While it is a small sample size, it is very clear Evans is a much more confident shooter, with a more effective shooting stroke. The Warriors are desperate to find players that are capable of defending small forwards, while being able and willing to hit an open shot.

If Evans maintains this new found effectiveness, there is a strong chance that he will find consistent playing time in the rotation.

Steve Kerr's rotations

Missing Looney, Cauley-Stein and Burks for the whole preseason severely has limited Steve Kerr's ability to experiment with rotations or try to development chemistry in lineups. With the start of the regular season next week, it appears as if all the experimentation will have to be a work in progress while the games count.

[RELATED: Dudley backs Dray's comments on Chriss' tenure with Suns]

The Warriors' playoff hopes will not have a large margin for error to lose games while they get players back from injury and try to strategize the most effective lineups. This will be Kerr's challenge, and patience will be key.

Warriors' Steph Curry second-best leader to Damian Lillard, NBA GMs say

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AP

Warriors' Steph Curry second-best leader to Damian Lillard, NBA GMs say

Warriors superstar Steph Curry is revered by his teammates and organization, and considered a fantastic leader.

Damian Lillard -- by all accounts -- is beloved by his Blazers teammates and franchise, and viewed as an awesome leader as well.

So it wasn't a surprise to see the following results to one specific question in NBA.com's 18th annual GM Survey:

Which player is the best leader?

1. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 41 percent
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 37 percent
3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 15 percent

Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City

Sure, Warriors fans probably think Curry should reside in the No. 1 spot. But this finding isn't a knock on the two-time NBA MVP, as it's more highlighting the positive perception (and reality) of Lillard.

Besides, Dame hails from Oakland and practically is slander-free in these parts. He grew up going to Warriors games at Oracle Arena. That's really cool.

[RELATEDNBA GM survey: Curry receives the second-most MVP votes]

But we will remind everybody that Curry and the Warriors eliminated Lillard and the Blazers from the playoffs in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

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