Warriors

Draymond Green, Warriors won't use Kevin Durant's exit as title motivation

Draymond Green, Warriors won't use Kevin Durant's exit as title motivation

The 2020-21 NBA season will serve as the first year a fully healthy Warriors squad will try to contend for an NBA title without Kevin Durant since the two-time NBA Finals MVP left for the Brooklyn Nets last summer.

Likewise, it will be the first season Durant will try to carve out his own legacy in Brooklyn after missing all of this past season while rehabbing his ruptured Achilles.

Durant's final season in Golden State was rocky and drama-filled, but the Warriors won't use his absence as a motivating factor to get back to the top of the NBA and restart their dynasty.

"We're always motivated to try to win a championship, whether that's with KD or it's not," Green said Tuesday on ESPN's "Jalen and Jacoby." "There's not added motivation with him leaving. We're competitors, we're champions, and we're going to continue to try to raise our level of play to that level in order to finish what we started. And that started before KD, so it's not like we need to rally around this whole notion that KD's not here anymore. We know what it takes to win a championship and that's what we're going to rally around."

Durant's exodus shouldn't be any fuel for a championship core that went to five straight NBA Finals. The Warriors were champions long before Durant arrived. They've already proved they could win without him, and with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Green still in their prime there is every reason to expect they'll be one of the best teams in the NBA next season.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The Warriors were left battered, broken and exhausted from five straight Finals runs. They needed a season to recuperate and recalibrate their dynastic path. With Thompson missing the entire season while rehabbing a torn ACL, and Curry playing only five games due to a broken hand, Steve Kerr got a chance to try out a number of young players while his stars rested and waited.

A different, more dangerous Warriors team will take the floor next season. That's a given. Winning more championships is the goal, but Green knows nothing is certain in sports.

"I definitely think we'll return to a high level of play," Green said. "To say that we're going to return to championship level, that's never guaranteed. I don't care if you bring the same exact team back that you won a championship with the year before. Every year is different, every year takes on a life of its own. We'll definitely be adding key pieces back in, in Steph and Klay, and also continue to build Kevon Looney, (who) will be healthy. That's important. We have a few young guys with more experience under their belt, so definitely looking forward to next year and returning to a high level of play. Hopefully we can come together and get the chemistry back and push for another championship or two."

[RELATED: Wiseman would be 'good add' for Warriors, Draymond says]

With Curry, Thompson, Green and Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors have a nucleus that can rival any team in the NBA. With a top-five draft pick coming and a $17.2 million trade exception to use this offseason, general manager Bob Myers has the tools at his disposal to complete the construction of the post-KD Warriors.

Winning without Durant might not be at the front of their mind next season and might not be in it at all. But Curry, Thompson and Green have heard the whispers of their demise and watched teams relish is dismantling a wounded Warriors team without its full arsenal.

All of that should be motivation enough to prove they aren't done yet.

Steph Curry, Damian Lillard deserve better than ridiculous debates

Steph Curry, Damian Lillard deserve better than ridiculous debates

The evidence gets clearer by the day. With the coronavirus pandemic and all its inglorious but sensible restrictions, too many people with too much idle time are flocking to social media and diving keyboard-first into irrational discussions.

Such as the one that raged Tuesday night and into Wednesday and was unrelated to Kamala Harris as a vice presidential candidate:

Is Damian Lillard better than Stephen Curry?

The answer is no, but that doesn’t stop “debate.” Nor should it.

One of the charming aspects of sport is that it is, like a crowded barber shop, a virtual playground for silly arguments. Sports are where conflict prompts research before meandering to laughter and expressions of mutual respect. It’s OK to agree to disagree. On those rare occasions when it escalates to violence, the blame lies not with the disagreement but with whomever loses perspective.

With Lillard lighting up all comers in the NBA bubble, pulling the Portland Trail Blazers into favorable playoff position -- and doing so in spectacular fashion -- it’s natural that hyperbole would take flight into a loony dimension. Recency bias is real, and it’s the fastest route to folly.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Dame is the best point guard in the bubble, so he must be the best point guard in the NBA. The first claim defies debate, the second invites it.

Which leads the conversation directly to Curry, the point guard against whom all others should be measured. He has the least to prove and is the most decorated player in the league not named LeBron James.

Curry is the only active point guard with three championship rings. He’s the only point guard with two MVP trophies, and the only player in history to nab the award by a unanimous vote. Moreover, he is the only point guard that can make a legitimate claim to altering the offensive philosophies and defensive strategies of basketball at all levels, regardless of gender.

All the things Dame wants most, Steph already has.

But Dame is coming. And hard.

His performance in Florida has been a portrait of stone-cold determination and preposterous production. Lillard is averaging 37.0 points (48.5 percent shooting, including 41.4 percent from deep, 88.8 percent from the line) and 9.3 assists per game. In their last two games, with increasingly high stakes, Dame put up 51 and 61 points. Of the 69 points that Portland totaled in the fourth quarters of those two games, both excruciatingly close, he scored 40.

In scoring 61 points to put away the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, Lillard joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players with three games of 60 or more points in a season.

Hats off. Caps, too. Lillard lives up to his Dame D.O.L.L.A. (Different on Levels the Lord Allowed) nickname. The praise coming his way, is richly deserved. He shouldn’t plead with anyone to “Put some respect on my f---ing name,” as he did Tuesday night.

Curry might not be caught uttering that phrase, but it surely lives in his heart. That’s where these two players are most alike. Each was a three-star recruit out of high school and landed at a mid-major -- Steph to Davidson, Dame to Weber State. Each entered the NBA to the yawns of skeptics. They feel disrespected because they’ve been disrespected.

But comparing Dame to Steph is cheap debate bait.

[RELATED: Trainer says Steph is 'as bouncy and energetic' as ever]

Curry, he has the chips and the dip. His teams crush Lillard’s at every postseason turn. Steph’s presence in the Bay Area is responsible for the Warriors hysteria that has surfaced over the last seven years. Chase Center does not get built without the team’s runaway success, and that success does not happen without Curry.

At the root of this silly debate is, sadly, perception.

Despite his record and his innate toughness, Curry always will be perceived by some as a soft kid from the suburbs, son of a millionaire NBA player. His baby face, relatively fair skin and his exhibitions of joy are magnets for jealousy and bound to lure detractors.

Lillard gets props for surviving his upbringing. He’s a Brookfield Village kid, raised in a five-block stretch between railroad tracks and I-880 in East Oakland. He's a credible rapper. His court demeanor is of such intense focus it’s almost trance-like. He is serious business.

Curry and Lillard deserve better than to be fantasy-pitted against each other, with slander flying both ways, at a time when one is radioactive and the other inactive.

Debate can be fun, but rarely is it vital. How about we cool the keyboards a bit and allow each to be magnificent in his own right? Both are, after all, bound for the same Hall of Fame.

Watch Warriors' Klay Thompson use dog Rocco for curls during workout

Watch Warriors' Klay Thompson use dog Rocco for curls during workout

Normally, Rocco just watches Klay Thompson when he's working out. But on Tuesday, the pooch got in on the action.

In a video posted by the Warriors shooting guard, he did 12 curls where he used Rocco as the weight.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

In early July, Thompson posted a video of Rocco providing moral support while he rehabbed his surgically repaired left ACL.

During the early days of Thompson's rehab, Rocco was at his side as he went through rigorous exercises with a trainer.

Thompson missed the entire 2019-20 NBA season after tearing his left ACL against the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He reportedly was medically cleared to start training without restrictions in June.

[RELATED: Trainer says Steph "bouncy and energetic"]

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Monday that Thompson and Steph Curry worked out together at some point over the last few months.

I think we can safely assume Rocco also was there for the Splash Brothers' workout.