Warriors

Five free agent targets for Warriors, 2.0

Five free agent targets for Warriors, 2.0

It was two weeks ago that we posted a list of five potential targets for the Warriors once free agency begins Saturday night at 9 o’clock Pacific. Though some of those individuals remain in play, there have been a few changes.

For one, the Warriors have evaluated the market and believe the market may allow them to retain Kevon Looney or Patrick McCaw, if not both.

For two, there is no firm commitment to use their taxpayer midlevel exception of $5.29 million, the cost of which would be nearly quadrupled to around $20 million total due to the repeater tax.

“Joe’s always shown a high level of aggressiveness,” general manager Bob Myers said, referring to CEO Joe Lacob. “If it makes sense for us and helps us win he’s always said yes. But that will be the markers that have to be met: Is this guy going to play for us?”

The original list of five: Houston’s Trevor Ariza, Denver’s Will Barton, New York’s Michael Beasley, Philadelphia’s Marco Belinelli and Brooklyn’s Joe Harris.

Here are brief comments on the original five, followed by an updated list of five:

Ariza: He may not settle for the minimum. If he’s ready for a change of scenery -- there’s no clear indication of that -- he might accept the midlevel.

Barton: Would be ideal, but probably too good, and too young, to accept the minimum. The midlevel may not be enough.

Beasley: He really likes New York, where he has settled in. He also would love to play with longtime buddy Kevin Durant. Suns and Hawks also said to be interested.

Belinelli: Sharpshooter says he wants to remain with the 76ers. And they have a need for shooters.

Harris: He says he likes Brooklyn, where he blossomed. And they would like to keep him.

The updated list:

Barton: (6-6, 190): This Swiss Army knife of a wing would be ideal. He can score, defend well enough and create for others. He also is said to be looking for a big payday. The coaching staff would like to keep him in Denver, but Nuggets ownership is notoriously cheap. He’s only 27, so there will be competition for his services.

Beasley: (6-9, 235): He may be the purest scorer on the market, capable of lighting up the scoreboard from all three levels. Twice last season, his points total exceeded his minutes played, including 32 points in 25 minutes in a win over the Celtics. Beasley, 29, played for the minimum last season and now he can command a much bigger payday. How badly does he wish to play alongside good friend Kevin Durant?

Dante Cunningham (6-8, 230): He is on this list because he can defend, rebound and shoot a decent 3-ball (34.5 percent last season), making him a solid physical counter to Houston’s P.J. Tucker, who created problems in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors are seeking competent players available at friendly prices. He fits that description.

Harris (6-6, 220): The Warriors last season were dead last in 3-point makes off the bench, making 2.0 per game. Moreover, they were 28th in 3-point percentage (33.3). Harris is a fabulous shooter -- 41.9 percent beyond the arc, including 47.8 percent after the All-Star break. He’s young. If he were to accept the minimum, the Warriors would jump at the chance. He almost certainly wants more, though.

Kyle O’Quinn (6-10, 240): The Warriors definitely are interested in adding a veteran big man to share time with youngsters Jordan Bell and Damian Jones. O’Quinn, who opted out of a $4.2 million deal with the Knicks, fits the bill. He’s solid at both ends, and its said to be a good locker room guy. It likely would take the midlevel to get him, but he may be worth it.

New to the list: Cunningham and O’Quinn.

Dropped out: Ariza and Belinelli.

On the margins, from the possible to the preposterous: Vince Carter, Jamal Crawford, Seth Curry, Wayne Ellington, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Glenn Robinson III.

Warriors beat the Kings, but the NorCal rivalry is just getting started

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USATSI

Warriors beat the Kings, but the NorCal rivalry is just getting started

SACRAMENTO -- There was a time when the Warriors were routinely dismissive of the Kings, strolling into the state capital and treating them like annoying peasants before riding back to the Bay with the fully expected victory.

Those days are over. The Kings impolitely informed the reigning NBA champions of that Friday night at Golden 1 Center.

The Warriors got the 130-125 victory, but they went through some serious trials to earn it.

“They’re good,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Sacramento. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence, and they’re playing fast. They have a lot of shooters, and they can put pressure on you, and they don’t quit either.

“We were in control of that game most of the way, and then it just completely collapsed on us. But it had to do with their pressure and their execution.”

After the Warriors went up 100-87 with 2:21 left in the third quarter, the Kings needed less than six minutes to chew through that lead and then some, taking a 112-105 lead with 8:45 remaining.

Kevin Durant entered the game with 8:03 remaining, and basically hijacked the Warriors back into proficiency. He drained a 3-pointer to pull the Warriors within two and dropped in a midrange jumper to tie it at 113-113 with 6:05 remaining.

But the Kings were too stubborn to go away. They responded with a 10-0 run and take a 123-113 lead with 4:23 left.

Did they not know whom they were playing? The Warriors have four All-Stars and have been to the NBA Finals in each of the last four seasons, winning three times. The Kings, by contrast, were 121-207 over the last four seasons, with three different coaches plus one interim coach.

They entered the game with a 15-12 record, but this winning thing is new to them.

So, the Warriors had to show them how it’s really done. They hit the defensive switch and held the Kings to two points the rest of the way on 1-of-7 shooting while forcing two Sacramento turnovers.

“We made some mistakes that young teams make, and we just learn from that,” Kings guard De’Aaron Fox said.

[RELATED: Kings bemoan blown lead with a lesson learned]

The Warriors have this reservoir of experience that they can lean on in close games. They’ve been there, in bigger games, with higher stakes.

“We’ve been to four straight Finals together, so we know how to make plays on the high stage,” Klay Thompson said. “A game in December I don’t think is going to faze us. So just play under control and that’s what we did the last three minutes.”

Durant described what the Warriors did late on offense. He used the word “simplify.” That, evidently, is code for turning to him.

Durant scored 13 points in eight minutes. He was 4-of-8 from the field, his teammates 4-of-15. He carried the offense, while Draymond Green -- as usual -- cranked up the defense.

Which left the Kings with little to do but learn from the masters.

“We played the game at our pace the entire game, but that’s a great team,” Fox said of the Warriors. “They’re going to make shots. We went on a run in the fourth quarter, and we got stops when we needed to. Like I said, we had those breakdowns at the end of the game that cost us the game.”

[RELATED: Steph had a good laugh at Kings pre-game video trolling]

Warriors-Kings present was on glorious display Friday night. The future of Warriors-Kings has tremendous potential, for three specific reasons.

One: Sacramento, which lost to the Warriors 13 consecutive times after Kerr took over as coach in 2014, narrowed the gap last season by hanging two losses on the Warriors -- both in Oakland.

Two: The Kings are vastly improved over last season. They’re young, talented, athletic and energetic. Through 28 games, they’re 15-13. They were 9-19 at the same point last season.

Three: The Warriors are more vulnerable now than they were during that three-year span when they swept the Kings and “broke” the NBA while averaging 69 wins per season.

The Warriors can’t do much about the first two, but No. 3 is entirely up to them. And their defense.

Steph Curry gives Kings 'A for effort' for trolling with moon landing video

Steph Curry gives Kings 'A for effort' for trolling with moon landing video

Steph Curry was clearly a big fan of how the Kings introduced him Friday night. 

Sacramento played footage of moon landings during the Warriors' pregame introductions, trolling Curry after he (jokingly, in his words) questioned the veracity of if humanity had been to the moon. Curry laughed when he looked up at the video board, and said after the Warriors' 130-125 win he was over the moon with the execution.

"That caught me off guard," Curry told reporters in Sacramento. "That was solid. ... A for effort, for sure."

When Curry's reaction to the pregame was shown, Kings play-by-play announcer Grant Napear joked that Curry would "probably score 50" against Sacramento. 

He was 15 points off. 

Curry bounced back from his poor performance against the Raptors, scoring 35 points on 11-of-23 shooting (and 5-of-14 from beyond the arc) to lead the Warriors to a win against their NorCal rivals. Friday was the third time since returning to Golden State's lineup on Dec. 1 that Curry scored at least 35 points, and the fourth time he made at least five 3-pointers. 

The two-time MVP got a good laugh out of the video, but he also got the last laugh on the night.