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 center Jordan Bell ideal starter while DeMarcus Cousins gets healthy

Warriors center Jordan Bell ideal starter while DeMarcus Cousins gets healthy

OAKLAND -- The Warriors have indicated that, until DeMarcus Cousins is available, they plan to stay with the center-by-committee system installed two seasons ago. To generate continuity, though, they’ll need a regular starter.

If length and athleticism are the priorities, third-year 7-footer Damian Jones has the edge.

If reliability and technique are crucial, they’ll look to 6-9 Kevon Looney, who is entering his fourth season.

If sheer talent is the primary factor, it likely will be 6-9 Jordan Bell, coming off a rookie season that was by turns spectacular and disappointing.

“As long as we get it done,” coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday after practice, “it doesn’t matter to me.”

“But if somebody takes it, that’s great.”

With the NBA being a talent-first league, Bell would seem to enter training camp with a lead. He is as athletic as Jones with more court awareness, and far more athletic than Looney and also has broader skills. No center on the roster has more energy than Bell.

Then there is this: The Warriors visualize Bell as the ideal matchup for Clint Capela in Houston, the team considered most likely to deny the Warriors a fifth consecutive trip to The Finals.

Bell acquitted himself well when the teams met in the 2018 Western Conference Finals. The confidence gained from that series vaulted the University of Oregon product to a higher level when the Warriors advanced to the NBA Finals, where he was terrific.

“The Western Conference Finals was the most competitive basketball I’ve ever played,” Bell recalled. “I’ve never had to experience any competition that was that tough, where literally every single play counts.”

Bell’s says he’s a “way better basketball player” than he was as a rookie, yet his fate likely will rest on his ability to achieve consistency. He worked on that during the summer and believes that, along with the experiences of his rookie season, should be of benefit in Year 2.

Bell talks about being a better pro, defining it as “showing up on time, not making rookie mistakes. I know what the schedule is now, so I should know exactly where to be and what time to be there. And what’s expected of me.”

That’s largely a result of veteran influence. David West, now retired, was in his ear. So was Draymond Green. And there was a one-on-one conversation with Kevin Durant last April, as the team flew home from Indiana, that proved profound.

Though Kerr was impressed by Bell’s work over the summer -- he praised his hoops intellect and passing, and even gave him the green light to fire midrange jumpers -- there still is much to prove.

“He understands now how hard he has to work,” Kerr said. “It’s hard for a rookie to come in and understand what being a pro means.

“But he gets it now. I think he’s more committed than ever. He’s got to be more consistent as a player, but that starts on the practice floor every day.”

Matchups will be a factor in determining a starter. Changing the starting lineup on a regular basis requires constant adjustment for the other four starters, all of whom are All-Stars. While they’re wise enough to do that, that approach isn’t particularly sustainable.

The likely expectation is that Jones will fill the role vacated by JaVale McGee, playing 10-15 minutes off the bench along with spot starts. Looney probably will remain in a similar role, playing significant minutes some nights and not at all on others, based on the opponent.

Bell, however, is the most versatile. He offers some of what the Warriors would get from Jones and Looney. Bell is prepared to start, but hardly fixated on it.

“I want to be the guy who finishes, not the guy who starts,” he said. “That’s what I’m going for.”

Kevin Durant: 'I still gotta get better' at one thing in particular

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USATI

Kevin Durant: 'I still gotta get better' at one thing in particular

Kevin Durant is ...

... really good at basketball.

I promise.

But that doesn't mean he has mastered every aspect of the game.

"I still gotta get better at setting screens and moving off the ball a little bit, but I'm glad I still got some room to grow in that area," Durant told Greg Papa on Bonta Hill on 95.7 The Game. "I played a lot of pickup ball this summer -- moreso than I ever played -- and that's something I thought about running up into screens.

"I'm like, 'Let me hit this guy now.' Whereas before, I was slipping out of screens trying to get me a shot."

[RELATED: Steph Curry's summer the best of his career, 'trajectory is still going up']

Durant is absolutely right.

It's well documented how Steph Curry does a fantastic job of setting picks (particularly back screens). In many instances, two defenders stay attached to Curry, and a teammate gets a wide open shot or dunk.

It's probably safe to assume that the Warriors' coaching staff has been talking to Durant about becoming a better screener over the past two seasons. And it sounds like he's ready to make it happen.

"It's only gonna help our team," Durant added.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller