Heading into unpredictable free agency, Myers hopes to retain Warriors' core

Heading into unpredictable free agency, Myers hopes to retain Warriors' core

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant say they plan to be Warriors next season and beyond, both implying they are willing to offer the team financial flexibility to help retain the nucleus of the team that last week won the NBA Finals.

Durant on Monday reiterated his stance, according to ESPN, which reported the 6-foot-9 forward has decided to exercise the opt-out clause in his current contract to re-sign a short-term deal that would be at least $3.5 million less than the maximum.

Such a move would increase the chances of the Warriors keeping intact the core of the team by providing greater latitude to negotiate with upcoming free agents Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

The team’s core, in this instance, is composed of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Curry, Durant, Iguodala and Livingston.

Hearing the team’s superstars indicate they will prioritize continuity over the chance to earn every possible dollar may at least partially mitigate the task awaiting president/general manager Bob Myers.

“Any statement by any player expressing the fact that they like playing for our team and want to keep playing for our team is a positive,” he said Monday. “That’s certainly what you want. Those are all good things.”

Myers said the franchise hopes to do its part to make itself inviting to players, something it has succeeded in doing since Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the team in November 2010.

It’s Lacob and Guber who will have the final say on whether team is able to retain all six members of the core.

“They’re going to be paying the luxury tax, so it’s just a matter of how much,” said one NBA front office executive. “They’ve not been making decisions based on cost, on saving money, so it’s possible they’ll do what it takes.

“It comes down to this: How much are they willing to pay out?”

Durant can opt out on June 29, and free agency opens July 1. By opting out, Durant would still get a 20 percent salary bump, to roughly $31.8 million, and the Warriors would not have to renounce Iguodala and Livingston, and would have Bird Rights to both veterans, giving them an advantage in re-signing both without a prohibitive penalty.

As for Curry, his salary won’t have any impact because all others will be in the fold before he gets the five-year “Super Max,” worth roughly $205 million.

This is the scenario the Warriors have visualized ever since signing Durant last July, and it would allow them to make more competitive offers to Iguodala and Livingston, both of whom will be highly coveted once they hit the market.

Consider this: Jamal Crawford last July signed a three-year contract worth $42 million to remain with the Clippers. This is pertinent because Crawford was, at age 36, still considered a valuable reserve on a winning team.

It’s the same with Iguodala, 33, and Livingston, 31, who have been core members of a team that with two championships and three straight trips to the NBA Finals has accomplished infinitely more than the Clippers.

What might Iguodala, who made $11 million last season, be worth? Start at around $14 million, even though his minutes must be monitored. The Warriors would have to entertain something close to that, and Iguodala would be flexible within reason.

“I don’t know,” Myers said. “Free agency is predictably unpredictable. We love Andre and, hopefully, we can find a way to make it work for not just him but for all of our guys.”

As someone whose minutes also must be monitored, Livingston still may command twice the $5.5 million he averaged in three seasons with the Warriors. They’d wince at a $10 million salary, but they wouldn’t dismiss it outright. Livingston, too, would be flexible. He purchased a home here, his daughter was born here and he hopes to live in it for years to come.

Understand, Iguodala and Livingston want to remain with the Warriors, and if all things are equal -- or close to equal -- and they feel valued, they likely would return.

Though Iguodala’s desire is to remain with the Warriors -- he was clear about this in several late-season conversations with NBCSportsBayArea.com -- he also conceded there were conditions that needed to be met for him to return to the Warriors.

Contract length also is a factor Iguodala and Livingston. Both want and have earned multiple years.

“We all would love to keep the group together,” Livingston said last week. “We’ve seen what we’re able to accomplish together. We’ll see what happens when that time comes. There’s obviously a domino effect.”

The first domino is Durant. Following that is Iguodala and Livingston, one or both. Following that, it’s time to pay Curry, after which the Warriors would regroup and figure out how to spend what remains, with the bulk of it going to those who can play center.

“We still feel like it’s an important position, but we just have a lot of money in other positions,” Myers said.

Durant is prepared to do his part.

“It would be a special team, special group,” he said last week. “It’s a business in basketball, obviously, so nothing is for sure.

“But, here, I feel like we can work that out and everybody will have a chance to do this again next year. It’s easier said than done, obviously, but that’s the goal. We want to keep this thing together and see how we can continue to keep getting better.”

Warriors' Draymond Green was 'a kid in a candy store' in first game back

Warriors' Draymond Green was 'a kid in a candy store' in first game back

Draymond Green returned from an 11-game absence in the Warriors' 116-108 home victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night. According to Golden State's power forward, he could barely contain his excitement.

"I felt like a kid in a candy store the last few days," Green said after the game, "just getting to play again."

Green's prolonged absence was due to a sprained right big toe, a pesky injury for someone who often finds himself battling bigger bodies in the paint. In his first chance to test out that toe in live game action, Green came away no worse for the wear.

"It felt good, really had no issues at all," Green said of his toe. "And afterwards I still feel the same, which is always important."

Based on his stat line in the victory, it appears Green didn't miss a beat. He accounted for seven points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and a block in the win, while reassuming his position as quarterback of the defense. He did have a favorite play in his first game back, but it happened to be on offense.

With the game clock winding down at the end of the first half, Warriors guard Stephen Curry saw Green wide open next to the Timberwolves' basket. He lobbed Green an alley-oop, but rather than finish the play himself, Green made an acrobatic pass to Klay Thompson on the wing, who promptly drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

When asked to explain why he made the pass, Green provided a very honest answer.

"Realistically, I was gassed," Green described during his postgame press conference. "I had no energy to go for the layup and I saw Klay open.

"Steph threw me a lob. There was no way I was catching a lob."

Green is known for his passion on the floor, and his time away from the game and his teammates was admittedly tough on him.

"I was just excited to be back out there," Green told NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke immediately following the victory. "You know, I always want to bring what I bring to this team. That's communication, that's defense, try to push the tempo a little bit and I think, you know, as I get my feet back under me, get my legs back under me, I'll continue to get better at it."

Green certainly didn't look too rusty in his first game back, and if he continues to get better, well, that's bad news for the rest of the league.

As Green departed his postgame interview with Burke, she asked him what he feels building within the team given that the Warriors are getting healthier and currently riding a four-game winning streak.

"A run," Green said with a smirk.

With Green back in tow, what's to stop them?

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from 116-108 win over Timberwolves

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from 116-108 win over Timberwolves


OAKLAND – The Warriors returned to Oracle Arena Monday night after an 11-day road trip and kept things rolling, with a 116-108 win over the Timberwolves.

The Warriors (19-9) extended their current winning streak to four games.

While the return of Draymond Green bolstered the defense, the trio of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined for 86 points to lead the offense.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors' victory before a sellout crowd:

Draymond is back and, wow, he makes an impact

After missing 11 consecutive games with a sprained right big toe, Green was anxious to get back on the court -- and it showed.

He posted a rather typical stat line: seven points, 10 rebounds (a team-high), seven assists and one block. But those numbers don’t convey his overall presence nearly as well as him being plus-11 in 31 minutes.

Green was a ball of energy from the start, spurring the Warriors to a 13-0 lead barely three minutes into the game. Bringing it from both ends, he rarely let up.

The Warriors' defense, which was so solid in their previous game last Friday in Milwaukee, took on an even more feral look with Green leading the attack.

So much for not joining the 3-ball revolution

As the rest of the NBA launches with abandon from beyond the arc, the Warriors have insisted they will maintain their offensive identity, which is to shoot 3-pointers not in volume, but upon opportunity.

There were opportunities on Monday and for the second straight game, the Warriors hoisted with regularity. They were 19-of-43 (44.2 percent) from deep. The 43 attempts were nearly 13 above their average of 30.1 per game. This is the first time this season the Warriors attempted more than 40 3-pointers in back-to-back games.

Curry had 36 points and was 7-of-14 from deep. Durant had 22 points and was 4-of-7.  Thompson also was 4-of-7 and finished with 26 points, as the Warriors outscored Minnesota 57-21 from beyond the arc.

If the Warriors keep this up, they’re going to have some explaining to do.

Cruel third quarter defense took over the game

After the Timberwolves shot 52.2 percent from the field in the first half, the Warriors came out for the second half with a much more aggressive mentality on defense.

The turned up the heat, tightened up their switches and locked up Minnesota, forcing six turnovers -- leading to 11 Warriors points -- and limiting the Timberwolves to 4-of-18  (22.2 percent) shooting in the third quarter.

That was enough to hike their six-point halftime lead (63-57) to 14 (91-77) entering the fourth frame.

The Timberwolves never pulled closer than within eight points in the final quarter.