Warriors

How Warriors' center depth can be strength vs. Raptors in NBA Finals

How Warriors' center depth can be strength vs. Raptors in NBA Finals

OAKLAND — Warriors coach Steve Kerr is playing a game of revolving centers, and there is no end in sight. It didn’t matter which teams the Warriors faced this postseason. It won’t matter when they confront the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals.

Such depth and disparate skills bode well for the Warriors.

Kerr and his staff will study numbers and tendencies, and decide which big men to roll out against Toronto’s 7-foot-1 Marc Gasol and his primary backup, 6-10 Serge Ibaka.

Consider: 16 games into the playoffs, the Warriors have started five different centers. It’s the only position for which the starter was not revealed until minutes before tip-off.

DeMarcus Cousins, who started the first two games in the opening round against the Clippers but sustained a calf injury in Game 2, is expected back.

Andrew Bogut, who reunited with the Warriors in time to play the final month of the regular season, has started six playoff games.

Jordan Bell, who spent most of the season completely out of the rotation, started Game 4 — the closeout game, for crying out loud — of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Damian Jones opened the season as the starter while Cousins was rehabilitating from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, but he sustained a torn pectoral muscle on Dec. 1. He returned for the conference finals and, surprisingly, got the start in Game 3 in Portland.

Draymond Green, a power forward under optimum conditions, has made six starts at center.

And, finally, there is Kevon Looney. He is the only designated center without a start. Guess who has played the most minutes at the 5?

Don’t expect to change, even if Gasol is four inches taller and 30 pounds heavier.

“Looney’s a hell of a basketball player,” Kerr said Saturday. “He’s one of our cornerstones now.

“We’re going to rely on him in The Finals and, hopefully, for many years to come.”

Bogut is the best size matchup with Gasol, which is why he could expect some playing time. Not an abundant amount but maybe as many as 10 minutes per game.

Cousins is next on that list. He’s a reasonable physical matchup, similar to Gasol in weight but a couple inches shorter. He’s eager to get back on the court, make his Finals debut and re-start his drive toward a new contract when he becomes a free agent on June 30.

“He played with a little bit [Friday],” Looney said of Cousins' participation in a scrimmage. "He’s getting better each day. He’s getting in better shape each day. He’s excited to try to get out there and play.

“Whenever he’s on the court, he’s capable of going for 20 and 10, or 30 and 10. When he’s out there, he’s always a plus for us.”

Whoa. Cousins still is rounding into game shape and, assuming he receives final clearance, as expected, his minutes will be monitored. A 20-point, 10-rebound game would be astonishing.

Green’s minutes at center come almost strictly in the Hamptons 5 lineup, as was the case against the Rockets in the second round. Any time he spends in the middle will be limited, at least until Kevin Durant is available to play power forward.

There is a wild card, and it’s not Jones, who is unlikely to play significant minutes, if any.

It’s Bell. The guy who was most likely to make a glaring mental or physical error. The guy who was slapped with a one-game suspension for what amounts to incredibly immature conduct.

He doesn’t have a contract beyond this season, and for most of the season, it was reasonable to believe the Warriors would be reluctant to make a qualifying offer. That’s conceivable now.

“Jordan over the last few weeks of the regular season, when he got his opportunities, made the most of them,” Kerr said. “He’s playing at a really high level now, giving us exactly what we need: speed, energy, athleticism, intelligent play offensively, drive and kick, move the ball.

“He’s been fantastic.”

The Warriors might have caught a break insofar as the Raptors don’t have as much overall length as the Milwaukee Bucks. Among their eight-man rotation, only Gasol, Ibaka and 6-9 Pascal Siakam stand taller than 6-8.

With Cousins’ imminent return, the back-to-back defending champs are deeper in size even without Durant.

[RELATED: How Warriors, Raptors stack up ahead of NBA Finals matchup]

“Our motto is Strength in Numbers,” Looney said. “We always play center by committee, so having that extra guy [Cousins] to go out there and change the game a bit will be great.”

Let the rotation games begin.

NBA rumors: Klay Thompson, Warriors will meet at outset of free agency

NBA rumors: Klay Thompson, Warriors will meet at outset of free agency

The Warriors introduced their three 2019 NBA Draft picks on Monday afternoon.

At the end of the press conference, Warriors GM Bob Myers answered "yes" when asked if he has formal plans to sit down with Klay Thompson to discuss the future.

We learned some more details on Wednesday afternoon, courtesy Shams Charania of The Athletic:

The Warriors and free-agent All-Star Klay Thompson will meet in L.A. this week at the outset of free agency, league sources said. Should the Warriors enter the meeting with the five-year, $190 million maximum contract, both sides expect a quick agreement, according to sources.

Free agency officially opens on Sunday at 3 p.m. PT.

As ESPN's Zach Lowe said on Tuesday: "That max offer hasn't been communicated to [Klay] that it's for sure coming ... just because they haven't communicated that the max is coming doesn't mean it's not coming. In fact, I would be shocked -- given what he has meant to their organzation -- if it didn't come."

And as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said: "You can offer your own free agent a deal at any point here. That 5-year, $190 million max offer -- if it's not there for Klay Thompson on Sunday at 6:01 p.m. Eastern, the Warriors can then expect him to go out and take a meeting, meetings."

The biggest contract the five-time All-Star can get with any other franchise is about $141 million over four seasons.

[RELATEDWhy Iguodala believes KD, Klay will re-sign with Warriors]

Klay -- who is expected to undergo surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee at some point this week -- will turn 30 years old on Feb. 8.

He is expected to miss a large portion (if not all) of next season.

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr gives update on assistant Ron Adams' job status

Warriors coach Steve Kerr gives update on assistant Ron Adams' job status

Last weekend, the Lakers received permission to speak with Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams about a potential role with the organization.

Has the 71-year-old told Golden State coach Steve Kerr that he will be back with the Dubs next season?

"Basically," Kerr told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on Wednesday. "We talked about the LA situation. I called him to tell him that they had asked permission and that we would grant it.

"And so I don't know if they've spoken with him yet, and I don't know what his final answer would be. I don't even know what they would be offering him.

"But my feeling is that Ron will want to come back, and we want him back. So we'll see how it all shakes out."

Adams joined Kerr's coaching staff in 2014 and is widely considered one of the top assistant coaches in the NBA.

"I will never ever deny anybody permission to speak with one of my assistants," Kerr explained to The Athletic. "I don't understand that philosophy. If somebody comes along with an offer that one of my assistants wants to take, then I'm gonna let him go.

"Why would I keep them from going after something that they believe in? And if they would rather be somewhere else, I'm not gonna stop them from going."

After beginning his coaching career at Fresno Pacific College, Adams has been in the NBA since 1992. He's worked for the Spurs, 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Thunder, Celtics and Warriors.

[RELATEDWillie Green leaving Warriors for job with Suns]

The Fresno Pacific graduate is lauded for his defensive mind.

"Ron's a huge part of our staff, and we've grown very close," Kerr said. "Beyond basketball, I look forward to seeing Ron every day and just talking about life.

"I know he's very happy living in the Bay, so I hope that he's here for many years."

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