How Warriors' joyful three-peat run was derailed and (maybe) can be saved

How Warriors' joyful three-peat run was derailed and (maybe) can be saved

We're about to find out whether Joe Lacob, Bob Myers and Steve Kerr can master the one thing they've never had to do in their time together.

Long-term crisis management on the fly.

Draymond Green’s intemperance and Kevin Durant’s intransigence have collaborated to hand the Warriors' principal owner, their general manager and their head coach a series of problems that require both tactical and strategic skill, short-term thinking and long-term vision-making that they didn’t think they would have to perform while in the early stages of a very long basketball season.

And it isn’t just about managing the dual thickets of Green’s and Durant’s separate sensibilities, but doing it while deciding whether this needs the brainstorming power of the other veterans on the team or going it alone, top-down-management style.

In short, this might require more than just temporary diplomacy from on high, but the on-the-ground work of Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and, yes, maybe even Klay Thompson, who are best positioned to reach both Green and Durant if this starts to reach dangerous levels of toxicity.

Ultimately, this problem will be solved, as all problems are. Options are narrowed, thinking is changed, plans get modified or cemented. After all, as Iguodala, the Warriors’ keenest eye and broadest mind, reminded us, “Everything ends.”

But all the long-term issues that could have sat happily on the back burner at a low simmer already have hit full boil 15 games into the regular season, and the Warriors' front office has been playing reactive management games since Monday just to try to contain the mess to the stovetop.

In other words, this is all just about getting to June, which until now hadn’t been an issue.

[RELATED: Sources say Draymond crossed the line with what he told KD]

For starters, Green wasn’t suspended for Tuesday's game because of a long-term management strategy to cozy up to Durant and more than it was about one mangled possession at the end of regulation in Game 14. Green was suspended because he was in the wrong to go to Durant’s free agency as a rhetorical weapon, and their teammates sided largely with Durant afterward because they understood Green was in the wrong. Kerr and Myers couldn’t not suspend him without making the immediate problem worse.

That, though, is reactive. To get ahead of the issue, they have to wait out both Durant and Green while making sure their individual problem doesn’t spread into something more team-affecting.

Second, free agency will take care of itself, simply because Durant controls his and Green his. This might be part of their mutual resentment, but the NBA’s salary structure isn’t going to change just because it is inconvenient for their joint satisfaction. If this means the dynasty ends this coming Fourth of July when Durant holds an open meeting at Cap d’Antibes for any and all suitors, then that’s how it ends.

And third, this is the end-game scenario the Warriors were trying desperately to avoid -- a frantic, graceless race against time and tempers that would make last season's sometimes joy-deficient championship run seem like Mardi Gras.

[RELATED: Draymond, KD have a history of heated exchanges]

A bad end isn't inevitable, if you define “end” as mid-June. But mid-June was supposed to be the easy part, with a generational team engaged in making its piece of history a happy one for all concerned. Now, it is more stressful than any of the others, and will remain so because both players and management are walking on a field of eggshells. Durant-Green sparks a nasty detour from the happy campaign that Kerr set out for the players this year, and its ramifications have an excellent chance of affecting the entire season.

And then there’s July, when this could all spiral into a new orbit entirely, just in time to open the new gym. Crisis management? You ain’t seen nothin' yet.


NBA rumors: Porzingis wasn't psyched about possibly playing with Kevin Durant

NBA rumors: Porzingis wasn't psyched about possibly playing with Kevin Durant

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders Saturday at 4:00 p.m. PT, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

On Jan. 31, the Knicks agreed to trade Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks.

The move shocked most of the basketball world, because the 23-year old was the face of the franchise.

His time in New York, however, was filled with turmoil and he wasn't shy about voicing his displeasure with the state of the most valuable team in the league.

Hours before he was shipped to Dallas, Porzingis told Knicks management that he "no longer wanted to be a part of our group," team president Steve Mills told reporters shortly after the trade.

Was there anything in particular that cemented the Latvian's feelings about his future (or lack thereof) in the Big Apple? 

Well, there is a new piece of information that just might be very interesting to Warriors fans. On the most recent episode of The Lowe Post Podcast, Lowe said the following to ESPN Knicks reporter, Ian Begley.

"There is the possibility that they (the Knicks) got the sense that he wasn't psyched of how aggressively they were going to court bigger names than him. That's possible.

"I'm confident after talking to a lot of people -- I don't think he was psyched about playing with Durant. I don't know how directly that was verbalized to the Knicks. I'm confident that it wasn't something that was like his Plan A he was super thrilled about it.

"He wanted to be the face of the franchise. I think that's known, that's fair. Kevin Durant will be the face of the franchise if he comes. That's it. That's decided. 

"There are other guys who for various reasons I don't think would be the face of the franchise. Kemba Walker would not be. You could argue Kyrie Irving would not be if he were here with Porzingis. It would be close."

First and foremost, it needs to be made clear to everybody that Lowe is not specifically reporting that sources told him Porzingis flat out didn't want to play with KD. So don't get that twisted.

However, Lowe is as connected as it gets and he wouldn't just say something like this unless there was some degree of truth. His assertion is obviously newsworthy because of the connections between the reigning two-time Finals MVP and the Knicks.

And let's be real, if the Knicks were somehow made aware of Porzingis' feelings about Durant -- and if they are confident in their chances of luring Durant away from the Warriors -- it would make perfect sense to part ways with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft in order to free up the necessary cap space to potentially sign Durant and another max-level free agent in July.

OK. That's enough for today. Have a great Friday night and we will see you tomorrow for Warriors-Rockets.

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

Warriors Under Review: Steph Curry, Draymond Green lead way over Kings

Warriors Under Review: Steph Curry, Draymond Green lead way over Kings

OAKLAND – Displaying plenty of warts, the Warriors came out of the break with just enough juice to post a pulsating 125-123 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday at Oracle Arena.

The win completed a four-game sweep of their NorCal neighbors, who are becoming a difficult team to deal with. The Warriors prevailed mostly because they are more familiar with the necessities required at winning time.

Here are some of the positives and negatives taken from the game:


Curry’s cooking

The Kings stubbornly refused to go away, so somebody had to keep pushing until they were gone. Stephen Curry accepted the job and was masterful at it, scoring 11 of his game-high 36 points over the final seven minutes – with eight coming over the final 2:34. Curry was 10-of-16 from deep overall, but in a game up for grabs until the final horn, he starred in the role of closer.

Sacramento may be tracking the Warriors, but Curry’s shooting – 10 triples in each of last two games against the Kings – continues to expose a hole in the defense.


Energy highs and lows

Sacramento generally looked like a team with energy to burn. The Warriors generally looked like a team trying to summon energy. The result was the Kings being more consistently aggressive, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds and being quicker to 50-50 balls. There is a reason Kevin Durant and Draymond Green both implied the Kings were more deserving of victory.

Perhaps the Warriors, who never get much rest during the All-Star break, needed a game to regroup and find rhythm. They clearly struggled to keep up.


Draymond draining triples

There may not have been a more welcome sight for the Warriors than Draymond Green’s 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. He was 4-of-30 from deep over the previous 12 games.

Benches around the league have been ridiculing him, sagging off of him and urging him to fire away. The Kings did, and they got burned.

Green doesn’t have to be a great, or even good, 3-point shooter. But, there is great benefit to the Warriors if he’s enough of a threat to command a defender.


Second unit struggles

The Warriors entered the second quarter with a five-point lead. Less than three minutes later, they were down by six.

What happened? The second unit – Quinn Cook, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Green and DeMarcus Cousins – had difficulty generating offense and zero defensive presence. The Kings’ 15-4 run came in the blink of an eye, with Marvin Bagley III and Corey Brewer accounting for 12 points.

Though the second unit was much better in opening the fourth quarter, turning a two-point deficit into a three-point lead in less than two minutes, the group remains a work in progress.

[RELATED: Kerith Burke answers your questions about Boogie, her favorite interview]


KD’s Block Party

Durant scored 17 points in 18 first-half minutes. He was efficient, making six field goals in nine attempts. The stunner is that he blocked just as many shots, most of them against Bagley. The six-block first half led to a seven-block game, which ties his career record.

Durant shrugged off the blocks, saying he took advantage of Bagley’s tendency to begin his shot at waist-level. OK. But seven blocks is superb. Six in a half is absurd.