Warriors

How Warriors will plan to utilize Alen Smailagic, two-way players

ask_kerith_toyota_web.jpg
NBC Sports Bay Area

How Warriors will plan to utilize Alen Smailagic, two-way players

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askKerith.

Tip-Off

HAPPY NEW YEAR! My resolution is to be more charitable with my money and my time. I like doing more of things, rather than less of things. More vegetables mean I don’t have to eat less cheese!

Game On!

@covika #askKerith What’s the plan for Bowman and Smiley over the next month or so? Know there are lot of complications here with the contracts.
@KDgaming4 What does Steve Kerr like about Ky Bowman and will he have a roster spot for the foreseeable future #askKerith

Let’s talk about the two-way players before Alen Smailagic. Warriors coach Steve Kerr says he’d like to find a place on the roster for both Ky Bowman and Damion Lee. How this would be possible is ultimately up to general manager Bob Myers to figure out, but Kerr is high on the performances the two-way guys have contributed this season.

The Warriors lead the NBA in the most points scored by their two-way players (500+) this season. The second-most is Washington (100+). They’ve had to rely on these guys hard.

Giving two players full NBA contracts means you have to subtract from somewhere else, as Warriors Insider Monte Poole wrote about here.

The Warriors want to reward Bowman and Lee, both of whom Kerr has made sure to praise publicly as NBA-level talents. It’s still unclear how it will all shake out and the clock is ticking. After last night’s game, Bowman has worked 37 of his 45 days as a two-way player. Lee has worked 38. 

Now to Smailagic. He’s 19 years old. It was cool to see him make his NBA debut during the Christmas week homestand, but his minutes probably won’t be many this season with the big club. I say that knowing he played 10 minutes in San Antonio and 16 minutes in Minnesota. 

Smiley is in the developmental stages of his career, so the G League is the preferred spot for him. The Warriors are high on his potential!

@evenstrongerps4 Update on Looney's health? 

This season, Kevon Looney has missed 20 games with neuropathy, and five games with abdominal soreness. That’s tough for a player who is part of the Warriors foundation.

Kerr has explained that neuropathy isn’t really an injury with a start and a finish, it's an ongoing condition Looney will have to manage. 

Looney has missed so much time, other factors are now in play, like difficulty getting his conditioning up. That’s no fault of his own -- it's just the reality of getting his wind back. The stops and starts aren’t ideal. 

@houseofannie Are 42 wins within reach?
@bdzivi Once Steph returns, sometime in February, will they be able to play .500 ball from there on out for just those remaining games, at least on days when the vets aren't being rested for "load management" concerns?
@AutumnMayes1 What are the expectations for next year?? Playoff caliber team again??

I’m grouping these questions together because many question-askers are curious if the Warriors could make the playoffs this season, and what the future looks like.

This season first: The four-game winning streak over Christmas stirred some hope that in a weak West, playoffs could be a possibility. What if Steph comes back? What if Klay comes back? Could they make a push at the finish? It would be great to finish the season on a positive note, but I’m not sure the playoffs are possible. 

Steph will be re-evaluated in early February. That does not necessarily mean he’ll play at that time. Kerr said at the start of the season it’s “unlikely” Klay plays at all

The Warriors want to win for morale and to reap the rewards of what they’ve been learning this season. Winning too much could impact a lottery pick. The chips will fall where they may. No one will instruct the team to play poorly for draft purposes. 

All the struggle now builds to a promising future. All the minutes and film study and player development for guys who wouldn’t usually be in these situations will only make them stronger. With the Steph and Klay healthy next season, the Warriors should indeed be a playoff-caliber team in 2020-2021.

@MichaelSilvers8 what does the future look like for Omari Spellman? Seems like his playing time is down...thanks!

Early in the season, injuries forced the Warriors to play with eight or nine guys. Now they’re playing with 11, 12, or 13. More guys mean the minutes are spread around differently. Fewer minutes for Omari is simply the situation. He also missed a couple of games with an illness.

The Warriors believe in Omari and picked up his option back in October. That gives Omari the peace of mind that the team wants him around. 

As long as he keeps up the hustle plays and continues to score and rebound off the bench, he’ll be in good standing. He’s done well this season. 

@lvpelt When Eric Paschall fully recovers from his injury, will he be reinserted into the starting lineup? He was getting a lot of minutes and playing so well! I hope to see him get back into the ROY conversation. #askKerith

I think Paschall may get some spot starts depending on the situation, but a bench role may ideal. Paschall was an excellent starter for the Dubs during their injury-ravaged period. He earned his place in the early Rookie of the Year conversations, but that’s slowed down a bit. That’s OK!

Paschall and Jordan Poole were tossed in the fire with more minutes and responsibilities than most rookies experience. Their learning curve looked like a high-rise elevator, not a ramp. Kudos to them for doing their best. Poole is recalibrating in the G League, and I think Paschall will continue to contribute well as the minutes reshuffle. 

@barrys Where is Kevin Durant's jersey at the Chase Center? Thought the Dubs retired it.

The Dubs retired KD’s number in spirit when Joe Lacob declared:

 “...We thank KD for all of his contributions, for being an integral part to one of the most prolific runs in NBA history and wish him well as he continues his Hall of Fame journey. As long as I am Co-Chairman of this team, no player will ever wear #35 for the Warriors again.”

An actual ceremony to raise his number in the rafters is TBD. It would be strange to retire KD’s number while he’s still playing. 

@Nick_McGurk Do you think Sunny Day Real Estate will ever reform?

I don’t know. Diary came out in 1994. I discovered SDRE years later, the summer before college. You asked an innocent question, but I’ve been thinking about the perils of nostalgia. I don’t want to exist in the places that made me comfortable. 

My favorite bands were Pixies, Spoon, Sleater-Kinney and The National. I don’t identify with them anymore. Their new stuff doesn’t speak to me. They changed. I changed. Good. 

I don’t want a reboot of Ghostbusters with kid actors (it’s coming), Toy Story 12, or a re-heated Top Gun. I want new stories in different universes. Put Star Wars to bed. 

[RELATED: Predictions for rest of Warriors season]

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Monte Poole for joining Logan and me on the Runnin’ Plays podcast for a look back at the Warriors’ decade, one of the most decorated in sports. 

Monte is like a history professor in this episode. He filled in some stuff I didn’t know about the Mark Jackson years, which set up the Warriors’ championships. This is one of those conversations where I caught myself listening for 40 minutes without checking the time. 

Tune in to the episode here, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your pods.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.  

Charles Barkley rips Draymond Green after ejection in Warriors' loss

Charles Barkley rips Draymond Green after ejection in Warriors' loss

One of the Warriors' biggest rivals comes off the court. He is a Hall of Fame nonetheless, but hasn't played in an NBA game in 20 years. 

Charles Barkley can't stop ripping on Draymond Green. The feud continued Thursday night when the fiery Golden State forward was ejected in the second quarter of a 30-point home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

"He had his normal triple-single," Barkley said during halftime on TNT. "Why doesn't he talk all the stuff whe he got them other boys with him? No, man. He talks all that stuff when he's got them other boys with him. Now he's out there and gotta fight for himself and he just don't wanna play. 

"Give me a break. Y'all better quit tellin' me you can play and who can't play. I know who can play." 

Warriors coach Steve Kerr expressed his displeasure with Green letting his emotions get the best of him after the game. The two often have butted heads but always let their close bond be known. 

It was clear Kerr was not happy Thursday night, though. 

"We needed him in the second half," Kerr said sternly to reporters. "We needed him out there." 

[RELATED: Kerr's frustrations boil over after Warriors hit new low]

Green left the game with two points, four assists and one rebound in 10 minutes. He's averaging 8.0 points, but his assists have dropped to 6.2 per game and his rebounds are down to 6.2 per game as well. The three-time All-Star is shooting just 38.9 percent from the field and 27.9 percent from 3-point range.

Both are his lowest since his rookie year. 

In a season where the Warriors have gone from five straight trips to the NBA Finals to the worst record in the league, tensions are to boil over at times. That certainly was the case in Golden State's latest blowout loss.

How Steph Curry's emotional return to Warriors will change everything

ask_kerith_toyota_web.jpg
NBC Sports Bay Area

How Steph Curry's emotional return to Warriors will change everything

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askKerith.

Tip-Off

On Saturday the Warriors play in Phoenix, and Sunday they’re home to face the Wizards. The back-to-back features a major storyline: Steph Curry is expected back for that March 1 game against Washington. 

Steph said March 1 was “always the date” he carried in his mind so that he could have a moment on the calendar to work towards. It’s finally here.

A word of caution, though. Steve Kerr said it’s “the hope” that Steph plays Sunday, but it is not a guarantee yet. We will find out his status officially from the team on Friday or Saturday.

Sunday is an early tip-off at 5:30 p.m. The Wizards are fighting for a playoff spot. Steph’s targeted return is a massive positive for the Warriors, but it comes with a bundle of emotions and change. There are factors that could make this game unpredictable. Tune in.

Game on!

Via IG, @y1shwant asks, Will Steph be under any sort of minutes restriction for the rest of the season?

In Steph's first games back, the medical staff might have a limit in mind. That’s normal. Even though Kerr has complimented Steph’s conditioning during his rehab, he gives players the runway to get their legs and lungs back.

As far as a restriction for the remaining games on the schedule? I don’t think so. Not an official restriction, anyway. They’ll be sensible about how much Steph can handle.

They want him to play, there’s work to do to build chemistry with his new teammates, and the expectation is to win some games to end the season on a high note. 

Since they're not making a playoff push, they don’t need to ride Steph hard by playing him 40 minutes a night. He’ll probably get some games off where it makes sense. Expect the Warriors to find the balance between making sure Steph gets meaningful time on the court, while also helping him maintain his health to the finish. 

@GJohnde @KerithBurke What are your thoughts on 10 day contracts? How do the ten day contract players get acclamated to a team that they are on temporarily?

Ten-day contracts are like Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself.” You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow / This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.

These contracts can be last gasps in the NBA. Or, they might be quick auditions depending on the situation. For the players on 10-day contracts, they have to learn the basics of the playbook immediately, show their skills, be good teammates, and make a lasting impression in a small window of time.

That’s nerve-wracking. That’s vomit on the sweater already, mom’s spaghetti. 

@dfs30745 Why have the Warriors never used the disabled player exception? With Klay out for the season it seems a no brainer.

To use the DPE for Klay, the Warriors needed to let an NBA-approved doctor (not one of their own) evaluate Klay by Jan. 15 and conclude Klay would be “highly unlikely” to be cleared to play by June 15. 

A couple of things sprout from this situation, which could have dictated the Warriors' decision. Klay could be cleared by June 15, so the timeline doesn’t work. Or, the Warriors wanted to do their own evaluation later in the season (they announced Feb. 20 that he’s officially out for the season) to leave open a sliver of possibility that Klay could play. 

Furthermore, any player they would add to the roster if the DPE was approved would have his salary stacked on an already huge payroll. The Warriors went in a different direction to fill their roster affordably. 

Hat tip to Warriors Insider Monte Poole for helping me with this question. 

@darinbunch I’m curious what you think Damion Lee’s role will look like next season? He seems to get better every time he’s on the floor this year.

Damion has established himself as a dependable, hard-working player who will give the team scoring and grit off the bench next season.

“Scoring and grit” sounds like a basketball cereal. Yummy, clichés! 

He paid his dues in the G League, performed well this season when injuries forced guys to play heavy minutes, and earned a multi-year deal. The Warriors trust his decision-making. 

When he turns 28 at the start of next season, he’ll be one of the older players to lend his voice to a locker room that needs veterans. Damion can share his story about perseverance. 

@sorokman Do you think Ky Bowman has a future as (at least) a backup PG in a good team? I really like his intensity and confidence, feels to me a bit Van-Vleety in those areas.

Yes. Maybe because I see Ky daily -- and the speed and intensity he gives to every moment on the court -- I hold him in high esteem. 

Other evaluators might see an undrafted guy who got lucky being on the Warriors’ G League team during an injury-plagued season where they had no choice but to call guys up. They might want to see more. To me, it’s what Ky did with this opportunity that stands out. 

As a two-way rookie, he had games where he was the Warriors’ starting point guard. That’s a big stage. He didn’t fold. 

I love good stories. Ky has a good story. 

@RandyHauser Can you get a sense of what the organization's views are for next season? I think they are a lock for a top 4 spot in the west.

The expectation is to jumpstart the dynasty. Get the machine rumbling again. 

How much change will happen around their core of Steph, Klay, and Draymond next season is up in the air. But they have plenty of reasons to feel good about what the rookies did this season. Marquese Chriss has been a delight. Damion is locked in. I hope Kevon is healthy.

I said in the last mailbag I think Andrew Wiggins in a long-term piece. We’ll see what happens with the Warriors’ lottery pick and if any trade possibilities arise this summer. 

Next season should indicate the strength of the Warriors’ culture. Was the competitive spirit aflame even when the wins were few? Did they endure this crummy season and start fresh? Are good habits still in place? No slippage? 

On paper, even with some uncertainty about who will fill out the roster, the one-two punch of the rested, healthy Splash Brothers is enough in my mind for a playoff spot.

[RELATED: NBA's attitude on cannabis changing, stops shy of embrace]

Via IG, @renegadegabe asks, What’s been your favorite moment of the season? 

My favorite moment wasn’t a happy one, but a meaningful one. 

The night the Lakers played their first home game after Kobe Bryant died, the Warriors were on the road. The team was flying to Cleveland. A mechanical issue with the plane delayed the arrival by several hours. 

The team provides dinners for the players and staff traveling. Sometimes the players go, sometimes they do their own things. But a late arrival into Cleveland meant the team dinner was the best option late at night. 

The Warriors had a small, private room at a restaurant. The TVs were on, awaiting the Lakers’ tip-off. The coaches filled a table. The broadcasters filled a table. Nearly all of the players came in to eat too. 

The room was packed. It became silent as the pre-game ceremony for Kobe played out on screen. The quietness reminded me to look around and be thankful. 

This packed room grieved together. During the hush, I remember the light sounds of forks and knives on the dinner plates as we ate wordlessly. I remember the look of Quinn Cook’s anguish on the screen. I remember feeling grateful for the people I have the privilege of calling co-workers. 

That moment of togetherness will stay with me. Gathering for any meal with people you care about can be powerful, but this one was unforgettable. 

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Logan Murdock for a story few people could have written: The NBA’s dap politics

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.