Jacob Evans' progress vital for Warriors under radical reconstruction

Jacob Evans' progress vital for Warriors under radical reconstruction

SACRAMENTO -- Jacob Evans III knows the Warriors are going through a radical reconstruction after one crazy Sunday, where Kevin Durant left for Brooklyn and D’Angelo Russell came back in a sign-and-trade. Andre Iguodala left the franchise that very night, and Kevon Looney and Klay Thompson formally were retained the following day.

Last year’s first-round draft pick didn’t want to talk about it. Evans gave a swift, short no comment Monday night when asked about such franchise-altering activity.

He was focused on the NBA Summer League, which the Warriors opened with a 81-77 loss to the Sacramento Kings in the California Classic at Golden 1 Center.

Staying on task will be vital for Evans, now part of a much, much younger Warriors roster that, because of a precarious salary-cap situation, will be fleshed out on the dirt cheap.

Evans was viewed as a first-round talent, and he’ll have to play like one next season to provide depth and punch to a backcourt operating without Thompson, who will be recovering from a torn ACL.

The Warriors are moving Evans to point guard this offseason, and the California Classic opener offered some offensive success and a few defensive miscues that he’d like to have back.

“I thought he did really well,” Warriors summer league coach Aaron Miles said. “I thought he was decisive for the most part. He pulled up [and shot]. He attacked in transition. He organized us and ran some things right for us. I thought he did a good job offensively. Defensively, he could’ve done a lot better, but he knows that.

"Overall, it was a good first game of summer league. The most important thing is that we have film now.”

There should be plenty of teaching tape. Evans plans to play in the entire summer league series, with three games here in Sacramento and four more in Las Vegas.

“I hope so,” Evans said. “I want to play as much as I can, to be honest with you. I’m young. I don’t need any load management. I want to play this whole thing out.”

That will give this point guard experiment a chance to breathe. The Warriors certainly hope it works, giving them an option behind Steph Curry and Russell in the backcourt with Thompson rehabbing, Iguodala gone and Shaun Livingston possibly on the way out.

[RELATED: Seven NBA free agents Warriors could pursue]

Evans' defense must improve, especially on a team that many believe will struggle in the backcourt. This offers Evans a challenge he welcomes and is diving headfirst into this offseason.

“It has been kind of fun,” Evans said. “I guess you could say it’s my natural position. That’s what I played growing up. It’s important to make the right play every time, and not just looking to shoot. I’m still learning and getting used to some things, but it has been a lot of fun.”

How Warriors' Bob Myers found positive in final Kevin Durant meeting

How Warriors' Bob Myers found positive in final Kevin Durant meeting

When Kevin Durant elected to leave the Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets when free agency opened June 30, many criticized the way in which the two-time NBA Finals MVP handled his move from coast to coast. 

Prior to his announcement to join the Nets, Durant had Warriors general manager Bob Myers fly out to New York so he could inform him of his decision in person, He did not, however, wait for Steph Curry's plane to land before word of his move to Brooklyn had leaked out. 

While some have been critical of Durant having a face-to-face with Myers just to tell him he would not be choosing to stay with the Warriors, Myers is glad the meeting/goodbye took place.

"Here's what I wanted," Myers told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on "The TK Show" podcast. "Some people I had seen write that he made me fly all the way out there. I enjoy sitting and looking at you. We had a relationship. I like hearing news. I don't think we do enough of this in life. Look at me and tell me what you're thinking. Good, bad, whatever. Let's do it that way.

"I think our relationship had earned that. So for me, even hearing that he wasn't coming back in person, I'd rather have that all day long. And I appreciated that. Some people will say 'Well, you flew to New York to hear he wasn't coming back?' Absolutely. I'd fly to China to talk to him about what he wants to do. He earned that. He deserves that. I wanted that. It also gave me some closure, as far as to hear somebody, to see their body language and hear their conviction and hear all of it, was better for me than what, a text message or an Instagram announcement or a phone call. I don't want that. So I didn't know it until then."

Myers was grateful Durant wanted to talk with him face-to-face and was fully open about his decision to end his chapter with the Warriors.

"He told me to my face, which I appreciated," Myers continued. "I didn't know before then. I had a sense that it might go the other way. But part of me wanted to allow him ... this was a time, as it is with all the players, they don't owe us anything. This is their moment to be a free agent. He doesn't have to tell me. He didn't even have to say anything then. He could have said 'Tune in, I'll let you know' or he could have done whatever he wanted to do. He's earned that.

"So for me, I was hopeful that I'd get an answer and I did. And that's when he chose to give it, which was his prerogative. So when I got there, we talked about a ton of different things, but obviously, it got to that point and he said he wasn't coming back and I asked him for his thoughts and he told me what they were."

Durant's exit from the Bay closed one of the most historic runs in sports.

Since the 2014 NBA MVP arrived in Oakland, the Warriors nearly were unbeatable, winning two NBA championships before losing a third after Durant ruptured his Achilles and Klay Thompson tore his ACL. At full strength with Durant, Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors were the greatest collection of talent in NBA history. A runaway freight train that couldn't be stopped once it went into high gear. A unit that had no problem toying with opponents for long stretches due to sheer boredom before turning it on and blowing the other team away.

[RELATED: Check out Chase Center's progress ahead of Warriors' opener]

Durant will spend the next year in rehab, hoping to make his return to the court in the 2020-21 season, while the Warriors enter the next season unsure of what the future holds. Can Curry, Green and new-addition D'Angelo Russell keep the Warriors alive until Thompson returns from his ACL rehab near the end of the season?

It's a new day in the NBA, but the Warriors and Durant always will have those three historic years.

Check out Chase Center's progress ahead of Warriors' home opener

Check out Chase Center's progress ahead of Warriors' home opener

If you haven't been paying attention to any progression photos for the new Chase Center, that's OK -- some people just want to be surprised when the Oct. 24 home opener comes around.

This post isn't for those people.

A photo recently surfaced to show that the new home of the Warriors is coming together nicely:

(r/Warriors posted by u/jball828)

Chase Center recently just added an outdoor video board and the word "huge" doesn't do it justice -- it covers an entire portion of the building.

And some internal views:

[RELATED: Warriors logo will change next season]

A preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers will be played in the San Francisco arena Oct. 5.

The Warriors will host Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers in the regular-season home opener Oct. 24.