Why Bell returning to Warriors with something to prove

Jordan Bell

The last time the Warriors won a playoff series, Jordan Bell started at center in the series-clincher, as Golden State completed the sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2019 Western Conference finals. He made one more start and played sparingly in The Finals, as the injury-ravaged Warriors ultimately saw their dynastic run come to an end at the hand of the Toronto Raptors.

Within a month, so much changed. Kevin Durant left for the Brooklyn Nets in free agency and Golden State quickly pivoted to a sign-and-trade for D'Angelo Russell, thereby instituting the hard cap. Consequently, the Warriors were extremely limited in their ability to fill out the rest of the roster, and Bell -- a restricted free agent -- ultimately ended up signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

That didn't end up working out, and Bell's NBA career soon was on life support. He couldn't crack the rotation in Minnesota, and then was sent to the Houston Rockets as salary filler in a midseason trade. The next day, the Rockets shipped him to the Memphis Grizzlies, with whom he lasted less than a month before being waived. Stops with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers were short-lived, as well.

Sensing he was running out of chances to establish himself in the league, Bell went to work. According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau, Bell spent half of last year working with a trainer in Los Angeles to redefine his game -- and saw immediate results.


"Pigeonholed with the Warriors, Timberwolves and Grizzlies as a rim-runner and interior defender," Letourneau wrote, "Bell was finally comfortable putting the ball on the floor, finding open teammates and knocking down mid-range jumpers."

Bell hasn't had many opportunities to showcase his new game in the NBA this season. He signed a 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards in January, but an ankle injury cut that short. He then posted dominant numbers during a stint in the G League, returned for a second 10-day contract with Washington and has been waiting for his next chance ever since.

Naturally, that chance is coming back where it all began for Bell. He reportedly will sign a two-way contract with the Warriors and provide some much-needed depth in the frontcourt. According to Letourneau, Bell received interest from the Wizards in recent days, but he opted for Golden State because, as Letourneau wrote, he "wanted to return to where he began his NBA career, play in a familiar system and atone for his past missteps."

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Those missteps included general displays of immaturity, the occasional bumping of heads with coaches, and most notably, an instance in which Bell charged a gift shop candle to the hotel bill of assistant coach Mike Brown. Bell's mentor and former high school coach, Sharrief Metoyer, believes the journey he has been on ever since has forced him to learn from his mistakes.

"He’s been through a lot," Metoyer told Letourneau. "I think that he now understands the value of being a professional and how to be a professional. Sometimes, you don’t know how to be a professional when you’re young. It took some time, but he’s there."

"I think being out of the league, and all of the uncertainty that came with that just made him put his head down and work even harder," Metoyer added. "Each opportunity that he gets, he’s been more grateful because he knows what it means to lose it."

Now, back where it all began, Bell has a tremendous opportunity to go out there and prove it.

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