Warriors

Kevin Durant can return for NBA playoffs if healthy, Adam Silver says

Kevin Durant can return for NBA playoffs if healthy, Adam Silver says

The NBA is prepared to come back on July 31.

Is Kevin Durant?

Durant hasn't played in a game since rupturing his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals last year. That was his last game with the Warriors before signing with the Brooklyn Nets last summer, and his only competitive on-court action has come in scrimmages with his new teammates. Brooklyn general manager Bobby Marks called the status of Durant's return "a $110 million question" last month, but Marks left the door open for his return.

So did NBA commissioner Adam Silver in an interview with Turner Sports' "Inside the NBA" on Thursday, telling panelist Charles Barkley he didn't think it was unfair that players who sustained what were thought to be season-ending injuries to come back when the season restarts.

"We're gonna allow it," Silver said. "And I'd only say, Charles, that this has been the back-and-forth with our teams. There's so much here that's not fair, and we're choosing among multiple bad alternatives given the (coronavirus) pandemic we're dealing with. ... I think, ultimately, to the extent a team has a healthy roster and those players are able to come back, they are eligible to play."

Kevin Durant said last October on ESPN's "First Take" that he didn't expect to play during the 2019-20 season. Durant wasn't set to travel with the Nets when they were scheduled to visit the Warriors at Chase Center on March 12, but the rest of the Nets never played there, either. The NBA suspended its season on March 11 due to the pandemic.

The Nets, as well as the 21 other teams who will make the trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, will play eight regular-season games to determine seeding before the playoffs begin. Brooklyn, currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, would have to play in a play-in series if the Nets slip to eighth or ninth in the conference.

Durant wouldn't be at the peak of his powers after not playing in any games, let alone those with seeding and (eventually) playoff elimination on the line. Inserting a two-time Finals MVP into the lineup would represent a slight improvement, however, as would getting point guard Kyrie Irving, who hasn't played since Feb. 1, back on the court.

[RELATED: Kerr issues message to Warriors fans about his lineups]

Rich Kleiman, Durant's agent, couldn't envision the superstar returning when he was asked about the possibility in March. Nearly three months have passed since then, and close to four will have passed when the Nets would begin training camp in Orlando under the NBA's plan.

If Durant's able to come back, he has the NBA's blessing to do so.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Steph Curry donating Breonna Taylor tribute shoes to Black Lives Matter

Steph Curry donating Breonna Taylor tribute shoes to Black Lives Matter

Warriors guard Steph Curry completed his first round of the American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe on Friday, and did so while drawing attention to a cause that he doesn't want people to forget about. Towards the toe end of each of his golf shoes were Breonna Taylor's name and likeness.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman and EMT, died in her own home on March 13 after being shot eight times by Louisville police while executing a search warrant. Nearly four entire months have passed since that tragic day and all three officers involved have yet to be arrested, sparking outrage across the country.

Curry's choice of footwear Friday was one of the latest examples in what has been an ongoing chorus of calls for justice. And beyond that, he intends to donate the shoes to Black Lives Matter so that they may be auctioned, with all proceeds going to the organization.

"Obviously, shining a light on Breonna Taylor," Curry explained after completing his round. "Demanding and praying and wishing for justice for her and her family. Anytime you have an opportunity to be on a stage or a platform to raise awareness and continue the conversation going on in our country, I'm all for that. I'll send these to the Black Lives Matter organization and hopefully raise a lot of money for the amazing work that they're doing. 

"We all have roles to play in terms of changing the racial climate in our country, and this is definitely more than just a moment that we're feeling. This is a very small gesture, but hopefully the money goes a long way, and hopefully they continue the conversation of what needs to change all the way around."

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

While the continued search for justice for Taylor and her family clearly is of particular concern for Curry, the donation of his shoes fits in with a wonderful theme of the ACC tournament. Rather than have a purse go to the victor, all winnings will be donated to a number of charities.

Naturally, Curry was more than happy to play for those additional causes.

"Usually there's a purse to play for," Curry said, "but obviously with everything going on, the ability to come up here and play golf and know that -- I don't know what the amount is -- it's all going to worthy causes that will impact lives, and we get to do it by being out here playing golf and being on a stage, it's pretty awesome to be a part of that."

Curry is one of the most popular athletes on the planet, with a platform to match. He understands his role, and continues to do great and important things within it.

How Andrew Wiggins won over Damion Lee, Warriors with quest to improve

How Andrew Wiggins won over Damion Lee, Warriors with quest to improve

The Warriors didn't see a whole lot of Andrew Wiggins, but they saw enough to get excited.

Wiggins, who joined Golden State ahead of February's NBA trade deadline, played just 12 games with the Warriors before the NBA season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. He averaged 19.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in that stretch, winning over his new teammates in the process.

"I love Wiggs," Warriors guard Damion Lee said of Wiggins on this week's episode of the "Runnin' Plays" podcast. "He's quiet and reserved, but even from the point of just playing with him from the first game even until the last game that we had, you can tell that he knows how to play the game and wants to continue to learn more."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Wiggins No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, headlining a trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves that brought Kevin Love to Northeast Ohio. Wiggins showed flashes and even signed a max contract that went into effect ahead of the 2018-19 season, but he never consistently put it together in the Twin Cities. The 25-year-old never shot better than 46 percent from the field (or 36 percent from beyond the arc) with the T-Wolves while also struggling on the defensive end.

Wiggins' arrival in the Bay Area was a breath of fresh air, the Warriors said, because of their hole on the wing after signing-and-trading Kevin Durant and outright trading Andre Iguodala last summer. Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams was pleased with Wiggins' defense, and the 1.3 steals per game Wiggins averaged with Golden State before the shutdown would've, if sustained over the course of a full season, been his career high.

The forward's role will look much different next season, as it's difficult to imagine Wiggins averaging 15-plus field-goal attempts per game while playing alongside a healthy Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Coach Steve Kerr isn't expecting Wiggins to be a star once Curry and Thompson return, and Lee said Wiggins' versatility will allow him to thrive in a reduced role.

"He can shoot it, can make plays, can create," Lee continued. "He had a game where he had 10 assists (against the Denver Nuggets on March 3), I think he had another game where he had 10 rebounds (against the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 23). He has it, and obviously once the whole band is back together ... and everyone's healthy, I feel like Wiggs' role will be carved out and he'll be able to excel to the best of his ability."

[RELATED: Five bold predictions for Warriors' important offseason]

Wiggins has had big nights before, but he hasn't sustained them into stardom. His per-game averages with the Warriors this season didn't look all that different from his Timberwolves career (19.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game), but the former No. 1 pick isn't going to carry the same offensive load next season.

The Warriors are counting on that fact bringing out the best in him.