Warriors

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Warriors care about NBA titles, not noise

ask_kerith_toyota_web.jpg
Tara Funk / NBC Sports Bay Area

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Warriors care about NBA titles, not noise

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

Right off the top, let’s get to the injury updates that @CuffyMarva @JustLuna13 @Prannoy29 @daphatroan and others asked about this week for DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant.

DeMarcus: He practiced Thursday for the first time since tearing his left quad on April 16. He very likely will play in the NBA Finals, though which game he'll make his debut in is TBD.

KD: Although he is making good progress, he has not been cleared for on-court activities. He likely will not play in the first games of the Finals, but the Warriors have hope that he’ll be able to play sometime during the series.

Some of this uncertainty might frustrate fans because the exact time for either player to return is unclear. But that’s the nature of injuries. Give DeMarcus and KD the space to heal and prepare to play at a high level. This time of year demands it.

Game On!

@SN0FL4KE How do you compare Boogie and Durant’s road to recovery? Durant seems to get a lot of negative media attention, while DeMarcus (who was in the same boat as Durant to start the year) has been able to fly under the radar for the most part. Is it fair in your opinion?

The Warriors had an idea that DeMarcus’ quad injury was serious, but they also knew a timeframe for his possible comeback. KD’s calf injury has been an evolving situation, with weekly progress reports. And KD has a higher profile on the team, and in the NBA, so the intrigue about his injury feels different.

I saw the hot debate question has moved on from, “Are the Warriors better without KD?” to “Are the Warriors more fun without KD?” and both are silly. Regarding fun and big performances, the Warriors found a way to clinch the series against the Rockets and then sweep the Trail Blazers because they had to. Lose, and it’s over.

I like how much fun Steph, Draymond and Klay had doing it. They’ve been the long-term foundation of the team, and it’s a healthy situation that they play so well together. But I do not understand the negativity around KD. He joins the fun. He creates the fun with some dominating scoring performances. This team celebrates the hot hand. They all shine.

Whatever way the wins come, everyone on the team reacts well to each other as they strive to win a third consecutive championship. Here’s what Kevon Looney told me about the journey the Warriors have been on this season to arrive at the Finals.

@CandlestickWill Will all these “insiders” talking out of their (peach emoji) actually lead KD to stay with the Warriors?

Nothing someone says on a debate show, in an article or on social media will make KD do something.

He told me months ago he has nothing to prove, nor would these people talking out of their (peach emoji) mean anything to him. This is random, but do remember during these playoffs when Jeff Van Gundy dropped a gem during a broadcast: “Don’t listen to criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from”? KD isn’t listening to anyone he doesn’t respect.

He has an inner circle of people he cares about, and they’ll help him arrive at his free-agency decision. It’s his choice. Everything else is noise to be ignored.

@707SportsFan Can any of Draymond's great play as of late be attributed the report where NBA players called him overrated? Is there any extra fire in him being on on the national spotlight after that report?

Draymond probably saw that report, but that doesn’t mean it’s fuel. He’s beyond needing extra fire to play his best. Here’s another player who doesn’t have anything to prove. He’s self-motivated to live up to the talent and desire inside himself.

Regarding this report, with 30 teams and a 15-man roster for each, that’s 450 guys. The report contained the results for 127 guys who talked. That’s a small sample size. And of that sample, just 47 answered the question, “Who’s the most overrated?” Draymond and Russell Westbrook tied for first with 17 percent of the vote.

Don’t get bogged down in this stuff. Draymond isn’t.

@dshiao @KerithBurke Damian Jones picked up the 3 quick fouls in Game 3. He was pulled after 3 minutes and was then DNP'd in Game 4. Will he get some minutes in the Finals? #askKerith

I think so. But emphasis on the “some.”

Steve Kerr acknowledged he probably played Damian too soon. Kerr was talking about the situation, not that DJ wasn’t ready to play physically. Kerr tried a lineup shake-up, and it didn’t work out. Oh well.

DJ will bounce back, and the time in between the Western Conference finals and the NBA Finals will help give him more runway to be comfortable playing at game speed again. There aren’t many practices during the playoffs, but nine days off in between games means solid practice time is popping up.

DJ won’t get many minutes with DeMarcus Cousins coming back. His usage also will depend on matchups and other injuries impacting the rotations. The usual stuff.

@Prestemon Do players wait for help getting up off the floor as a bonding thing or do they really have trouble doing it by themselves?

It’s a support-your-teammate thing. It’s camaraderie. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if no one helped you up? You’d have to be an unpopular guy, or on a team undisciplined about the norms.

Via IG, @arock75 asks, Will the time off be good for our Warriors?

Oh yeah. I know there’s a “rest versus rust” concern, but this time off will heal bodies and soothe minds. The mental part of performing at a high level is draining, and it’s been a long season. I’m not playing 48 minutes of professional basketball every other night, but I know how I feel this time of year. Tired. Mind-scrambled. Lots of deep sighs.

Having lighter team obligations and time away from basketball makes it easier to go back to the game refreshed. The mental edge will make the Warriors more powerful.

@rj1975 Is there reporter protocol at the post game press conferences? #AskKerith

Postgame is the place for questions that react to what happened in the game and how those things might fit into larger team storylines or NBA history. The people facilitating the press conference ask reporters to say their name and workplace before asking their question.

@MLEco2h2o When do we finally get a WNBA team in the Bay Area?

I don’t know exactly when, but it’s something Joe Lacob is thinking about. Last March, Lacob said he believes a Bay Area WNBA team would be successful and he’s open to exploring the possibility.

According to this 2017 report, timing is important ... as in, when Chase Center is completed. That’s soon!

And for the folks who don’t know, the WNBA regular season starts today! Read the major storylines on Swish Appeal and High Post Hoops.

High Five

Congratulations to the Warriors for collecting some honors. Draymond and Klay made the NBA’s All-Defensive Team as second-team selections. Additional kudos go to Steph Curry for making the All-NBA First Team, and to KD for making the second team.

Klay was perturbed he wasn’t an All-NBA selection, and he wondered aloud, “Do I think there are that many guards in the league better than me? Nope.”

Warriors Outsider Drew Shiller detailed why Klay will miss out on millions of dollars because he wasn’t picked for this All-NBA team. But in typically Klay fashion, he declared what makes him feel better: “Rings.”

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

Bob Myers explains what attracted Warriors to D'Angelo Russell trade

Bob Myers explains what attracted Warriors to D'Angelo Russell trade

The Warriors were about to lose Kevin Durant for nothing in free agency this summer. Then general manager Bob Myers pivoted and pulled out a sign-and-trade to acquire All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell from the Brooklyn Nets for Durant.

The move caught many by surprise and led to speculation that the Warriors only acquired Russell with the intention of flipping him for other assets.

Myers recently rejected the idea that the Warriors took Russell just to trade him, and this week, he talked to The Athletic's Tim Kawakami about going into his free agency meeting with Durant, and his mindset once KD told him he was leaving Golden State.

"From that point on, the motivation going in and leaving, obviously leaving, I left with a certainty that [Durant] wasn't coming back," Myers said on The TK Show. "Going in, my job, our job as a front office, is to prepare for what if Kevin does come back and what if Kevin doesn't come back. It wasn't necessarily an immediate pivot to D'Angelo.

"It was, 'These are our options if Kevin doesn't come back. What can we do?' And for the people listening, it was simple. Either we do something like we did, which was more aggressive, whether it would have been that or something else, or another formulation of a sign-and-trade or using a huge trade exception, or we stand pat and signing a taxpayer mid-level. Those were the two pivot points. We obviously went the way we did."

Russell isn't the game-changing, Hall of Fame talent that Durant is, but he’s coming off his first NBA All-Star Game appearance, and set career highs in points per game, assists per game, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage last season.

For Myers and the Warriors, there are things to like about what Russell brings to the team.

"The attraction for us was, what's very hard in our business and in any sport is, how do you get a talented, young player?" Myers said. "It's very difficult. How do you do it in my job or the front office? Usually it's through the draft or a trade. And most times you try to trade for a guy that's young and good, you have to give up something that's easier, either a guaranteed high pick or a lottery guaranteed pick, or a good player or a combination of players. It's hard to do.

"We saw an opportunity to do it. That's why we did it. And that's the direction we went in. The other direction would have been not to do that and stay the course and see where that went. But we chose the path, and we're pretty happy with it."

Despite losing Durant, the Warriors were able to replace him with an All-Star-caliber player who’s just 23 years old.

[RELATED: Russell working with Steve Nash]

Russell, Steph Curry and Draymond Green will have to hold down the fort in the Bay until Klay Thompson recovers from his torn ACL. Once the five-time All-Star returns, the Warriors will possess one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA.

That's something Myers and Co. definitely have to feel good about.

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 rehabbing his Achilles, 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.