Warriors

Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr at odds over how much Warriors star should shoot

Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr at odds over how much Warriors star should shoot

OAKLAND – With teammates and coaches urging him to be more assertive with his shot, Kevin Durant says he knows what the Warriors need from him and how best to deliver it, regardless of the “gimmicky” defense of the Clippers.

The gimmick Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers threw at Durant in Games 1 and 2 is mostly in the form of relentlessly pesky guard Patrick Beverley.

“I’m not going get in the way of the game because I want to have a little back-and-forth with Patrick Beverley,” Durant said after practice Wednesday.

“I’m Kevin Durant. You know who I am. Y’all know who I am.”

Durant is an MVP and a four-time scoring champion. He averaged 26 points per game in the regular season and averages 27 for his 12 NBA seasons. He scored 21 points on 16 shots in Game 1 and then 23 on eight shots in Game 2. 

The Warriors, aware that Durant’s attempt rate diminished greatly over the final weeks of the season – he averaged 10.8 shots over the final nine games, 17.6 over the previous nine – would like to see those numbers go up in the playoffs, beginning with Game 3 on Thursday in LA.

Because he’s such an accomplished and efficient scorer, more movement and aggression should mean more shots for Durant. That subject has been addressed with Durant, according to coach Steve Kerr.

“The guy is the most skilled basketball player on planet earth,” Kerr said. “There’s nobody who can do what he can do. It’s the playoffs. Defenses are more locked in. They play everybody tougher. I don’t know how many shots he got the other night. Seven? Eight? Absolutely, he needs to be more aggressive. It’s the playoffs. He can get any shot he wants, any time.

“So I want to see him get 20 shots. Thirty.”

Though he has a nine-inch height advantage over Beverley, Durant points out that is somewhat deceptive because the Clippers usually send at least one other defender his way.

“When I get the ball and I’m in position to score, I will look to score,” Durant said. “But if I don’t have an option to score, I will look to pass. We run a lot of plays here. We move the ball every time downcourt, so every time I touch it, I’m not going to break a play just to be aggressive just because I need to get up 30 shots. Because it would look like something is wrong with me.

“I’m going to play basketball. We won Game 1 that way. We were up 30 in Game 2. I think we should just stick to the game plan we had the first two-and-a-half quarters and do that for 48 minutes.”

Durant has a point. As the Warriors built a 31-point lead midway through the third quarter, he was relatively passive with his shot.

“I’m not going to go out there and just go shoot 20 or 30 shots,” he said. “I don’t play like that. When we were up 30 points, I had five shots. Everybody’s shots were evenly distributed around that time, so me taking two more shots after that is not the reason why we lost.”

This, too, is true. The more visible problem for the Warriors – and for Durant – was the number of turnovers. Durant committed four in the third quarter and two more in the fourth as the Clippers chipped away at the deficit until they took the lead and the game.

[RELATED: KD needs to be resuscitated, and only Steph has the power]

Yet there never is a situation where the most efficient scorer shouldn’t take advantage of his matchup. Beverley, as disruptive as he is, can’t contain KD. And if Beverley gets help, KD passes well enough to burn that strategy.

Durant’s decision to be more selective than assertive with his shot can work. But the Warriors want to see him go to work. They would accept more production now, and they’re going to need it as they go deeper into the postseason.

Eleven players Warriors could target with taxpayer mid-level exception

Eleven players Warriors could target with taxpayer mid-level exception

General manager Bob Myers and the Warriors front office have some work to do whenever the NBA offseason begins.

After five straight NBA Finals appearances, the Warriors have the worst record in the NBA this season.

So it’s up to Myers and Co. to add a few pieces that will help the Warriors get back into contention for an NBA title.

In addition to having one of the top picks in the 2020 NBA Draft and a massive $17.2 million trade exception acquired in the Andre Iguodala deal, the Warriors will have the ability to use the taxpayer mid-level exception, which ESPN’s Bobby Marks estimated will be around $5.9 million.

That number is based on the salary cap, and if that number goes down due to the loss of revenue caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, the value of the taxpayer mid-level exception could shrink as well.

Hard capped by the D’Angelo Russell-Kevin Durant trade with Brooklyn last summer, the Warriors couldn’t go over the luxury tax line this past season. But in 2020-21, the hard cap is gone and Draymond Green’s contract extension kicks in, meaning Golden State will cross the luxury tax threshold.

[RELATED: Steph among Giannis' favorite players]

The Warriors can use the entire taxpayer MLE to sign one player or they can split up the total to sign several players.

Here are 11 pending free agents, in no particular order, that the Warriors could use the Taxpayer MLE on this offseason:

VIEW 11 WARRIORS' TARGETS HERE

Kevin Durant’s first NBA title actually was start of his Warriors end

Kevin Durant’s first NBA title actually was start of his Warriors end

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Warriors' 2017 NBA Finals-clinching win over the Cavs tonight at 8 PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

A black Tesla carrying precious cargo stopped in the crowded Oracle Arena parking lot hours after the Warriors won the 2017 NBA Finals, at the insistence of one Kevin Durant.

Carrying his first of two NBA Finals MVP trophies, clad in his first championship hat, Durant walked into the crowd, basking in his biggest personal conquest to date.

On the surface, Durant simultaneously had reached his personal and professional mountaintops. Eleven months removed from his departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder, he had exorcised the manufactured demons that come with nine title-less seasons. His summer signing with the Warriors in 2016 solidified one of the greatest collections of talent in NBA history.

Hours before his parking-lot party, Durant capped a series by outplaying LeBron James, the league's best player and his biggest on-court rival, over the five-game series. But the moment, as Durant and the Warriors found out years later, never yielded the long-term happiness he believed it would.

Durant came to the Bay in search of happiness months after his last season with the Thunder.

Initially, Oklahoma City embraced him. Off the court, he returned the favor, donating more than $1 million toward disaster relief efforts following a tornado in 2013. On the court, Durant was just as giving, helping the Thunder reach the playoffs seven times, including a Finals appearance in 2012. Along the way, he formed one of the league's formidable duos with Russell Westbrook. But, after nine seasons, Durant felt he wanted more, heading West to find fulfillment alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Green's role in Durant's psyche was noteworthy. The Warriors forward recruited Durant for much of the 2015-16 season, even as the Thunder positioned themselves as the defending champs' biggest Western Conference adversary. Green continued his push after the Warriors' loss to the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals, admitting he called Durant, pleading for him to head West, and again during the team's pitch meeting one month later in The Hamptons.

Green's prodding from the West Coast made sense soon after Durant left the Plains for the Bay. Immediately after he announced his departure, bedlam commenced in Oklahoma City. Reports of people burning jerseys surprised even Durant.

"I really didn’t think it was that serious until I started to see the backlash and see the hateful things that people were saying," Durant said in 2017. "It’s just continually bad, it’s just still hate. It is just pure hate."

The city's vitriol continued in Durant's return as an opponent. Cupcake shirts were the desired dress code at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and boos rang every time Durant touched the ball. The energy was so palpable that Durant's new teammates even jawed with fans courtside, puzzling him even more.

"I understand in a basketball sense that you want to be so loyal to your team, and you want to feel like you’re a part of something, because everybody wants to feel like they’re a part of something," Durant added in 2017. "So, I understood that part, but it’s got to the point now, it’s like, now it’s getting big.

"Like, come on man, what are we even talking about this for? This is basketball, I’m enjoying myself playing basketball. What you say and what you do is not affecting my work. That’s the most important thing is the work."

Durant's new address yielded success on and off the floor. The Warriors were flawless during the regular season, finishing with a league-best 67-15 record. That dominance continued in the playoffs, as the Warriors posted a 16-1 record, dismantling every team in its wake.

Along the way, Durant made his most convincing bid for status of the league's best player, averaging 25 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game through the first three rounds. He outplayed James in the Finals, capped by a dagger 3-pointer in his rival's face in Game 3, all but sealing his first title.

But in the days after Durant's first championship parade, things began to change for him. In the ensuing years, the bonds he built began to deteriorate. His mother, Wanda, a mainstay at Oracle Arena during his first season in Oakland, had financial disagreements with her son, according to the Wall Street Journal, and rarely came around as she and his brother, Wayne, retreated back East.

On the court, even after Durant claimed his second title over James and the Cavs, his relationship with Green took a hit, as a verbal sideline spat during a game against the Clippers in Los Anglees defined his headline-plagued final Warriors season. Durant became more distant from his teammates. Then, the player who once came to the Bay seeking a family environment left feeling like distant kinfolk.

[RELATED: Warriors All-21st Century Team]

"I’ll never be one of those guys," Durant told the Wall Street Journal in September. "I didn’t get drafted there. Steph Curry, obviously drafted there. Andre Iguodala, won the first Finals, first championship. Klay Thompson, drafted there. Draymond Green, drafted there. And the rest of the guys kind of rehabilitated their careers there."

Durant is basketball's superstar nomad. Since high school, Oklahoma City marked the only place that saw his talents for more than three years. In Golden State, he said he wanted to play in a system suited for his game, for a team on the rise. Now, he's hoping to win alongside friends Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan in Brooklyn.

But as Durant learned in the days after he exited that Tesla in 2017, his true happiness will come from within, and no trophy or accolade can ever fill that void.