Warriors

Kevon Looney reacts to Steve Kerr calling him 'foundational piece'

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AP

Kevon Looney reacts to Steve Kerr calling him 'foundational piece'

Programming note: Watch the NBA Finals pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday, May 30 at 4:00 p.m., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Kevon Looney registered 12 points, 14 rebounds, one steal and one block in the Golden State Warriors' Game 4 Western Conference finals win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

After the victory, head coach Steve Kerr said something quite powerful.

“Looney has become one of our foundational pieces," he told reporters.

Kevon Looney. Foundational piece.

Let that sink in.

Two months after the Warriors selected the UCLA product with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, he underwent surgery on his right hip.

Then in April 2016, he had surgery on his left hip.

In late October 2017, the Dubs elected to decline his $2.23 million option for the 2018-19 season, which put Looney's future in the NBA very much in jeopardy.

But things started to click in Year 3 and he seemingly always produced when Kerr called his number. By the end of last season, Looney was playing so well that it looked like he had become too expensive for the Warriors to retain.

Unfortunately for Looney, he didn't receive any offers in free agency and he returned to the Dubs on a minimum deal.

This season, the 23-year old averaged career highs in minutes (18.5), points (6.3), field goal percentage (62.5), rebounds (5.2) and assists (1.5).

During the playoffs, he's averaging 7.5 points and 4.9 rebounds while shooting over 72 percent overall and 80 percent from the free throw line.

And his ability to defend guards in isolation has made him invaluable. 

“To be called a foundational piece, I never would’ve believed that,” Looney said to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “Even when I was playing pretty good last season, I never would’ve taken it that far.”

Earlier this year, Looney's alma mater -- Hamilton High School in Milwaukee -- held a ceremony to retire his jersey. Yes, the big man grew up in Milwaukee and there's a chance the Warriors face his hometown Bucks in the NBA Finals.

What a special homecoming that would be for the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent.

[REWINDHow Iguodala helped Looney get career on track]

"We have a lot of summer priorities," Golden State general manager Bob Myers told The Athletic. "I don’t know if you can have seven or eight priorities.

"But he’s a priority.”

Foundational piece.

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How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

While the NBA is inching closer to resuming the 2019-20 season, Europe's top basketball league decided not to pursue the same avenue.

The EuroLeague announced Monday that it was canceling the remainder of its 2019-20 season.

Each EuroLeague team had played 28 of their 34 regular-season games.

Ordinarily, the EuroLeague ending its season wouldn't be news for the Warriors and their fans. But 2020 has been a completely different year for the Warriors. Mired in a 15-50 season, Golden State will have a top-five pick in this year's NBA draft.

That means 19-year-old Israeli prospect Deni Avdija, who plays for Maccabi Tel-Aviv, is on the Warriors' radar. NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole reported at the end of April that the Warriors have traveled to Europe to take a look at Avdija, who could be a top-five draft pick.

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

With the Warriors missing the playoffs this season, the team was going to use the unexpected free time in May to go scout prospects in Europe. Coach Steve Kerr reportedly was supposed to go watch Killian Hayes and Théo Maledon, while Kent Lacob, director of team development, was going to scout Avdija. But the coronavirus pandemic forced the Warriors to cancel those travel plans.

Due to travel restrictions, the Warriors likely wouldn't have been able to send anyone to watch Avdija play in the final six EuroLeague games had they been held, but they could have at least gotten more film on him. Now, they will have to form their opinion of Avdija with the in-person scouting they've already done and the film they have on hand.

In 21 games this season against Israel Basketball Super League competition, Avdija averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 26.6 minutes.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft 7.0]

Avdija hasn't seen as much playing time in the EuroLeague, so his numbers aren't great. In 26 games against better competition, he's averaging 4.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 14.2 minutes.

We don't know when the NBA will hold the 2020 draft, but if the Warriors select Avdija, we'll know they saw enough of him before the coronavirus put a stop to basketball around the world.

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Sunday’s “The Match,” featuring a showdown between NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady along with PGA icons Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods was a smashing success. The event raised $20 million for coronavirus relief in the United States, and was the highest-rated golf event in cable television history.

The access and humorous trash talk throughout has led many to speculate as to which duo from sports could be part of the next iteration of the event. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd discussed this on Monday and posed some interesting potential pairings.

"Michael has always let it be known that he's pretty good at golf," Cowherd said. "Steph is easily the best current NBA golfer, that I would pay to see."

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

Steph Curry tweeted Sunday that he’d like to be included next time around, and sure enough Cowherd first mentioned a duel between the Warriors star and another NBA icon with North Carolina roots in Michael Jordan. MJ was shown to play golf frequently throughout his NBA career during ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” and continues to be a fan of the sport.

Curry is an avid golf fan and was glued to his television Sunday during “The Match.” He’s played in some professional golf events in the past, and always is among the best current athletes at the celebrity-laden American Century Championship each summer in Lake Tahoe.

Given MJ’s propensity to trash talk during his historic NBA career, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be trading barbs constantly with Curry. Steph’s confidence never has been in question and he likely would have plenty of fun going back and forth with Jordan.

[RELATED: Who Warriors fans think Steph Curry should team up with in 'The Match']

Throwing a couple PGA pros in, especially two who are avid NBA fans could make for some great conversation. As we saw throughout Sunday’s foursome, Mickelson and Woods were more than willing to engage and dish out some one-liners.

MJ likely wouldn’t be thrilled about being mic’d up for an entire round with no editorial control. But if both parties would be willing, this would be the most highly-anticipated event in the history of golf.

Plus we finally could settle that pesky debate of which team was more dominant between Curry’s 2016-17 Warriors and Jordan’s 1995-96 Bulls.