Kevon Looney's return to Warriors lineup comes with real challenges


Kevon Looney's return to Warriors lineup comes with real challenges

The anticipated return of Kevon Looney on Monday barely registers around the NBA, and certainly not as much as it should to the flailing Warriors of this season.

But it can’t be overstated how much it matters to Looney.

Sure, the Warriors will benefit from adding another player to a threadbare roster. Looney will give them an additional big man, joining Willie Cauley-Stein, Marquese Chriss and Omari Spellman. The center/power forward rotation is by far the deepest component of the team.

Looney, however, is dealing with a neuropathic condition likely to always have some effect on playing time, and perhaps his career. Getting back onto the court is only the first step. Every subsequent step is a hazy gray mystery.

Neuropathy has kept Looney on sideline for all but 10 minutes on opening night more than five weeks ago, and it typically cannot be corrected by surgery or cured by medication or treatment. It can only be managed, which explains the uncertainty.

In Looney’s case, the symptoms were felt in his hamstrings, which felt strained, even though no actual strains were diagnosed. He conceded last week that he has been coping with the condition for “two or three years,” and several people afflicted with neuropathy say it never completely goes away.

The two- or three-year period referred to by Looney indicates it is related to surgeries on each hip. He underwent a procedure to repair a torn labrum in his right hip in August 2015, two months after the Warriors drafted him out of UCLA. Eight months later, in April 2016, he an arthroscopic procedure to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.

It was during that time that the Warriors worried that Looney might not have an NBA career. He clearly overcame that challenge and made valuable contributions to a championship team.

Looney and the team’s training staff believe this can be managed. The front office, which in July signed Looney to a three-year contract (with a player option in Year 3) worth $14.5 million, has similar confidence.

“We just wanted to change the game plan, manage it better and make sure I was doing everything the right way,” Looney said last week. “We’ve got it under control now. Our training staff feels good about the plan, and I feel good about my body.”

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Optimism aside, it would be most encouraging if Looney he can provide effective minutes Monday night against the Hawks. His presence should improve the team’s defense and even help its offensive flow.

The Warriors will become a better team if Looney is able to produce. They would be delighted to see him come through without ill effect.

And if that is the case, Looney would be the happiest man in Georgia.

Warriors' Rick Welts only has one box score framed in his office

Warriors' Rick Welts only has one box score framed in his office

Rick Welts has seen a lot of basketball over the years. But one single performance stands out above the rest.

The Warriors' team president and chief operating officer was asked Wednesday morning on 95.7 The Game: "Quarantine game -- if you're stuck indoors for a full year, one TV, one game playing on a loop, 24/7, 365 -- what game is Rick Welts taking?"

The Hall of Famer provided a definitive answer:

"Let's see. Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. Larry Bird. Actually not even a close call for me. I only have one box score framed in my office -- if I ever get to see my office again -- and that's Klay's 37-point quarter. Without a doubt -- the most amazing thing I've ever seen on a basketball court.

"I could never get tired of watching it. He was out of his mind. I'm not sure we'll ever see anything like that again. And the crowd was a big part of it because he reacted every time the crowd reacted. Our bench was insane.

"Everybody in the building knew they were seeing history being made."

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In the third quarter of the Warriors' win over the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 23, 2015, Klay Thompson went 13-for-13 overall, 9-for-9 from deep and 2-for-2 from the free throw line.

Very good choice, Mr. Welts.

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What sporting event Warriors' Jordan Poole will miss watching most

What sporting event Warriors' Jordan Poole will miss watching most

Warriors rookie Jordan Poole has many interests outside of basketball.

If you follow him on Instagram, you know that he loves cats.

The 20-year-old enjoys watching movies and TV shows, and generally considers himself a homebody.

Poole also likes other sports, and when Wes Goldberg of the Bay Area News Group asked him which canceled or postponed sporting events he is going to miss, the Michigan product provided an answer that might surprise you.

"I love watching the college World Series, I definitely like watching softball as well," he said. "March Madness was going to be cool of course, but that’s basketball. The college World Series is something sports-related that I was really looking forward to."

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How did Poole get into college baseball?

"I would watch the games when we were in school (at Michigan), go support my guys on the team, but I was really locked into the World Series," he answered. "Those games get pretty rowdy."

[RELATED: Paschall reveals Warriors teammate he'd quarantine with now]

Last year, Michigan reached the College World Series for the first time since 1984.

The Wolverines advanced all the way to the championship best-of-three series -- winning Game 1 before dropping the next two to Vanderbilt.

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