Warriors

Klay Thompson, Zaza Pachulia bromance persists with new-look Warriors

Klay Thompson, Zaza Pachulia bromance persists with new-look Warriors

It's arguably the best bromance in basketball.

Klay Thompson and Zaza Pachulia were teammates for two eventful seasons, both of which culminated in the Warriors winning the NBA Championship. Neither player has won a title since, and now both find themselves in very different situations than they were in just two years ago. 

That is, neither is actually playing.

Pachulia announced his retirement in August after 16 seasons in the NBA, but has since rejoined the Warriors organization as a consultant. Thompson, meanwhile, is rehabbing his way back from a torn ACL suffered in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

The Warriors' odd couple often was inseparable as teammates, and now as part of the same organization once again, the two have been brought together again.

"One of the reasons I love this game is because I've built special relationships with special people," Pachulia said of his friendship with Thompson. "It's been tough for him, obviously, with the season starting and not being able to play and help the team. And he's such a competitor. He loves this game. He's been into this game so much. Knowing him, it's very tough.

"It's been tough for me as well ... retirement, new role, adjusting to this ... so to be honest, we haven't had a lot of time to get together off the court, but I'll be seeing him and I've been talking to him a lot, either on the phone or when he comes into the facility. He's been there rehabbing, working out. But we've got a long season, so I'm sure we're going to get together, especially since we're both in town."

Pachulia sees an additional benefit to being back in the vicinity of his buddy.

"Good to be back with him," he added. "We can go on double-dates with him."

Just like when they were teammates, Pachulia views his current mandate within the friendship simply as being there for Klay.

"He definitely needs support," Pachulia said. "To be away from something you love that you've been doing all your life ... it's different. It's a lot like retirement ... it feels like it. That's how I think I can help him. Just to talk to him, to be around him. Obviously, we trust each other, we care about each other. The conversation is always interesting, and we always have a great time.

"That's the key -- for him to keep his mind right. Rehab is such a slow pace compared to what he's used to."

[RELATED: Zaza makes lofty comparison for Warriors rookie Paschall]

Thompson isn't Golden State's only star guard currently sidelined with a significant injury. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry will be out until at least February recovering from a broken wrist, but Pachulia sees the silver lining in both unfortunate events.

"For them, they've had so much pressure and load the last couple of years, I think it's good to reload and refresh their mind and body," Pachulia asserted. "They're both going to have an opportunity to work on their body in a different way than they've been doing it ... I have faith both of them are going to come back hungry and go for another run and bring that joy and excitement back."

Seeing the Splash Brothers back out on the court certainly would bring joy back into the lives of Warriors fans. Until then, though, you can count on the bromance to help.

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the waning moments of the Warriors' latest loss Friday night, their bench resembled the front row of a fashion show more than a functioning NBA roster.

Toward the end of the bench, All-Star guard Stephen Curry sat in a black suit jacket, covering a massive cast protecting his broken left hand. To Curry's left, center Kevon Looney sat in a gray suit, his immediate future in peril as he continues to seek answers about an injured hamstring.

That type of visual has become commonplace over the last month.

Over that stretch, 11 Warriors players have been sidelined with injuries, crippling a roster that seemed armed with an outside shot of making the playoffs on opening night just three weeks ago.

The latest blow came Saturday morning, when an MRI confirmed that D'Angelo Russell had suffered a sprained thumb, sidelining him for at least two weeks. Over his previous six games, the guard had averaged 29.7 points on 48 percent shooting from the field, including a 52-point, nine-rebound performance against Minnesota, so his absence will be felt.

That's because the Warriors are in roster transition, marked by their youthful core.

When Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall were drafted in June, the expectation was that the rookies would be brought along slowly, learning behind Golden State's battered All-Star cast. The myriad injuries changed that, though, forcing both into more minutes than initially anticipated.

While Paschall has flourished in that spot (15.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game), Poole has struggled. Since Curry's injury in the fourth game of the season, Poole has shot 29 percent from the field, and he has hit just five of his last 28 shots over his last two contests.

The trickle-down effect started on the eve of training camp, when Warriors general manager Bob Myers announced that center Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage.

Last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Draymond Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. On Monday, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand.

Amid all those injuries, Warriors coach Steve Kerr trotted out his ninth starting lineup of the season Friday, with two-way guard Ky Bowman at the point. For a moment, it worked.

Midway through the third quarter, Bowman intercepted a pass, ran cross court and dunked over Grant Williams, cutting the Celtics' lead to three. Two minutes later, Alec Burk stripped Boston guard Brandon Wanamaker, setting up a fast-break layup that gave Golden State a brief 82-80 lead before the Celtics rallied and held on in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors' current reality is much different than their immediate past. After winning 78 percent of their games over five years, they now find themselves with a roster that lost Kevin Durant to free agency, while Curry and Klay Thompson's rehabs are expected to last until at least February. Their 2-11 record is the NBA's worst.

[RELATED: How die-hard Warriors fans can stay optimistic]

Minutes after the final buzzer Friday, there were reminders of potential hopes lost. Curry's hand swelled out of his cast as he walked near a team official. In the locker room, Paschall sported an ice pack on his right hand, and Poole reconciled an ankle injury that he said wouldn't affect him.

As the Warriors packed for another road trip, potentially with just eight healthy bodies for the foreseeable future, another reminder that the team's development is coming at a hefty price was evident.

Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain

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USATSI

Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain

Add another one to the list.

After leaving Friday night’s loss to the Celtics with a thumb injury, an MRI has confirmed a right thumb sprain for All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell.

Russell will not travel with the team on the upcoming four-game road trip and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Golden State’s already lengthy injury report adds another name, as the team now stands with just nine healthy players as the team embarks for New Orleans on Saturday to kick off the trip.