LeBron James won't make his second regular-season visit to Chase Center this campaign.
The Los Angeles Lakers star has a sore groin and won't play against the Warriors on Thursday.
James, 35, missed 17 games with a left groin strain last season. He first picked up the injury in a Christmas Day loss to the Warriors in 2018, in what ended up being his last trip to Oracle Arena. He scored 22 points, dished out 11 assists and grabbed eight rebounds on Feb. 8 in the Lakers' first regular-season game against the Warriors in San Francisco this season, leading Los Angeles to a 125-120 win.
He and the Cleveland Cavaliers played against the Warriors in four straight NBA Finals from 2015 through 2018, losing three out of four times but upsetting the 73-win Golden State squad in a seven-game series win in 2016. James and two-time MVP Steph Curry were the faces of the one-sided Warriors-Cavs rivalry, but the two haven't faced each other this season.
Curry has missed all but four games since breaking his hand on Oct. 30, and he wouldn't have played against the Lakers on Thursday anyway. The Warriors guard is targeting a March 1 return, but Golden State coach Steve Kerr cast doubt on that possibility Wednesday. Kerr told reporters he thinks Curry "needs some more scrimmage time."
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James and Curry were supposed to lead the Lakers and Warriors into a fierce Pacific Division rivalry, but that hasn't happened since James signed in Los Angeles two summers ago. The Lakers missed the playoffs last season and the Warriors are set to do the same this year. Curry and James should, at least, play against each other when Golden State heads to LA on April 7.
If they don't, the 2019-20 season would be the first since 2008-09 that James and Curry didn't play against each other at least once in the regular season. Curry was completing his last collegiate season at Davidson then.
Marreese Speights didn’t have an extended tenure with the Warriors, but it was full of exciting moments.
The reliable stretch four was a valuable reserve in Golden State, including being part of the 2015 NBA championship team. Since leaving the Bay Area after the 2015-16 season, Speights has played for two other NBA teams and spent a few seasons playing in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak putting a hold on American sports, Speights was slated to join the BIG3 via one of the league’s new expansion franchises.
“I just think it’s a platform for me to play basketball,” Speights said on a special, virtual edition of “Warriors Outsiders" last week. “I did a lot of things in the NBA, I won a championship, that’s the most important goal.
“So for me, being back to playing basketball is just gonna be fun.”
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The roar Speights would get if he took the floor at Chase Center sometime in the future would be incredible.
The league was scheduled to get underway in June, although it remains to be seen when many American sports will be able to pick things back up after this extended hiatus.
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.
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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