Warriors

Lakers need more than Anthony Davis to unseat Warriors as West's best

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AP

Lakers need more than Anthony Davis to unseat Warriors as West's best

The Lakers appear, at first glance, to have achieved their goal of marrying two cornerstones to form a powerhouse. Presenting LeBron James with Anthony Davis means they can start printing tickets to the 2020 NBA Finals.

Suddenly, Lakers fans are dancing on LA freeways, confident after the events of Saturday that their team is destined to end at five the Warriors’ streak of consecutive Finals appearances.

Actually, probably not.

Oh, the Warriors will have to be both magical and lucky — which is conceivable, considering their lack of either over the past couple months — to make it six in a row. Their hurdles are higher than ever, and they know it. Some team will to be good enough to unseat them at the top of the Western Conference and maybe bump them out of the playoffs.

Don’t expect that team to be the Lakers. Before handing them 60 wins and a skate to the conference finals, much less a Larry O’Brien Trophy, consider the magic and luck they are going to need.

Wading past the surface layer and taking a closer look at the Lakers uncovers enough conditions and complications to prevent the raging success visualized by general manager Rob Pelinka upon trading one-third of the team’s current rotation and a considerable portion of its future to New Orleans to add Davis. The Lakers lost Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, as well as three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall in next week’s draft.

While the Pelicans will have quality young players for the future, the Lakers’ moves are being dictated by the LeBron timetable.

LeBron turns 35 in December. He leads all active NBA players — including 41-year-old Vince Carter — in career minutes. He missed a career-high 27 games last season, some for “rest,” most due to injuries, particularly a groin strain. He’s not getting better. He’s getting older.

The Lakers will be lucky to get 70 games from James next season, and it will require a measure of magic for LeBron to muster the kind of postseason that meets his standard.

As great as Davis is, and there is no denying that, the one knock on him has been his uncanny ability to get injured. He missed 26 games last season, some due to injuries and some because the Pelicans insisted.

Davis, 26, has played seven seasons, missing at least 14 games in all but two. His career high for games played is 75, achieved in back-to-back seasons (2016-17, 2017-18). He has missed an average of 15.4 games per season. He’ll need luck to stay healthy in 2019-20.

To summarize, the Lakers are building around the oldest wheels in the NBA and the league’s most injury-prone superstar.

LeBron’s championship window is starting to close, and Davis alone is not enough to keep it from shrinking.

Unless the Lakers add a Kyrie Irving or a Kemba Walker — both free agents are rumored to be targets for LA — along with a couple shooters, the best they can expect is to be marginally better than they were before LeBron sustained his season-ending injury last December. They were in fourth place in the Western Conference.

Walker is both fabulous and durable. The 29-year-old point guard also has stated a desire to remain in Charlotte, even at a discount.

Irving dazzles more frequently than Walker but also spends more time out of the lineup. Only once in his eight-year career has he missed fewer than 10 games. He missed 15 last season, 22 the year before.

Both Walker and Irving command massive contracts, and the Lakers have a max slot available.

[RELATED: Teams coming for Warriors' crown]

Other names are being floated, most notably Jimmy Butler, but whomever decides to sign with the Lakers will do so knowing LeBron’s best days are behind him, Davis will spend plenty of time on the sideline and the Lakers are beset with ownership/management problems.

So, let’s not crown them yet. If the Lakers bring in three more quality players, they might have time to compete for a championship. They’d better hurry.

Warriors GM Bob Myers speaks on Golden State's summer of change

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USA Today

Warriors GM Bob Myers speaks on Golden State's summer of change

OAKLAND - On most days over the last three seasons, Warriors general manager Bob Myers could look over to the basket along the north side of Rakuten Performance Center with a familiar sight: a sweat-drenched Kevin Durant launching a myriad of post-practice jumpers. 

As Myers sat feet away from Durant's basket Monday afternoon, the forward's presence and the championship security blanket it that came with it are now in Brooklyn, marking the dawn of change in Golden State. 

"There's an excitement, there's an awareness that it's not going to be easy," Myers said. "It's going to be different. But change was coming at some point. You never know when, you never know how but its always coming." 

Golden State's summer of change started two weeks ago, acquiring D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade shortly after Durant had announced his intention to join Brooklyn. To make the deal work, the Warriors had to part with Andre Iguodala's $17 million salary, trading the veteran to Memphis. After picking Jordan Poole, Eric Paschal and Alen Smailagic and the addition of Willie Cauley Stein, Glenn Robinson and Alec Burks, the Warriors will enter the season with eight new players on the roster. 

The Warriors' transition coincides with an arms race in the Western Conference. A week before Durant's decision, the Los Angeles Lakers traded for star big man Anthony Davis, pairing the all-star with three-time champion LeBron James. Weeks later, Kawhi Leonard - who helped the Toronto Raptors beat the Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals - signed with the LA Clippers in free agency, forcing a trade for all-star Paul George. 

The summer comes at a particular time of peril for the Warriors. While the team enters next season with three all-stars on the roster, Golden State will be without Klay Thompson - who tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals - until midway through the season. Still, Myers believes the team can contend. 

"Yeah, the west keeps getting better and better," Myers said. "Can we compete? Yeah, I think we have a group that's shown at least at its core - Whenever Klay comes back, with Draymond and Steph - that's a group that's shown they can win."

Golden State's roster transition is prioritizing development over winning. Last season, during the Warriors quest for a third straight title, rust, complacency and injuries led to curious regular-season losses. With a new roster, including three rookies, Myers believes more focus will be on building a winner instead of maintaining one. 

"It will be different," Myers said. "Not that the regular season didn't matter before, it did, but it takes on a new meaning. I think for our fans - even myself - you walk into an arena I think everything takes on a heightened meaning, which is fun."

"All of this is coming at the right time," Myers added. "For Steve, it will be a lot of teaching. Before he had guys that operated in a system. It will be teaching and I think he'll embrace that too. A lot of learning, a lot of youth. We're going to have more highs and lows as far as winning and losing than we've had before."

The site of Myers' summer media availability is perhaps the biggest change the organization is undergoing. In the coming months, team staffers will move across the San Francisco Bay to the Chase Center. Gone will be Myers' vantage point of Durant and the comfort of watching a penciled in champion, giving way with the unknown timeline of change ahead of the franchise. 

"It's a new dawn for us," Myers said. "But it's okay. We haven't been in this position for five years. It's going to be fun and it doesn't mean it's going to be easy because there is a learning curve to their NBA experience."

Ex-Warriors center Ognjen Kuzmic reportedly in coma after car accident

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AP

Ex-Warriors center Ognjen Kuzmic reportedly in coma after car accident

Former Warriors big man Ognjen Kuzmic reportedly got into a serious car accident on Sunday morning and remains in a coma.

As Eurohoops.net wrote on Monday:

The good news is that following the first 24 hours from the car crash in which Kuzmic got injured the first signs are “encouraging.”

Kuzmic’s condition was reviewed in detail by the medical team Monday (15/7) morning. An x-ray scan on Kuzmic’s head showed that there aren’t any additional complications in the head injuries the player sustained in the accident. His lung function has also been gradually restored.

Golden State selected Kuzmic with the No. 52 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

He appeared in 37 games with the Dubs over two seasons and was a member of the 2015 championship team.

Klay Thompson took to Instagram on Monday afternoon:

Kuzmic turned 29 years old in May.