Warriors

Miles above the pack, Warriors not bothered by Wade-to-Cavs, other moves

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USATSI

Miles above the pack, Warriors not bothered by Wade-to-Cavs, other moves

OAKLAND -- Though the Warriors tread carefully when discussing the white-hot activity throughout much of the NBA this offseason they still are keenly aware of who has moved, to where, and, moreover, why.

That’s because as defending champs that have posted the best record three years running, they have a very good view. They’re alone atop the mountain, looking down on a league scrambling about the foothills in hopes of climbing higher.

“They’re loading up,” David West said the other day as one of the few Warriors willing to go beyond the party line: we’re focusing on us.

That was before Dwyane Wade maneuvered his way out of Chicago to become a free agent so he could to join forces with his dude LeBron James in Cleveland. That move is, from where the Warriors sit, barely enough to raise their eyebrows.

Wade-to-the-Cavs is not a surprise; indeed, the minute Wade was granted his wish to be bought out by the Bulls, it was widely presumed he’d make his way 350 miles east to join LeBron. As NBA stars muscle up to dictate their movement, with James being the pioneer of this new age, a Wade-James partnership was inevitable. Even the Warriors, who were curious about Wade’s availability, knew as much.

Yet the new Cavs pose no more of a threat to the Warriors than what they’ll have to confront within the treacherous Western Conference.

No more than the new Thunder, who added Carmelo Anthony to a nucleus of Paul George -- acquired from Indiana in July -- and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.

No more than the new Rockets, who in June traded for future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul to play alongside perennial All-Star James Harden.

No more than the new Timberwolves, who added All-Star guards Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, along with respected vets Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford, to a roster already rich with tantalizing youngsters Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

No more than Spurs, who always find their way to a top-four seed because coach Gregg Popovich is the best in the league.

And certainly no more than the Celtics, who after posting the best record in the Eastern Conference lost sparkplug Isaiah Thomas but added All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, as well as veteran forward Marcus Morris.

Meanwhile, the Warriors brought back 12 players, including their top five free agents, to ensure their top eight players from a year ago -- in terms of minutes played -- would begin the quest for back-to-back championships.

“As you can see, the landscape of the league, it changes fast,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. “No one could have predicted a lot of things that have transpired.

“But for us, thankfully, we've got our core back and hopefully added some guys that can help us.”

The primary additions, shooting guard Nick Young, forward Omri Casspi and rookie forward Jordan Bell, project as upgrades over the three players -- Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo and Anderson Varejao -- on the opening-night roster last season but have since departed.

Having retooled while so many others rebuilt, the Warriors still believe anything that might stop them, injury aside, would have to come from their own locker room.

Las Vegas agrees, placing the over-under for the Warriors at 67.5, a full 13 games ahead of the field. The Cavs and Rockets are at 54.5, while the Spurs and Celtics at 53.5. The only other team set above 50 is the Thunder, at 52.5.

If the Warriors are improved, as they believe they will be, the rest of the league merely is planning and plotting to see who finishes second and beyond.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, looking around the NBA, noted the Cavs-Celtics trade for being the rare deal between rivals, Paul-to-the-Rockets for being seismic and “interesting,” and how Rudy Gay gives the Spurs a different look.

“Those are the ones that jump out,” Kerr said. “Beyond that, I'm mostly worried about our team and concerned with what we're doing.”

Which is watching, from afar, the front-office calisthenics of the competition.

“Those teams are amazing teams that will have great seasons I'm sure,” Kevin Durant said. “But it's tough enough to worry about yourself than worry about someone else. So I would just rather focus on us.”

That’s the luxury of being miles above, if not light years ahead.

Steph Curry sheds light on Game 1 trash talk with LeBron James, promises there are 'adversarial relationships' in NBA

Steph Curry sheds light on Game 1 trash talk with LeBron James, promises there are 'adversarial relationships' in NBA

Do you remember what happened with about 35 seconds left in OT during Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals?

In case you forgot:

The Warriors led by 11 points and with the shot clock winding down, Steph Curry attempted a driving layup and LeBron James blocked it.

LeBron proceeded to talk some trash to Curry and even used a little forearm to nudge him away when Curry said something in return.

On the most recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Curry shed some light on the exchange.

Simmons: "He blocked you and he talked sh*t to you. I thought you guys were gonna fight."

Curry: "It was never going to spill over to that. But it was an interesting moment ... I was hot because I was trying to finish out a possession, I think it was less than a minute left, I didn't see him coming over from the weak side so I tried to do a little soft scoop layup and he pinned it. Then he stared me down and he said something to me.

"And I was like, 'That's what we're really on right now? We're about to win and you're worried about mean-blocking my shot and talking trash?' And then the whole Tristan and Draymond thing happened and I went back up to him and I was like, 'Yo, what's up? Is this really what we're about right now?'

"And he was like, 'I gotta do that to make sure my teammates know I'm a mentor' and it's a part of his leadership and that type of deal. And I was like, 'I don't want to be the sacrificial lamb for your leadership.' (laughter). Come on man, that's messed up."

Simmons: "I want more of it. I don't want you guys to like each other. This is my biggest problem with this decade. I like that I'm not positive you and LeBron like each other (Curry starts laughing). Watching from afar, it doesn't seem like you like each other. I'm sure there's a mutual respect."

Curry: "There's definitely a mutual respect. I would say though when you see guys working out with each other in the summers and you see guys playing pickup and all that -- when you step foot on the court during the season, it's a totally different environment.

"Guys can be buddies and friends and whatnot and have whatever type of relationship they want to have in the summer and off the court, but the rivalry and competition and egos and all that stuff that lives in an NBA game and when you're trying to hold that trophy ... it's really there and it's not going anywhere."

Simmons: "I don't want you guys to get along. I want adverserial relationships."

Curry: "They're there. They're there. I promise you."

Good. That is awesome.

A couple other takeaways from the podcast:

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Steph Curry unveils story behind why the Wolves didn't draft him: 'I hope it's true because that's hilarious'

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AP

Steph Curry unveils story behind why the Wolves didn't draft him: 'I hope it's true because that's hilarious'

With the fifth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select... Ricky Rubio.

With the sixth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select... Jonny Flynn.

With the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select... Stephen Curry.

And the rest is history.

As you all know, the man in charge of those selections -- David Kahn -- was fired in 2013 and no longer works in the NBA.

"My guy David Kahn. I don't know where he's at right now," Curry said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. "I don't know if that ever came out -- there's a story. Everybody knows how much I love golf -- play it in my spare time and what not.

"I think the word on the street was that he didn't draft me because in Minnesota it's cold and I wouldn't be able to play as much golf so I would have been miserable."

A shocked Simmons asked Curry: "Is that true?"

"I hope it's true because that's hilarious (laughter)," Curry said. "That's hilarious."

To which Simmons responded: "It was idiotic in the moment. I did a draft diary. I was going nuts. Because if you're gonna take two point guards, how are you not one of the two? And then if you're gonna go all-in on Rubio and you don't even know if he's gonna come over..."

Rubio didn't leave Spain for the NBA until the 2011-12 season, and a hip injury unfortunately ended Flynn's career after just two plus seasons.

There's no way we will ever find out if that golf story is true, but just like Steph... we certainly hope it is.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller