Warriors

NBA rumors: Kevin Durant to Knicks has 'never felt more real' to Warriors

NBA rumors: Kevin Durant to Knicks has 'never felt more real' to Warriors

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. P.T., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Warriors fans aren't going to like this, but it's hard to hide from the latest information surrounding Kevin Durant's impending free agency. 

As Marc Stein of The New York Times writes:

The threat of the Knicks persuading Durant to leave one of the most dominant teams in league history has never felt more real to the Warriors themselves.

This appears to be a new development because, in late October, Anthony Slater of The Athletic wrote:

The Warriors in zero way fear the Knicks in these sweepstakes. Durant may decide to go to New York in July. They know that. The buzz is legitimate. The connections are there. His business manager, Rich Kleiman, is a New York-based Knicks fan with dreams of working in their front office one day. Royal Ivey, perhaps Durant’s best friend, is on David Fizdale’s coaching staff.

But in all aspects of basketball success and organizational management, the areas in which the Warriors can control, they are superior.

But unfortunately for the Warriors, Durant's decision is completely out of their control. While Golden State can offer him the most money, dollars might not be a top priority for the reigning two-time NBA Finals MVP, who left about $15 million on the table the last two summers.

It's safe to assume the threat "has never felt more real" to the Warriors because of last week's Kristaps Porzingis trade that opened the necessary salary-cap space for the Knicks to sign two max-level free agents in July.

Additionally, an NBA executive told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report that he believes "the Knicks have already been told Durant is coming."

The reality is that speculation will continue for the next five months, and there will be some twists and turns. As the Warriors look to three-peat, hopefully their fans can just enjoy the ride.

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

Why Gary Payton believes Warriors' Steph Curry isn't true point guard

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Why Gary Payton believes Warriors' Steph Curry isn't true point guard

You might think of Steph Curry as a point guard.

After all, he's short, brings the ball up the court sometimes and appears on the far left of those nifty starting lineup graphics prior to tip-off with PG next to his name.

But in this age of run-and-gun positionless basketball, is Curry really a point guard? Not if you ask Gary Payton.

In fact, the nine-time NBA All-Star believes there only are two true point guards left in The Association.

"That's a question that is kind of difficult for old people," Payton told NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock and Kerith Burke on the "Runnin' Plays Podcast" when asked about the best point guards in today's game. "You look at Stephen Curry. You put him as a point guard. He's not a point guard. He's a two-guard. You look at [Russell] Westbrook. He's not a point guard. He's a two-guard. You look at James Harden. He's not a point guard, he's a two-guard.

"To me, there are only two guards in this league that are true point guards. That's [Rajon] Rondo and Chris Paul. 

"Now, Chris Paul has turned into a shooting guard more, but Rondo is a true point guard," Payton continued. "He looks first to get people off. He does his defense and he makes people better around him. Not, let me score 30. Not, let me shoot a jump shot first. He's not doing that ... If we name a lot of point guards that's right now in this NBA, they are not point guards."

At least Harden can finally be in the same category as Steph, right?

[RELATED: Loss to Knicks shows Warriors have earned NBA's worst record]

While Steph might not be the prototypical point guard in the old-fashioned sense, there's no doubt he'll one day be enshrined in Springfield, Mass., as one of the greatest scoring guards in NBA history.

In any era, that's pretty, pretty good.

What Warriors' long-term forecast is for Alec Burks, young centers

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What Warriors' long-term forecast is for Alec Burks, young centers

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The Warriors' ugly season hit its lowest point yet with the loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

The team owns the worst record in the NBA, and despite getting healthier and returning some key veterans, they seem to be regressing and stalling in their development. This has been nothing short of a nightmare season for the franchise, but with a very bright light at the end of the tunnel with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson rehabbing for next season, the panic and fears of the fanbase have been rather subdued.

Trades and draft picks have been the focus for most discussions surrounding the team, distracting many from the immensely unsuccessful season. At the moment, all eyes look toward the future for the Warriors, so here are notes checking in on some players and their long term forecast.

In his career, Alec Burks owns a 42.3 percent overall mark from the field. This season, inconsistency has plagued Burks as he has had games in which he has played very well, followed by a highly inefficient night.

Some examples of these nights include a three for 17 performance against the Thunder, three for 11 at Dallas and two for 13 at New Orleans. It has been widely speculated that the Warriors will attempt to trade Burks at some point this season, in order to potentially receive a modest return from a contending team in need of a prolific bench scorer.

But to actually receive something back of note, Burks would have to step up and become more consistent, which he has done.

Over the last four games, Burks is 22 for 40 from the field, raising his season shooting percentage from 39.8 percent to 42 percent. His shot selection has improved as he has started to limit the amount of reckless, overly aggressive drives to the hoop. If he can continue this trend of efficient scoring nights, his value to the Warriors and potentially to other teams, will skyrocket.

Willie Cauley-Stein recorded his third game this season, of 23 games played, in which he blocked three shots. Last season, Cauley-Stein accumulated only five such games of 81 games played. It has been a rough season so far for the big man, as he missed all of training camp and the beginning of the season due to injury, and has had to learn a new system and how to play with a new team while trying to shake off the rust and regain his conditioning. Recently there have been signs of him shaping into form, which has been an encouraging sight for the coaching staff.

However, every game there are moments where Cauley-Stein seems to float around defensively and seem a bit lost. On the bright side though, his rim protection has been better than advertised so far. In his four seasons with the Kings, Cauley-Stein owned a rate of 1.2 blocks per 36 minutes played. This season, he has almost doubled that number, averaging 2.1 per 36.

The Warriors are hoping to see the seven-footer continue to find his groove, as Cauley-Stein has a player option for next season and may possibly stick around (barring a trade). 

Speaking of centers, Marquese Chriss and Omari Spellman have continued to impress. Chriss was one of the lone bright spots from the loss to the New York Knicks, collecting six offensive rebounds and blocking three shots in just 24 minutes of action. His overall play from the center spot has improved tremendously as the season has gone along, and it is almost a foregone conclusion at this point that his contract is guaranteed for the rest of the season when the time comes.

This is Chriss's fourth season in the NBA, and yet he only turned 22 years of age in July. Spellman meanwhile also turned 22 in July and has become a valuable rotation piece as his conditioning has improved.

[RELATED: D-Lo explains worst part of Warriors current situation]

The big man is shooting just under 37 percent from deep, and collecting about 11 rebounds per 36 minutes of action. He already had his option picked up for next season, so the Warriors see the value in his development.

Looking ahead, the team may have a plethora of very young centers with immense potential moving forward when you add 23-year-old Kevon Looney and 19-year-old Alen Smailagic to the mix to go along with Chriss and Spellman.