Warriors

Oakland's Damian Lillard sounds off on Warriors' move to Chase Center

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AP

Oakland's Damian Lillard sounds off on Warriors' move to Chase Center

SAN FRANCISCO -- Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard told reporters all you need to know about him seven hours before his latest matchup against the Warriors.  

"I'm from Oakland," Lillard said Monday afternoon.

However, everything Lillard knew about his former hometown team no longer exists.

In the last four months, the Warriors moved from Oakland Arena -- minutes from his native Brookfield Village in East Oakland -- across the Bay Bridge, down along the clustered shores of San Francisco's Mission Bay at Chase Center, becoming the latest team to leave Oakland for an expensive alternative. It's a fact Lillard is still reconciling. 

"We're opposites," Lillard admitted. "All I'm gonna know is I'm not down the street from the house no more." 

Lillard's latest stop to the Bay Area comes as the Warriors are in transition, looking much different than the squad that swept his Blazers in the Western Conference Finals five months ago.

Since June, Golden State has lost Kevin Durant to free agency, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry to long-term injuries, replacing them with an unproven crop of young players more expected to compete for lottery position than a playoff berth next spring. 

"It's just so unexpected," Lillard said. "You don't expect them to go from such a huge deal and a big super team to one guy leaves to injuries. Unfortunate situations and stuff that you hate to see. I think in that way it's just different to see them not as the Warriors right now."

As the Warriors find themselves in a state of change, so does the Oakland sports landscape. In the last decade, the Raiders, Warriors and even the A's have flirted with the thought of leaving.

While the A's seemingly have committed to Oakland after failed attempts to move to the South Bay, the Raiders will call Las Vegas home by the New Year and the Warriors -- under new ownership -- quickly made plans to move across the water in 2012. 

"There's a sense of pride in Oakland about everything that represents us and it's like the Warriors go over the bridge," Lillard said. "Raiders going to Vegas, it's almost like the money grab, the money moves is pushing the real love and what's really behind this organization to the side, which is understandable and also not understandable because I'm from Oakland." 

For much of their California existence, the Warriors have played the role of lovable losers with a loyal following. Despite making the postseason just once from 1995 until 2007, the Warriors were known to have one of the loudest environments in basketball at Oakland Arena.

Lillard knows East Bay fandom all too well. He was in the building when Warriors guard Baron Davis dunked over Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko in the second round of the 2007 NBA playoffs -- providing a signature moment for the "We Believe" team. 

These days, Lillard -- despite being 600 miles north in Oregon -- is disappointed in the environment of Golden State's new $2 billion digs. 

"Where's the pride?" Lillard rhetorically asked. "The Raiders, they went 12-4 a few years back and been struggling, struggled like ten years before that and it was still -- the Black Hole is still there -- you still see the Nation in support. Why would you leave that behind? 

"It just rubbed me wrong. I've watched games here and the crowd is just not the same. People leaving games early." 

[RELATED: Warriors select Scottie Lewis at No. 10 in NBA mock draft]

Now Lillard will lead is Blazers into a new reality in his first game in San Francisco. The Blazers are overwhelming favorites to beat the defending Western Conference champs.

Win or lose, Lillard's sentiments on the Warriors' new home are unlikely to change by the end of the night. 

"I don't like it," he said. "If that's what y'all want to know. I don't like it."

Why Warriors' next 10 games offer chance to encourage somber fan base

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USATSI

Why Warriors' next 10 games offer chance to encourage somber fan base

If any stretch of the season is ideal for the Warriors to toss their starving fans four or five crumbs, it is the next 10 games, beginning Monday night against the Grizzlies.

Reason No. 1: The Warriors are about as healthy as they’re going to be for at least the next three months. They could suit up 12 players against Memphis.

Reason No. 2: They’re at home for eight of the next 10 games, and the only back-to-back set comes on the last weekend of December.

Reason No. 3: They’re staring directly at the best opportunity they’ll have this season to string together three consecutive victories.

Reason No. 4: The trade market swings wide open on Dec. 15, and productive players are vastly more attractive to teams seeking someone able to help in the second half of the season and, possibly, the playoffs.

And it doesn’t hurt that from a realistic and long-range viewpoint, a solidly competitive three weeks could build good habits without sacrificing the likelihood of finishing with a record that would assure a premium lottery pick. There will be plenty of games marked with an “L.”

Let’s take a game-by-game look at the next 10:

Monday night: Grizzlies at home

Under Steve Kerr, the Warriors once went 145 games without back-to-back losses. With Grizzlies' team engine Ja Morant coping with a balky back – he has missed the last four games – this is an excellent chance put some life in Chase Center with their first consecutive wins this season.

Win probability: Very high.

Wednesday night: Knicks at home

It’s the Knicks, on their first swing through Western Conference, on the second night of a back-to-back set. Enough said.

Win probability: Very high.

Friday night: Jazz away

Even with the tremendous Warriors teams of recent seasons, playing at altitude on the road was never a walk. Mike Conley’s hamstring is barking, but Emmanuel Mudiay is playing well.

Win probability: Very low.

Dec. 15: Kings at home

The first meeting this season between Kerr and former assistant Luke Walton, and also the first reunion of former Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein and his former teammates. One question: Can Cauley-Stein bring intensity? Another question: Who can guard Sacramento gunslinger Buddy Hield?

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 18: Trail Blazers away

Tough place to win with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Tougher to win without them. The Dame-CJ-Melo trio poses problems for a Warriors defense than can be exploited. This game will need the best of Draymond Green at both ends, and some loud offense from Eric Paschall.

Win probability: Low.

Dec. 20: Pelicans at home

Will Zion be back? It doesn’t look likely. Has anybody seen Derrick Favors? New Orleans is a mess right now, and a turnaround in the next couple weeks seems unlikely.

Win probability: High.

Dec. 23: Timberwolves at home

Minny is one of only four teams to beat the Warriors at least once in each of the last four seasons, and those Warriors were four levels better than this year's squad. Coach Ryan Saunders seems to have unlocked the secret to Andrew Wiggins’ potential. But this is the second of three straight games in the Pacific time zone.

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 25: Rockets at home

The simple game plan is to keep James Harden off the free-throw line and force Russell Westbrook to launch jump shots. If either fails to find a rhythm – and there’s a decent chance of that – the Warriors can pull off the upset.

Win probability: Low.

[RELATED: Warriors reportedly "not pushing" to trade D-Lo right now]

Dec. 27: Suns at home

The Suns are dealing with the growing pains that come with a new coach determined to change the culture. They’re quite good some nights, quite unsightly on others. But they have two players, Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr., that are capable of causing problems. Big man Deandre Ayton will back by then and will have had a couple weeks of conditioning.

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 28: Mavericks at home

It was widely believed the Mavericks might be good enough find a low seed to the playoffs, but Luka is trying to take them even higher. It’s Luka Time, and the Warriors – on Night No. 2 of a back-to-back – must be at their best to avoid being another canvas for this kid’s wizardry.

Win probability: Low.

NBA rumors: Warriors 'not pushing' to trade guard D'Angelo Russell now

NBA rumors: Warriors 'not pushing' to trade guard D'Angelo Russell now

When the Warriors acquired D'Angelo Russell as part of Kevin Durant's sign-and-trade with the Nets this past offseason and signed the star point guard to a four-year, $117 million contract, it seemed like a bit of an odd fit.

How would Russell fit with fellow point guard Steph Curry? What about when shooting guard Klay Thompson became healthy? More than anything, it looked like Golden State added a great trade asset. 

But the Warriors reportedly are in no rush to trade D-Lo. 

“If it is something that they’re going to do quickly, like before the end of this month, I wouldn’t say they’re pushing for it,” one NBA general manager recently said to Heavy.com's Sean Deveney. “Maybe they have a deal in mind, maybe they’re sitting on something and laying low. But I’d be surprised.

"That’s not how they’d approach it, I’d think. You want to create a market if you are going to trade a player like him, you want to pit teams against each other, drive up the price. You don’t want to lock into one deal. But the market thing, that’s not really happening yet. They’re not pushing the market for him.”

If the Warriors do indeed have a trade in mind, they soon can start taking calls. The NBA's collective bargaining agreement prohibits the Dubs from parting ways with Russell until Dec. 15. 

Since acquiring the All-Star, general manager Bob Myers has made it clear the Warriors aren't trying to get rid of Russell. 

"We didn't sign him with the intention of just trading him," Myers said to reporters on July 15. 

Russell has been a bright spot on the 5-19 Warriors when healthy. He has been limited to only 12 games while dealing with a sprained right thumb, but has averaged a career-high 22.3 points, 6.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. 

[RELATED: Why R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball might interest Warriors]

The Warriors truly won't be able to evaluate the 23-year-old's future with the team until he has played more with Curry and the rest of the injured Dubs.

Golden State has until the Feb. 7 trade deadline to move Russell, but as of now, that doesn't seem to be at the top of the team's priority list.