Warriors

Seventeen narratives to tide you over until Game 1 of the NBA Finals

Seventeen narratives to tide you over until Game 1 of the NBA Finals

It’s time once again to play, “Narrate That Narrative,” with your increasingly weary hosts, the Golden State Warriors.
 
And we say increasingly weary because, in playing 12 games (slightly less than 29 hours of elapsed time) in 46 days (slightly more than 1,100 hours of real time), the Warriors have spent far more time engaging, rejecting, advancing and goofing with narratives than they have with actual ball-related duties.
 
You know, the idiotic side stories with a two-day shelf life until someone serves up a new narrative, because after all, sports are really just delivery systems for disposable tales of no enduring value and very little transitory value. I’ve known cheeses left too near a heater than maintained their integrity longer.
 
But with another nine days (eight now, in case your narrative happens to be mindless timekeeping) before Game One of the NBA Finals, all we have is narratives. And yes, for that we can very definitely blame the Warriors, for without their refusal to mix in a devastating loss that really isn’t, we’ve had atomic clocks of time on our hands.
 
So muscle up, kids. This is your future until tipoff.
 
LEGACIES: This is without question the stupidest of them all, because trying to figure out an active athlete’s legacy is one of the most pointless things you can do with yourself. The Warriors will either be a budding dynasty or a one-hit-wonder-in-the-making. They will not be the best team of all time (the 1960s Celtics have that locked away), nor will they be the new Buffalo Bills (who unlike the Warriors tried many times and never won). They will be a team still fashioning their legacies, which as it turns out won’t actually be written accurately for decades.
 
In other words, remember O.J. Simpson’s legacy when he stopped playing football, and think of it now.
 
STEVE KERR: His spinal cord has a worse reputation than Stephen Curry’s ankles, and at this point it seems awfully likely that he will be an interested spectator with an all-access credential for the Finals. Thus, he remains the second best coach in NBA history in winning percentage (.848 if you include playoffs), behind only Not Steve Kerr (92.4).
 
KEVIN DURANT’S DECISION: It was a good one. He’s happy. He’s winning games. He’s wired into the Bay Area business community. Russell Westbrook is a year ago and Oklahoma City is a million miles away. Nothing new here, as there hasn’t been since the last time they played nine weeks ago. This story was old in August, and has been dead since January. Stop.
 
LEBRON JAMES: Is he Michael Jordan? Is he better than Michael Jordan? Does he like to troll people? Is he smug? Is he justifiably proud? All fascinating subjects if you just like making stuff up in your head based on your very limited ability to see inside the souls of others. But hey, you paid your fees just like everyone else. Psychoanalyze away.
 
ZAZA PACHULIA AND BRUCE BOCHY: He has become bigger than Andrew Bogut in Warrior lore because of his ill-placed foot in Game One of the Western Conference Final, and because his head was deemed far too large in Monday’s postgame celebration to accommodate a hat. Now you see how these two are linked?
 
JAVALE MCGEE: More fun than Zaza Pachulia, though dealing with Tristan Thompson will probably mean that his fun will be significantly truncated.
 
ANDRE IGUODALA’S KNEE: That’s not a narrative, that’s an injury report.
 
ANDRE IGUODALA’S DEFENSIVE ASSIGNMENT: See above. If the knee is sound, it will be LeBron James. If not, Draymond Green, David West and whatever else will work.
 
DRAYMOND GREEN’S TEMPER: 21 technical fouls, a flailing foot and a hideously timed suspension a year ago, 16 this year, no suspensions. Plus, only two technicals this postseason. His history remains his history, and he has been both targeted and given some slack depending on the official (he damned near chased Scott Foster down the floor one night this year and Foster patiently eased him off the ledge). He has been a voluble and expressive model citizen as these things go.
 
KLAY THOMPSON: Poor shooting in the San Antonio series has condemned him despite his offensive and defensive ratings both being up from a year ago. It’s a talker if shooting is your deal, but he won’t play any fewer minutes in this series than any of the other 11. His “struggles” are a mild amusement for those who still think trying to force drama on these guys is a useful exercise.
 
STEPHEN CURRY: I give up. Is there anything new to say about him?
 
JOE LACOB GIVING AN INTERVIEW TO THE FINANCIAL TIMES: Quick, everyone head for the shelters.

SCOTT FOSTER: Last year's officiating bete noire, now not even worth a mention. If you need something, the Warriors are 20-0 with Ron Garretson and 17-4 with Ed Malloy in the last three years. Just keep it to yourselves.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: Right now, the Warriors could become the first team to win all 16 postseason games, but even if they don’t, they can still go 16-3, tie the record currently held by the 2005 San Antonios and still have a parade. They did good – as long as they win. If they don’t win, the hell they will pay will be at full retail prices with the usual jewelers’ markup.
 
PLAYOFF BOREDOM: If Cleveland wins, this is the series you all demanded. If Boston wins, you get a surprise. But neither will make us happy because the playoffs weren’t sufficiently entertaining for us. That’s how we do our cultural life now – we reflexively turbo-bitch about something because it keeps us from getting diabetes, or some other excuse. As a result, we are the worst generation so far, and those who come behind us are very likely to be worse unless they can cure themselves soon.
 
LUCK: Yep, lucky again. No Yusuf Nurkic to allow Portland to play at its best. A limited Rudy Gobert to allow Utah to play at its best. No Tony Parker and only 28 minutes of Kawhi Leonard to allow San Antonio to be at its best. They were lucky two years ago as well, and the ring was just as big and the parade just as sunshiny. They weren’t as lucky a year ago (Stephen Curry’s wobbly legs, Draymond Green’s suspension, the auto-asphyxia of the last five minutes of Game Seven of the Finals).
 
In other words, it’s good to put yourself in a position to be lucky. Every champion ever, in every sport, on every continent, they’ve all been lucky. Luck is a compliment not wasted on second-round losers. Deal with it.
 
THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS: There has never been a champion that was universally beloved, with the possible exceptions of Leicester City when it won the Premier League last year, and maybe Secretariat. Every other one ever had critics based on style of play, level of success, arrogance, dismissiveness, bullying, plain geography or just, because . . . well, see “turbo-bitching.” It won’t be that hard. It was two paragraphs ago. Suck it up, scroll your screen and move your eyes.

The point is, one word of criticism from Charles Barkley is somehow louder than reams of glowing reviews. Warrior fans are like all the others in that they demand universal worship of their favorite team, and they hear “just a bunch of jump-shooters” no matter what Barkley actually says at any given moment.
 
See, they don’t have to like your team, and it affects nothing. Stop caring. 
 
There will be more, but these are the main ones that should tide you over until game time, whether it’s the series you want (Cleveland) or the series you never expected (Boston). We’re all very sorry if we couldn’t make it the New York Knicks, or LaVar Ball, just to name two narratives you won't have to deal with in the coming days. 

Pat McCaw, Warriors still waiting each other out before training camp

mccawfreakus.jpg
USATSI

Pat McCaw, Warriors still waiting each other out before training camp

Counting down the hours until training camp begins Tuesday, there is only one unresolved issue immediately facing the Warriors.

Guard Pat McCaw, a restricted free agent considered part of the team’s future, still has not accepted the $1.74 million qualifying offer the Warriors presented more than 12 weeks ago.

By extending the deal, the Warriors indicated they still want McCaw on the roster.

McCaw last season indicated a desire to return for a third season, something his father, Jeff, reiterated in an interview this week with the San Francisco Chronicle.

The lack of McCaw’s signature on a contract was not a concern in July or August. But with summer coming to a close, his absence leaves the Warriors wondering if he still wants to explore other options while also forcing them to prepare to do the same.

This is not what the Warriors wanted, nor is it what McCaw needs.

The biggest problem facing McCaw is that he was far less effective last season than he was a rookie. It was after his first season that veteran wing Andre Iguodala, speaking at the championship celebration in Oakland, identified McCaw as his potential replacement.

Was Iguodala joking? Yes. And no.

McCaw as a rookie showed smarts, instincts and a fearlessness that belied his 21 years. His shot was decent, with plenty of room to improve. His defense was solid, revealing an aptitude for reading angles and anticipating, an obvious asset for someone with such a rail-thin physique.

McCaw in Year 2 struggled with his shot. He finished at 28.3 percent from deep and 40.9 percent overall. His movements on the court became uncertain. And then, last March 31, he sustained a terrifying injury that sent him to the hospital by ambulance for an overnight stay and kept him on the sideline for nearly two months.

All those forces combined to depress McCaw’s market value and, therefore, punch a hole in thoughts of leverage.

Which makes the summer inactivity kind of puzzling. The Warriors have been patient, awaiting McCaw’s signature. McCaw has been waiting, presumably, for a team to come along offering something better, after which he would find out just how much the Warriors want him to come back.

That deal has not materialized. After experiencing a flurry of offer sheets and signings in July, the NBA quickly settled into a soft market by August. It has remained soft in September.

Nobody is shopping, and that won’t change unless someone, somewhere, gets hurt and a team suddenly needs a young wing with potential.

When the Warriors released their camp roster on Thursday, McCaw’s name was not on the list. It can’t be, because he is unsigned.

Which leaves two young wings thinking they have a shot to make the roster. Danuel House, a fabulous athlete, is coming on a non-guaranteed deal. Damion Lee, who snagged a two-way contract, also is on the list.

McCaw still has the edge, because his contract would be guaranteed. Unless or until he signs, however, that’s irrelevant.

Meanwhile, he waits. And so do the Warriors. The clock that was relatively quiet all summer is now ticking louder by the day.

Klay Thompson: Warriors training camp profile

Klay Thompson: Warriors training camp profile

The Bulls did it twice, with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading the way. The Lakers accomplished it once, behind Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. In the 42 seasons since the NBA-ABA merger, those are the only franchises to win three consecutive NBA Finals.

When the Warriors come together for training camp on Sept. 25, their goal is to become the third.

Here is a look at those players with guaranteed roster spots.

13TH IN A SERIES

Player: Klay Thompson
Position: Shooting guard
Height/weight: 6-7, 215
College: Washington State
Age: 28
Salary: $18.99M (final year of a four-year pact worth $68.98M one-year minimum deal, guaranteed, per Spotrac)
NBA 2K Player Rating: 89

2017-18 in review: For the first time in Thompson’s seven-year career, he played less than 90 percent of the schedule and his scoring average did not increase. What did improve was his shot selection. He attempted the fewest field goals since 2013-14 while posting career-high percentages. Though he was fairly consistent, Thompson managed to have sizzling quarters without delivering one of his trademark nuclear games. Considering his defense remained strong, he remains perhaps the top two-way SG.

Key stats: 73 games (73 starts), averaging 20.0 points (58.8 percent FG, 44.0 percent 3p, 83.7 percent FT), 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 34.3 minutes.

Season highs: Points (38), rebounds (10, twice), assists (six), minutes (42).

2018-19 outlook: Thompson’s scoring is wanted, his defense needed. The Warriors can do a better job of feeding him when he’s rolling on offense. He enters each season stating the goal of getting to the foul line more frequently, and there remains plenty of room for improvement there. This being the final season of his contract, it’s worth watching to see if he goes out of character or remains as metronomic as ever, with zero need for maintenance.