Warriors

Sources: Warriors willing to deal Alec Burks at NBA trade deadline

Sources: Warriors willing to deal Alec Burks at NBA trade deadline

SAN FRANCISCO -- In this year of movable assets for the Warriors, this season is dramatically different from the last five in nearly every tangible way. Perhaps nowhere is it more dissimilar than their approach to the NBA trade deadline.

After five years basically ignoring it, this time around, they’re completely dialed into it.

With the deadline fewer than six weeks away, it’s quickly approaching time to make decisions the Warriors anticipated last summer when constructing a roster specifically for this season.

They acquired several potentially attractive tradable assets, and none has been more coveted than Alec Burks, who possesses the attributes contending teams desire. He’s a wing with a respectable 3-point shot, he’s playing well, he’s low-maintenance and he’s cheap.

And, Friday night at Chase Center, Burks was clutch, scoring nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in the fourth quarter to lead a comeback that resulted in a 105-96 win over the Phoenix Suns.

As much as the Warriors like Burks, and they most assuredly do, they are willing, according to league sources, to part with him -- and several other veterans -- for the right deal. Why consider moving arguably their most proficient offensive player? Because they want to create room to accommodate two-way guards Damion Lee and Ky Bowman.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr acknowledged as much late Friday night.

“It’s an awkward situation for us, because Ky and Damion are coming up on their limit,” Kerr said. “And they’re two of our top seven players in our rotation. And yet the rules are that we only have them for another nine or 10 days each.

“Everybody is aware of that. We don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

Lee actually has 12 NBA days remaining on his two-way deal, while Bowman has 11. The Warriors have been tossing about the topic of Lee and Bowman -- and what it would take to keep them -- for several weeks. Now, though, there is a creeping sense of urgency.

“I’ll be honest: I don’t even know how many days I have left,” Lee said. “Same with Ky.”

The cleanest and most obvious path is through a trade, and multiple league sources insist the Warriors are prepared to do that. When general manager Bob Myers was adding vets to the roster over the summer, one of the goals was to bring in contracts that would be easy to move. So, they offered mostly one-year deals.

Burks is making $2.3 million this season. Glenn Robinson III is at $1.9 million. Marquese Chriss is at $1.7 million on a non-guaranteed pact. Willie Cauley-Stein’s contract is at $2.2 million for this season, with a player option at $2.3 million for next season. The Warriors traded for Omari Spellman, who is at $1.9 million, and they already have picked the option on next season at just under $2 million.

Burks’ ability to get buckets in the half-court makes him their most attractive available player. Today’s NBA is about wings, and several contenders have a need. The Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors are all evaluating their rosters, and each would welcome a solid, fearless, veteran wing.

Most appealing to the Warriors are future assets. Draft picks. Maybe a young player who isn’t ready to contribute this season in ways that a Burks or Robinson might.

The locker room is alert to rumors that Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston -- much less Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- never had to deal with. They were set, stitched into the fabric of a championship-caliber team.

The current Warriors are not championship-caliber, and none of the new additions, including key acquisition D’Angelo Russell, are going to take them anywhere close to that level this season.

“We talk to our players all the time,” Kerr said. “The staff does, individually. I talk to them as a team.

“It’s the NBA, so anything could happen. But we definitely wish that we could just have those guys on our roster and keep everyone because we like everybody on our roster. A lot of good, young players, so we’ll see how it all shakes out.”

[RELATED: Why Warriors' Paschall isn't worried about 'rookie wall']

The trade deadline is Feb. 6, giving the Warriors 41 days to shake things out.

There will be shaking, too, as this team was built for precisely that purpose.

Kobe Bryant memorial service has Warriors prepping for emotional day

Kobe Bryant memorial service has Warriors prepping for emotional day

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors exited Chase Center on Sunday after adding another defeat to their tally, this time against the New Orleans Pelicans. But Golden State, along with the remainder of the NBA, is preparing to reckon with its toughest loss in years.

The league momentarily will come to a standstill Monday, when all eyes will fixate on Staples Center in Los Angeles for the memorial service of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who died last month -- along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others -- in a helicopter crash.

Golden State pillars Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are expected to attend the service, along with general manager Bob Myers. But the other Warriors, armed with memories of their hero, will be left to reconcile his death in the confines of practice and search for closure in a familiar setting.

"It's going to be emotional," Warriors big man Marquese Chriss told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday. "I think it's going to bring back up a lot of emotions that everybody was feeling on the day that it happened. I think people aren't going to know how to feel. It's going to make it real."

The practice court serves as a unique reminder of Bryant's death. That's where the team received the news five weeks ago, just as it began pre-practice workouts.

An assistant coach relayed the initial message, and practice soon was stopped as Warriors players and staff gathered their thoughts.

"You could hear a pin drop in there," rookie forward Eric Paschall said. "It was stopped."

From the bowels of the billion-dollar basketball facility, Warriors assistant Jarron Collins walked through the adjoining weight room, up the steps and down a corridor to Chase Center's main court to tell Chriss the news. Chriss, then on a two-way contract and away from the team as to not burn his NBA service time, was floored when he heard it.

Chriss and Bryant once shared an agent, Rob Pelinka, who represented them both before he became the Lakers' general manager in 2017. The legendary Lakers guard even stopped by Chriss' college pro day at an LA-area high school ahead of the 2016 NBA Draft, bringing a buzz with him into the gym.

"It was dope to see his energy," Chriss said. "He walked into the gym, and the energy in the gym changed. He had a presence about him. Everybody wanted to talk to him, kind of pick his brain and be around him."

Similar stories are told throughout Golden State's locker room. Thompson -- whose father, Mychal, still calls Lakers games for the local radio affiliate -- met Bryant when he was a child, and he occasionally worked out with him at UC Irvine.

“He was obviously the best player in the world at the time," Thompson remembered after Bryant's final game at Oracle Arena in 2016. "I just remember watching him work out, how methodical [he was] and attention to detail he gave to every drill. It inspired me a lot.”

When Thompson was charged with marijuana possession during his junior year at Washington State, Bryant sent him an expletive-filled text.

“He said, 'Forget about that,' said it with a couple expletives and, 'Just go out there and kill,' " Thompson recounted.

“I have a potty mouth,” Bryant added that evening when asked about the exchange. “I just told him, 'Listen, man, we all make mistakes. You can’t worry about that stuff. Just keep your focus on basketball, and everything will work itself out.' "

While Thompson personally knew Bryant for much of his life, Green admired the five-time NBA champion from afar as a kid. Nonetheless, he still finds himself reconciling the loss of his idol.

"I think I'm still at the point where every time you see it, you're like, 'Damn.' Like is it a real thing?" Green said Sunday. "I don't know. Maybe tomorrow brings closure. Maybe it don't."

The topic of Bryant's memorial brought Green back to the first time he played against the guard at Oracle, which forced the forward out of his routine.

"I'm never really a guy to get star-struck," Green said. "There's two people that I've ever been star-struck by in this league, and that's Kobe and Grant Hill."

"I was finishing my pregame shooting, and Kobe was coming out," Green added. "And you have your stuff you have to do in the back when you're done shooting, and so I finished my shooting and Kobe was coming out, and I just sat on the end of the bench, and before I knew it, 20, 25 minutes had passed, and I was late as hell to finish my pregame prep, but that was just a moment for me where I was stuck like, 'Wow, I just saw Kobe work out.' "

When Green wasn't in awe of Bryant, he wanted counsel from him. Four years ago, following Green's suspension for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, he sought Bryant's advice in the wake of criticism during a time Green called "the lowest point" of his career. After hearing Green vent, Bryant responded with a message: "You’re chasing something so much bigger. How do you ever expect anyone to understand you?"

Green keeps the advice close to this day. 

"It helped me a lot," he said. "Because you kind of deal with things a certain way, and when you're dealing with things a certain way, you can only do what you think is best at the end of the day. But when you get reassurance from someone who's been through it at the highest level that the way you're dealing with something is like OK, it gives you that confidence to carry out whatever it is in the way you think it was right. It gives you that green light, like it's cool."

[RELATED: Steph looks sharp before Dubs-Pelicans as return nears]

Now, as his Warriors teammates say one last goodbye Monday, each will try to follow Green's credo in carrying on Bryant's legacy.

"The way you approach this game," Green said. "I think if there was anything he could ask for, that's what he would ask for. That he gave everything he had to it."

Watch Steph Curry impress in sharp pre-game warm-up as return nears

Watch Steph Curry impress in sharp pre-game warm-up as return nears

Steph Curry didn't take the floor during the Warriors' loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. 

The injured Golden State star did beforehand, however, looking game-ready as he went through a pre-game workout. 

Curry hasn't played since breaking his left hand on Oct. 30. He was cleared for contact in practices Saturday, scrimmaging with his teammates for the first time since picking up the injury and subsequently undergoing two surgeries. The 31-year-old said Saturday that lingering nerve damage in his left hand has taken some getting used to, but that he is targeting a March 1 return

Former Warriors Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin dealt with the same injury during their NBA careers. Mullin had three separate hand surgeries during his, and he said Curry's biggest adjustment will come from playing with his teammates again.

"He practices at game pace," Mullin said of Curry on Sunday during Warriors Pregame Live. "He takes game shots all the time. His fitness will be there. It's (about) getting acclimated to the players around him, finding the spacing and the timing."

[RELATED: Why Bender signing is 'great opportunity' for him, Warriors]

Though Curry didn't injure his dominant hand, he relies on his left a lot to pass and when he finishes at the rim. He won't lose trust in his shot, but Richmond thinks the two-time MVP has to ensure  

"I went through that same injury [and so did] Mully," Richmond said Sunday. "It's all about confidence when you come back. ... I think, for him, he wants to find that confidence that it can be hit, and then he can come back from it." 

The Warriors owned the NBA's worst record after Sunday's loss, which clinched their third losing streak of six games or more. Curry's return won't lift Golden State out of the league's cellar, but it undoubtedly will lift his teammates' spirits in an otherwise dreary season.