Warriors

Steph Curry explains why he flew to New York to meet with Kevin Durant

Steph Curry explains why he flew to New York to meet with Kevin Durant

For three years, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant stood atop the basketball world.

They were two pillars for the greatest collection of talent in NBA history. Three years and two titles flew by, and then, it was over. 

When free agency opened, with Curry reportedly on a plane en route to meet Durant in New York, the two-time NBA Finals MVP decided to leave the Warriors and join the Brooklyn Nets. 

Despite KD's decision being made before he got there, Curry continued on. He wasn't going to pitch Durant on staying with the Warriors as some believed. He had wanted to check on his friend and teammate who ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors earlier, but Curry had been in Asia on his Under Armour tour. He also wanted to give the proper closure to the type of three-year stretch the NBA might never see again.

"I knew full well it was decision time, whatever way he was going to go,” Curry told The Athletic's Marcus Thompson at the American Century Golf Championship celebrity tournament about his meeting with Durant.

“There was no need to pitch. He knows what we’re about and what we accomplished. He just had to make a decision that makes him happy. That’s what everybody wants to do in this league. It was more about a respect factor, not letting the BS of this league get in the way of our relationship, and not let it change who I am or anything like that. I feel like he just knew what he wanted. And at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for as a player.”

Durant had said all along he couldn't be recruited. After all, he is Kevin Durant. Curry knew that. So he traveled to New York to meet his fellow all-time great to show respect to the three years they had together and close the chapter on their dynastic run in the proper way. 

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As Durant begins his lengthy Achilles rehab, Curry will enter next season having to take a new approach. With Durant gone and Klay Thompson out until at least February after tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the Finals, Curry and Draymond Green will have to shoulder a heavy load to keep the Warriors afloat in a revamped Western Conference

At 31 years old, it will be a lot to ask of Curry, but a challenge he undoubtedly is ready to take on.

Steph Curry primed for another MVP season after Warriors' roster change

Steph Curry primed for another MVP season after Warriors' roster change

Forty months ago, Stephen Curry stood on a makeshift podium at Oracle Arena staring intently at his second straight MVP trophy.

In the months leading prior, Curry had put together one of the most efficient scoring seasons ever, earning the first unanimous MVP in league history while leading Golden State to a league-record 73 wins.

More than three years later, on a team with eight new faces and Klay Thompson out for the majority of the season, Curry is on fertile ground to replicate the best season of his career, and if you let him tell it, the thought has crossed his mind.

"At the end of the day, winning an MVP would be special," Curry said in a recent interview with Rachel Nichols on ESPN's "The Jump." "And it's something that -- I've experienced before and would love to experience again.

"I'd love to push the envelope," Curry added as he showed Nichols around the recently opened Chase Center -- the Warriors' new San Francisco home. "Push the limits a little bit."

With that in mind, Curry enters his eleventh season under semi-similar circumstances as he did in his illustrious second MVP campaign.

The Warriors were months removed from the 2015 NBA title and Curry was tasked with carrying the biggest offensive burden in the league.

Over the 82-game schedule, Curry had the highest player efficiency rating since 1991, while leading the league in 3-pointers made (402), steals (169), win-shares (17.9) and value over replacement (9.8) while finishing second in usage.

For the Warriors to stay afloat this season, a similar offensive load will be expected for Curry.

Two months ago, Kevin Durant opted to join the Brooklyn Nets in a sign-and-trade, prompting a restructuring in Golden State that brought eight new players to the roster, including all-star guard D'Angelo Russell. Adding to the conundrum, Thompson -- who tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in June -- will be out for the majority of the season.

Under the current roster structure, the Warriors need Curry to be historically great once again, something he seems to be aware of.

"I always say, I'm playing like I'm the best player on the floor no matter what the situation is," Curry told Nichols. "That's my mentality. It might not mean I'm taking every shot, but that's the aggressiveness that I need to play with and the confidence I need to have."

The key to Curry's season will be his health. Over the last two seasons, Curry has missed a combined 44 games due to injury, including 31 during the 2017-18 season. Last season, it was a non-contact groin injury that forced the guard to miss more than two weeks. The season before, a series of ankle injuries undermined one of the best statistical seasons of his career, as he missed the most games since 2012 when ankle surgery ended his season.

[RELATED: Steph responds to KD's belief Warriors never accepted him]

If his health holds up, Curry should lead the MVP conversation for much of the season, and he could be staring at his third Maurice Podoloff Trophy next summer.

Warriors coaches understand why team inspires juicy debate this season

Warriors coaches understand why team inspires juicy debate this season

As the flurry of activity that defined this NBA summer ambles toward its end, debating the future of the Warriors continues to run hotter than it has since 2008, when folks argued the merits and potential of Year 2 of the “We Believe” team.

After four seasons during which it was widely accepted that the Warriors were championship favorites, 2019-20 brings fresh intrigue and -- as we’ve learned in casual conversations around the league -- sharp differences of opinion among media members, scouts, agents and others.

One side: If Stephen Curry and Draymond Green stay healthy, they can reach 50 wins. Maybe more. And if Klay Thompson makes a strong return by March, they’ll win a playoff series.

The other side: Anyone putting the Warriors in the playoffs is delusional. Their defense will spring too many leaks, Curry is bound to miss games, they’re too small and the Western Conference is too deep.

Seeking a candid opinion from an informed individual, I reached out to Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams. He’s pragmatic, devoid of BS and, obviously, has a stake in the matter. I dropped some of the outside chatter into his lap.

“I don’t know,” he said recently, chuckling. “I mean, we have a lot of moving parts, a lot of young players. They’re good guys, willing to learn and eager to get better.

“I’m hopeful.”

Adams is 11 days away from perhaps his most important season as a member of Steve Kerr’s coaching staff. He thrived in his initial role, to coordinate and promote a defensive mentality. His new role means a reduction in game input, with greater emphasis on behind-the-scenes development. His job is to help the kids grow up.

He has a ton of clay to mold.

D’Angelo Russell last season progressed from gifted player to All-Star. What’s next for D-Lo? The Warriors, for the first time under this staff, which has been revamped, will need contributions from at least one rookie, maybe two. Can 7-foot Willie Cauley-Stein become, at age 26, the rim protector in San Francisco he was not during four seasons in Sacramento?

Adams on Russell: “I’ve spent some time with D’Angelo and I find him to be a really charming guy. Intuitively, I really like him as a person. He’s still young, still growing, but I like what I see. He’s going to help us.”

On rookies Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall and Alen Smailagic: “I like all of them. We have a really good crop of gym rats. I don’t think there’s any question Jordan is a pro shooter. He has quick release, can handle and has defensive potential.

"Eric has a chance to contribute this year. He needs to keep working on his shot, but he's got a good vibe. Alen is very dedicated and wants to be good, but he’s pretty green.”

On Cauley-Stein: “This experiment is going to be really interesting. He’s got length and he’s a good athlete. He’s got some developing to do, and I think he knows that.”

On the reserves playing behind Curry, Green, Russell, Cauley-Stein (the presumptive starter) and whomever opens the season at small forward: “Our bench could be a little more dynamic, regarding the ability to score, than it was last season. But stopping people is going to be challenging.”

Adams can be an old-school contrarian, but he enjoys the teaching aspect of his job. That’s one reason for modifying his duties toward that end.

Kerr, on the other hand, takes more of a new-school approach, no doubt because of his own 15-year playing career.

But, yes, both agree that defense is going to be pivotal.

“Nobody knows what we have right now,” Kerr said earlier this summer on the Warriors Insider podcast. “We know what we’ve lost. We’ve lost Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Klay Thompson. So, from that perspective it doesn’t sound that great.”

Kerr allowed himself a laugh before continuing.

“We’ve got all these young guys and we’ve got to see how they fit together. We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to play, who can play together and what our defense is going to look like. That’s probably the thing I’m most worried about. We’ve had a great, versatile defensive club every year since I’ve been here, and we’re losing so much of that defensive versatility on the perimeter.

"We’ve got a lot to sort through.”

[RELATED: Biggest questions Warriors face heading into this season]

That’s why there is such fuel to the debate. The Warriors have gone from sure thing to mystery team. Adams and Kerr know what’s ahead, and they understand it will be their most challenging season.

On that point, there is not even a rumor of debate.