Warriors

Steve Kerr's patience thinning, but Warriors see no real alternatives

Steve Kerr's patience thinning, but Warriors see no real alternatives

LOS ANGELES – Steve Kerr spent a few minutes before tipoff Wednesday night musing about his predicament, which has transformed him into a coach Jordan Bell and Damian Jones, to name two former Warriors, would not recognize.

A coach with no choice but to tolerate the messes made by a roster heavy on youth and thinned by a slew of injuries.

“We’ve had anywhere from eight to 10 guys available each night,” Kerr said before a 120-94 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. “There are nights where I would love to take someone out based on a mistake they made. But I can’t take them out.

“We don’t have that hammer, as a coaching staff, to be able to reward guys with playing time or penalize them by taking playing time away.”

So, the mistakes keep coming, with no real consequences for those who make them.

“We’ve already improved some,” Draymond Green said after the game. “But we’ve got a long way to go. A long way to go.”

The Warriors conducted defensive drills during their morning shootaround – something they haven’t done since 2014-15 – because the coaching staff feels a need to emphasize and reemphasize points that might keep them from remaining the worst defensive team in the NBA.

“It’s crazy,” Green said of the morning session. “It’s interesting. It’s different. But you’ve got to teach. The thing about the NBA is you don’t have a ton of practices. So, you have to kind of teach on the fly. I get it.”

Being spanked by a potent Lakers team won’t help their horrid numbers and will only provide more video to study in hopes of learning. LA shot 53.9 percent from the field, including 45 percent from beyond the arc. In the first half, when the game was being decided, those numbers were 63 percent and 50 percent.

“Defensively, we never really had any traction,” Kerr said afterward. “We had some spells where we made some good things happen offensively, maybe got a stop or two. But every time it felt like we were right there, we just couldn’t get a stop.

“It’s almost impossible to win in this league when you can’t count on getting three stops in a row at some point.”

These standards, set by the great Warriors teams of recent seasons, are new and daunting for rookies Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall, who previously would have been in sit-and-learn mode this season. In addition, the veterans new to the Warriors – Alec Burks, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III and D’Angelo Russell – are having their own difficulties.

There is no choice but to live with the turnovers (Russell had five), the late defensive rotations and offensive sequences destined for segments on Shaqtin’ A Fool.

The Warriors are, in short, "Mistakes R Us."

Green and the veteran coaches who over the last five seasons prodded and pushed in pursuit of perfection can only watch and sigh. And contain the frustrations while waiting for lessons to be absorbed.

Bell and Jones are gone largely because they came into circumstances wherein there was very low tolerance for errors, particularly mental errors. They were kids among champions, new to a franchise chasing history, and simply were unable to approach the ultra-high standards set by such players as Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – as well as regal veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

So, when a youngster made a mistake in a game, Kerr was quick to summon a vet. He was coaching for wins, not growth. That was for practice.

Now, the focus is on growth with the faint hope it might lead to some victories. The Warriors are 2-10, with one proven scorer, Russell, and little reason to believe they can produce a startling turnaround.

“It’s understandable that we’re taking some licks, given the state of our team right now,” Kerr said. “But we have to learn from our mistakes. We’ve got to get better from game to game, especially defensively. It has to come.

“Not seeing it right now.”

[RELATED: What we learned as Warriors losing streak hits five games]

It’s not visible. It’s not there. It should get better, simply because the labor is not being questioned.

Until then, there is nothing that can be done by Kerr or Green or any of the coaches, all of whom are accustomed to repairing strategic issues in a matter of minutes, and penalizing those who couldn’t keep up.

Warriors NBA free agency targets: Five guards, wings team could sign

Warriors NBA free agency targets: Five guards, wings team could sign

NBA free agency is slated to open Oct. 18 at 3:00 p.m. PT.

Despite the fact that still is over three months away, it's never too early to look ahead.

Last week, Grant Liffmann listed six "under-the-radar" free agents the Warriors could target. And on Wednesday -- Monte Poole, Kerith Burke, Liffmann and yours truly advanced the discussion in the latest "Warriors Roundtable."

One player discussed in depth was Josh Jackson of the Memphis Grizzlies. The 23-year-old -- who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft -- averaged 16.6 points, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals over his last five games before the season was suspended, while shooting over 38 percent from deep.

How he plays in the Orlando "bubble" might greatly impact his earning potential on the open market, and it's possible the Warriors won't be able to afford him.

[RELATED: Why Kenny Smith used pickup analogy to describe Draymond]

Watch the video above to see the complete conversation.

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[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

How LeBron James' Decision put him on path to become Warriors nemesis

How LeBron James' Decision put him on path to become Warriors nemesis

LeBron James put himself on a collision course with the Warriors a decade ago Wednesday.

Few would've guessed as much when James, then 25 years old and already the best basketball player on the planet, told Jim Gray and viewers nationwide that he'd take his talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. James, after all, was leaving one of the saddest franchises in NBA history, spurning the Cleveland Cavaliers to link up with close friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Warriors, then 35 years removed from their last NBA championship and a year away from drafting Klay Thompson, have anything to do with it?

But James' departure from Cleveland planted the seeds for the prodigal son's return four years later, and the kid from Akron's titanic decision to leave set him on a path that would become inseparable from Golden State's by the end of the 2010s. You can trace the roots of the Warriors' cross-conference rivalry with the Cavs, as well as Kevin Durant's decision to sign with Golden State, to "The Decision" a decade ago.

James and the Cavaliers were the Warriors' biggest obstacles during their dynastic run, with the teams squaring off four straight times in the NBA Finals. But He might never have stood in Golden State's way if he never left Cleveland.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

While James surely could've done without the instantaneous, visceral backlash from his hometown fans, or the childish letter penned in Comic Sans by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, he told Lee Jenkins -- then with Sports Illustrated -- in 2014 that he always knew he was going to return to Cleveland at some point.

"When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission," James said at the time. "I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio."

The Cavaliers seemingly prepared for the possibility, too. Going an NBA-worst 97-215 in James' absence helped Cleveland compile high pick after high pick who would either play alongside James (Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson) or be used in trades to acquire other pieces (Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins). If James stays in 2010, it goes without saying the Cavaliers aren't picking in the lottery over the next four years. Former general manager David Griffin and the Cavs' front office instead eventually built a contender around James, whereas Griffin's Miami counterparts would've had a much more difficult time remaining one.

Even if James stayed with the Heat, president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg were without first-round picks thanks to the sign-and-trades that brought James and Bosh to the Heat in the first place. Young talent was needed, in hindsight, as Wade got older and Bosh eventually retired due to his blood clotting condition. Miami couldn't have provided that, and it's thus difficult to envision James as the Warriors' nemesis while staying on South Beach.

James still would've been close to the peak of his powers, but the Heat wouldn't have been as formidable a challenge for the Warriors as James' Cavaliers were in their first two Finals matchups. A hypothetical Warriors-Heat Finals in 2015 probably is even more one-sided than the San Antonio Spurs' gentlemen's sweep of the Heat a year prior, and who's to say if Miami would've remained on its Eastern Conference perch much longer than that.

Leaving Cleveland also indirectly ensured the Cavaliers wouldn't win more than one championship during James' second stint in Ohio. James' decision led to backlash in the league's front offices, too, ensuring the institution of a harsher luxury tax. The Oklahoma City Thunder ultimately justified trading James Harden because of said luxury tax, as Tim Bontemps noted while writing for The Washington Post in 2016, which surely contributed to Kevin Durant's eventual departure for the Warriors. James' decision also showed superstars that they could control their own destinies, narratives be damned.

[RELATED: Wild stats from Steph's first game vs. LeBron's Heat team]

If the Heat's Big 3 never forms, does the NBA's next collective bargaining agreement even include a provision designed to stop free agents from forming super-teams? If the Thunder never breaks up, do the Warriors ever get past a team led by Durant, Harden and Russell Westbrook? If James stays in Cleveland, is a player of Durant's caliber even willing to leave OKC in the first place?

When James said those infamous seven words 10 years ago, nobody could've known he was charting a path that inevitably would intertwine with the Warriors' own. Had James' decade-old decision gone differently, the Warriors' recent past would look unquestionably unrecognizable.