Warriors

Warriors aren't NBA title contenders? Steph Curry laughs at the notion

Warriors aren't NBA title contenders? Steph Curry laughs at the notion

OAKLAND - With Kevin Durant gone, Klay Thompson injured and immense roster turnover, many observers don't see the Warriors as NBA title contenders entering the 2019-20 season. 

Stephen Curry, Golden State's oldest and best player, is amused by this notion. 

"I just laugh at it," Curry said during his second annual Warriors All-Girls basketball camp in Oakland on Monday afternoon. "Anybody can say anything about anything nowadays and it can pick up steam. So we've had lots of support. We've had a lot of criticism on the way that doesn't change now. Just what they're saying is different so doesn't change how we go about our business."

Curry's optimism comes as his team has undergone a summer of transition. Aside from the team's move to San Francisco, the roster now has eight new faces, including All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell, was acquired in a sign-and-trade for Durant last month. In recent weeks, Curry and the young guard have been working out around the Bay Area with Curry's trainer Brandon Payne, a practice the two-time MCP believes will help during the season. 

New roster changes means Golden State will enter the season without trusted pieces. In the wake of the Durant sign-and-trade, Andre Iguodala was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies to free up cap space. Additionally, Jordan Bell and Quinn Cook signed with other teams, while veteran guard Shaun Livingston was waived for more salary cap relief. Now, with eight new additions, including big man Willie Cauley Stein, Curry still believes the new team can coexist.

"It's just a matter of really trying to get guys comfortable with the system, be able to highlight the different skill sets that we have and different strengths and the chemistry," Curry said. "It will take a little bit of time and a lot of hard work, but like I said, we have a lot of high IQ guys from our core and a lot of leadership and commitment to what we do, so starting in the training camp and beyond, you have to have a mindset that you will continue to get better as the season goes on."

As Curry navigates the change around the organization, his commitment to the advancement of women remains constant. Last year, he wrote an op-ed in the Player's Tribune pushing for equal pay for women. Five months ago, after nine-year-old Riley Morrison pointed out that Curry's Under Armour shoe line didn't include women's sizing, the Warriors point guard released a women's only colorway of his Curry 6 with the phrases “Be Fearless,” “Girl Power,” “Girls Hoop Too” and “Rock The Currys," inscribed in the sock liners. On Monday, Curry enlisted a five-woman panel that included broadcaster and Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman to speak to the crowd of young girls clad in Curry "30" jerseys. 

"There's a lot of people kind of speaking on the topic and speaking on the women's game and doing amazing work in terms of creating awareness, trying to get things changed and creating experiences like this camp." Curry said. "So I'm not alone in that fight. But in terms of just giving these girls between eight and 15,16 years old, a vision of who they can be in life, what they can accomplish in the world of sports."

Monday's camp makred one of the last events in Golden State's downtown Oakland facility. In the next two weeks, staffers will move out of their cubicles and into Chase Center as part of the organization's move to San Francisco.

[RELATED: Steph reflects on KD's Warriors tenure]

That's something Curry is still adjusting to. 

"It's still always bittersweet for sure," Curry said. "Cause I guess I've spent 10 years here. I remember my first training camp with Don Nelson and Kelenna Azubuike and the whole roster and 10 years later for guys that have come through this organization ... It's just weird and different but exciting for sure."

Why Warriors shouldn't be concerned about Suns' undefeated bubble run

Why Warriors shouldn't be concerned about Suns' undefeated bubble run

The Phoenix Suns deserve a ton of credit for going a perfect 8-0 in the Orlando bubble, and nearly earning their way into the play-in tournament between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in the Western Conference.

Devin Booker was unbelievable, averaging 30.5 points and 6.0 assists, while shooting over 50 percent from the field. One of the best moments out of all of the seeding games was his game winner vs. the LA Clippers at the buzzer.

(Quick side note -- the team's official Twitter account produced some incredible content over the last couple of weeks, and pretty much became a must-follow.)

Because of what the Suns accomplished in the 2019-20 season restart, there are people across the basketball world who are expecting big things next season.

Should the Warriors view Phoenix as a legitimate threat in the West, or at the very least a team that definitely will be competing for a playoff spot? In short, the answer is no. Pump the brakes.

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

It just was one week ago when Golden State forward Draymond Green disparaged the Suns' organization, saying he wishes Booker could leave the franchise because playing there is "not good for his career." Since 2010 -- when the Suns last made the playoffs -- they have finished with a winning record one time. Furthermore, it's well known that ownership isn't exactly committed to spending the necessary money on the roster, and it's fair to assume things could get worse on the financial front because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The reality is that Phoenix entered the bubble with no expectations whatsoever, and absolutely had nothing to lose. As mentioned before, they should be showered with praise for not mailing it in. They took it to heart to improve individually and collectively, and wanted to prove the NBA right simply for including them.

Mission accomplished.

But yours truly isn't going to take the Suns seriously until we see how they perform when legitimate stakes are on the line. Let's see if they can rise to the occasion when the opposition treats them like a legitimate threat, and they aren't able to sneak up on teams.

If fans return to arenas at some point next season, will the Suns be able to go on the road and win consistently? When adversity hits and they're feeling pressure, how will they respond?

Furthermore, while it's way too early to fully project the landscape (we got to see what happens with the NBA draft and free agency in October), we know the Western Conference is loaded.

[RELATED: Will Dubs contend for '21 title? 'Hell yes,' Kirk Lacob says]

The nine 2020 playoff teams aren't going anywhere, and the New Orleans Pelicans (if they stay healthy) should be vastly improved. And then there's the Warriors, who typically play the Suns four times each season because they're in the same division. The Dubs expect to go from the team with the worst record in the NBA, to legitimate 2020-21 title contenders.

Plain and simple -- it's going to be very, very hard for the Suns to reach the postseason next year. And we doubt the Warriors are losing any sleep thinking about the franchise coach Steve Kerr was the general manager of from 2007 to 2010.

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Warriors fans might take coronavirus tests upon entering Chase Center

Warriors fans might take coronavirus tests upon entering Chase Center

Joe Lacob doesn't sound concerned at all about revamping the roster this October to put the Warriors in position to contend for the title next season.

In fact, it seems like Golden State's owner and CEO is more focused on another key area.

"Our biggest challenge is going to be the virus and getting fans back in the stands," Lacob told Larry Beil this week on ABC7's "With Authority" podcast. "That's what we are built to do -- have a great audience and entertain our fans, as well as win a championship. So we really want to do that.

"We're working really hard in that regard, to try to figure out a way that we can resume play with fans."

Lacob uniquely is positioned to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, as he earned a master's in epidemiology from UCLA. He never thought that degree would be put to use in his professional life.

But now, it has great importance. And Lacob is at the forefront of the NBA's quest to get fans in arenas for games as soon as possible.

"I've worked with the league extensively on the testing strategies with respect to what's going on in the bubble," he told Beil. "And we're actually doing the same thing in terms of trying to lead the way (for) how we're going to maybe test fans as an example -- if need be -- when we resume play."

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

So yes -- if you want to attend a Dubs game at Chase Center next season, it's possible that you will get tested for COVID-19 -- and get an immediate result -- before you are permitted to enter the building.

Then again, this probably only becomes a possibility if the city of San Francisco and public health experts give the Warriors clearance to allow fans through the doors. Additionally, it's possible the NBA returns to some form of a bubble format and avoids games in local markets altogether.

Myriad options remain on the table, and there is no timetable for when the league's plan will be finalized.

[RELATED: Report: Dubs might get clearance for team practices at Chase]

But regardless of the logistics, Lacob expects the Warriors to win a lot of games no matter where they are played.

"It really does look like things are lining up for us to be a very good team next year," he said. "It's hard to say (when) you're the worst team in the league that you're gonna be a contender for the title -- but I do think we will be."

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram