Warriors

Warriors' blowout loss to Raptors deserves long look in the mirror

Warriors' blowout loss to Raptors deserves long look in the mirror

OAKLAND -- If you believe the Golden State Warriors are truly invulnerable, then Wednesday’s 113-93 muzzling at the hands of the Toronto Raptors was a fairly revolting performance all around, but hardly worth the worry.
 
Of course, there is the other possibility – that Toronto is really difficult for Golden State to play with or without Kawhi Leonard, which creates its own set of worries come money-in-the-pot time.
 
Either way, one of the most anticipated pre-Christmas games of the season ended up a flatline special. Leonard did not play and the Raptors were better than they were two weeks ago in Toronto, which is surely an anomaly. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green did play and the Warriors looked far worse, which is equally improbable.
 
Now it could be that the waxing crescent of the moon was just getting some of its own back after Curry decided to mock its role in the history of space exploration. But more likely, the Raptors just showed their undisputed quality; they hammered two of the best teams in the Western Conference (combined record, 36-18, 21-4 at home) by 44 points on back-to-back nights on the road without their best player.
 
Head coach Steve Kerr saw all of that and went to the place that ought to scare everyone involved with the defending champions – that there may be a new version of themselves in the argument.
 
“We’re now in a place where we’re defending a title,” Kerr said, “in a place where we’re defending a mantle that we’ve had for several years. It’s a different vibe than when you’re on the climb like Toronto is, like Milwaukee is, like we were a few years ago. It’s harder to get up for each game, and there are certain nights when you can just feel it. If you’ve played in this league or coached or followed it, sometimes you can just feel it.”

[RELATED: Steph Curry says Warriors would beat Shaq's Lakers that had three-peat]
 
He stayed for a few more questions, but in practical terms he had dropped the mic already. The Warriors have been served notice by the Raptors that their expertise in championship runs is being challenged by Toronto’s youth and hunger . . . and, if you want to be less granular, you can include Milwaukee and Philadelphia as well.
 
But motivation alone does not bell the cat, as people who puts bells on cats will tell you. The Warriors spent the first half Wednesday deciding whether it was worth it to them to play defense, and by the time they decided to give it a try, they were, in Kerr’s words, “swimming upstream.”
 
And offensively, they struggled to get their usual raft full of open looks. Fred Van Vleet defended Curry into near-invisibility and Klay Thompson never found a comfort level against an ever-changing set of defenders, predominantly Kyle Lowry. The Warriors committed 19 turnovers, were outrebounded at both ends (credit Raptors Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam and Jonas Valanciunas before he got hurt for that level of control), and in general found that most of their possessions were a thorough grind.
 
That explains Toronto, but the Warriors . . . well, their lack of energy speaks to the reality that not every game we think is a measure of their mettle is viewed with the same gravity by the players themselves. And it isn’t just being the hunted – they’ve been that for three consecutive seasons. It’s that they find urgency to be optional more often than they used to.
 
If there is a silver lining for Golden State, it is Kerr’s rhetorical attempt to steel his players’ spines.

“I would think we would have the edge (if the two teams reached the NBA Finals) in that they’ve kicked our butts twice,” he said, laying the task of motivation directly at the players’ locker stalls. He has made his view clear that the Warriors let this happen Wednesday night, and now they have given a team the kind of life they took for granted in 2015, when everything was energy and carbonation and fun and free chips from the dealer.
 
That should work, if only because the Warriors aren’t done yet. But they now see themselves as they once were, and teams emulating their path to glory. Toronto is but  the best of the teams who can inspire that kind of nostalgia – the kind that could end up burning them in the end if they don’t recognize it for what it is.
 
A direct challenge from their own history.

Jimmer Fredette signs in Greece after leaving Warriors Summer League team

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Jimmer Fredette signs in Greece after leaving Warriors Summer League team

Jimmer Fredette's decision to back out of the Warriors' Summer League roster seems to have paid off.

The 30-year-old guard announced Monday on Instagram that he signed with Greece's Panathinaikos BC, nearly two weeks after pulling out of Summer League in order to stay healthy as he weighed overseas offers. The contract with Panathinaikos, according to Eurohoops, is for two years.

Drafted No. 10 overall in 2010, the former BYU phenom bounced around the NBA for five seasons before playing with the Shanghai Sharks in China from 2016 through 2019. Fredette briefly joined the Phoenix Suns at the end of the 2018-19 season, averaging 3.7 points on 27.6 percent shooting from the field in six games. 

[RELATED: Cavs reportedly offered J.R. for Iguodala trade]

Fredette didn't live up to the hype in NBA that his decorated college career heralded for some fans, Panathinaikos is one of the most decorated teams in Europe and won the Greek Cup under Rick Pitino -- yes, that Rick Pitino -- just last season. All things considered, it's not a bad landing spot for Fredette, and he intimated as much last month while he was still aiming for an NBA comeback.

"I’ve had a lot of cool places to play basketball and make great money and play the game that I love," he said last month at the Warriors' facility. "It has been a true blessing, and I’m continuing my journey right now, trying to push forward, see what happens and make the best of the situation I have.”

NBA rumors: Rockets resisting Andre Iguodala trade due to luxury tax

NBA rumors: Rockets resisting Andre Iguodala trade due to luxury tax

Andre Iguodala currently is a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.

That remains strange to type.

With Memphis in full rebuild mode, it would be shocking if Iguodala remains with the franchise past the February trade deadline.

On Monday morning, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium provided an update on where things stand with the 2015 NBA Finals MVP:

"The Grizzlies have tried to find a trade partner for Iguodala and get some value back -- more than the first-round pick that they acquired from the Warriors to take on his salary.

"The Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets have engaged with the Grizzlies at different points this offseason. Neither have really gained traction.

"The two teams strongly pursuing Iguodala still are the Rockets and the Clippers, but both teams seem to be at a standstill in talks with the Grizzlies.

The Rockets are still not comfortable and have been resisting going that deep into the luxury tax to acquire a guy like Iguodala where they give up a draft pick. Their tax bill could rise to upwards of $20 million.

The Clippers on the other hand -- the only salary that makes sense for them in terms of shipping out is Moe Harkless, the forward they acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers. But I'm told they do not want to part with Harkless in any type of a deal for Iguodala.

"Both the Rockets and the Clippers have been searching for third and fourth team scenarios to acquire Iguodala. At some point, the Grizzlies could just release Iguodala in a buyout agreement and do right by him and allow him to pick his next team.

"They have been working closely with his agent in trying to find a situation that works best for both sides."

Let's unpack all of this piece-by-piece.

The Grizzlies received a 2024 first-round pick (top-four protected) from Golden State. It's somewhat bold of them to expect even more in exchange, but Iguodala is very valuable and they do hold the leverage right now.

If the Rockets end up refusing to acquire Iguodala because of a luxury tax bill, then owner Tilman Fertitta might as well just sell the team. The guy is worth over $5 billion. Pay up.

If the Clippers are unwilling to give up Harkless for Iguodala, well ...

... that would be incrediby silly and probably won't sit well with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

[RELATEDReport: Former team wants Iguodala back, but price too high]

Most likely, all sides are simply posturing and doing what you do in negotiations. It's quite possible that the front offices involved want to relax and let the dust settle before pulling any triggers.

Besides, we all know that Iguodala eventually will find a way to maneuver himself back to the Warriors next season...

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