Warriors' demise has rest of NBA saying 'Why not us?' East exec believes


Warriors' demise has rest of NBA saying 'Why not us?' East exec believes

The Warriors ruled over the NBA for five years. Other teams were hoping they could wait out Golden State's reign of dominance.

That time is now for the rest of the NBA. Kevin Durant broke up the "Super Villains" by signing with the Brooklyn Nets. Andre Iguodala was traded to Memphis in a salary dump. Klay Thompson is expected to miss a majority of next season as he recovers from a torn ACL.

In the West, the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz all made major moves this month in an attempt to claim the crown. In the East, the 76ers re-signed Tobias Harris, added Al Horford and traded for Josh Richardson. The Nets added Kyrie Irving in addition to Durant. The Celtics replaced Irving with Kemba Walker.

With the Warriors no longer the top dog, teams are pushing all their chips in, even if it means trading multiple first-round draft picks or young, controllable players.

ESPN's Tim Bontemps spoke with an unnamed Eastern Conference executive who believes all the action we saw after July 1 was a direct cause of the Warriors' demise.

"Would this have happened if the Warriors are still the Warriors?" the executive told Bontemps. "There are five to 10 teams that are really, really good, so those teams are thinking, 'Why not us?' You basically would have been stupid to do that a couple years ago."

The Clippers traded FIVE first-round draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Paul George. The Rockets sent two protected first-round picks to the Thunder as part of the package for Russell Westbrook.

The Lakers' package for Anthony Davis included two former No. 2 overall picks (Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram). Memphis got three players and two first-round draft picks for Mike Conley.

[RELATED: Warriors projected to win 47 games]

The NBA is wide open and teams know it. The Warriors don't rule the league anymore.

If you have NBA title aspirations, now is the time to go for it.

Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell is rapidly approaching a date some NBA observers have circled since the Warriors acquired him this summer.

Golden State can trade Russell as soon as Sunday, Dec. 15, and the 23-year-old has been the source of trade speculation during his time in the Bay Area. The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski reported Wednesday, citing sources that the Minnesota Timberwolves "remain interested in Russell" and that the guard "seems to be realistic in understanding that he may not be long for the Warriors once Steph Curry and Klay Thompson return to full health."

Russell is averaging a career-high 22.4 points per game this season to go with 6.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds, serving as the top offensive option in the absence of his All-Star teammates. He knew he wouldn't play much with Thompson this season as he recovers from a torn ACL, but Curry's broken hand threw a wrench into the Warriors' -- and thus Russell's -- prospects this season. Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised how Russell has handled the rumors surrounding him. 

"Money doesn't buy peace of mind," Kerr said Friday morning (H/T San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau). "It doesn't buy a sense of belonging, a sense of, 'Alright, this is my team.' If there's speculation that you're going to be traded all the time, I don't care how much money you make, I don't care who you are. That's tough. That's no fun to deal with, and this season has been nowhere close to what D'Angelo thought it would be when he first signed with us.

"There's no Steph. We're struggling to win games. He's had his own injuries, and we're throwing all kinds of different lineups out there based on the other injuries we've faced." 

Russell has played in just 15 of the Warriors' 27 games this season, playing on a team that looks far more like the Los Angeles Lakers of his first two seasons than the playoff-contending Brooklyn Nets a year ago -- let alone the reigning Western Conference champion Warriors. 

[RELATED: How Warriors' Chriss earning chance to start at center]

Kerr, who entered this season with the highest winning percentage in NBA history (.785), is as aware of Golden State's dramatically different reality as anyone. He said it has only brought out the best in Russell. 

"So given all that, he's played really well, and he's been a great teammate and he's doing everything he needs to do to solidify his position here," Kerr continued. "But this is the NBA here, and we never know what's coming, what's happening. So, it's a difficult position to be in in general, but for him in particular it's strange set of circumstances and he's handling it really well." 

Whether or not the Warriors trade Russell, it's clear Kerr holds him in high regard.

Watch Warriors' Ky Bowman dominate for Santa Cruz in G League debut

Watch Warriors' Ky Bowman dominate for Santa Cruz in G League debut

Warriors two-way guard Ky Bowman made his G League debut Friday night in Santa Cruz.

He dominated the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario. 

The Boston College product could have scored 40 points if he really wanted to, but he picked his spots and made sure his teammates were getting good looks.

After shootaround in Utah on Friday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked what Bowman can work on while he's with the Sea Dubs.

"He's got a really aggressive mindset -- which I like -- but there are still circumstances and situations where he needs to think more pass," Kerr said. "And more strategic, rather than just score, score, score."

Bowman clearly listened to the eight-time NBA champion.

[RELATEDWhy Dubs might be very active before, after trade deadline]

Also, "Sky Bowman" was on full display.

The 22-year-old will be back in action Sunday afternoon as Santa Cruz faces the Northern Arizona Suns. Watch the game at 2:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

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