Warriors

Warriors embrace playing second fiddle to Kobe for one final night

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AP

Warriors embrace playing second fiddle to Kobe for one final night

OAKLAND -- The NBA’s No. 1 road attraction will be reduced to fine print on the marquee Monday night in Los Angeles.

Sure, the house will be packed when the Warriors invade Staples Center. It’s the hottest ticket in the league this season, a gala evening that undoubtedly will receive Hollywood embellishments, searchlights for sure and maybe even a red carpet.

It’s Kobe Bryant Night at Staples Center. Both of the legend’s jersey numbers, 24 and 8, are being retired. So while the Warriors are there for the business of defeating the current Lakers, they’ll also be carrying memories of the past.

Win or lose, they will have a chance to enjoy the halftime ceremony. Lakers president Jeanie Buss extended the invitation Saturday, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr plans to accept it.

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Said Nick Young, a former teammate Bryant with the Lakers, of witnessing the ceremony: “That would be dope.”

Most of the Warriors have competed against Bryant, though Kevin Durant and Young have closer associations. Bryant and Durant over time formed a relationship as members of the league’s unofficial superstar club.

Durant has a particularly bittersweet memory from his rookie season with the Seattle SuperSonics in 2007-08, the year Bryant captured his only MVP award.

The Lakers took a 123-121 victory in overtime in Seattle and Durant’s memory of Bryant’s evening -- 48 points, 44 field-goal attempts, game-winning shot -- were perfect. Yet Durant came away feeling he had learned a more valuable lesson.

“It was my first taste of fourth-quarter basketball in the NBA, and (Bryant) fouled me all of the way up until I got the ball,” Durant recalled. “It was a blatant foul, and the referee just stared at him, looked at him, and didn’t call it. I was like, that’s what happens when you’re Kobe and you can do that stuff.

“It was a level I knew I had to get to, and that’s what made me realize that there’s certain players on different levels, and that you have to wait to get to that point. It made me realize it early with Kobe. So it was a great early lesson for me.”

Young, who spent three seasons as Bryant’s teammate in LA, recalled Bryant’s pointed jabs at teammates, unwillingness to tolerate fools and a semi-playful side of the man nicknamed Mamba.

After Bryant’s memorable final game -- a 60-point performance in a 101-96 win over the Jazz on April 13, 2016 -- Young approached Bryant with a pair shoes in hopes of getting an autograph. They were the wrong brand.

Kobe was a Nike guy, Young came with Adidas.

Bryant flipped the shoes into the trash bin.

“That’s Kobe,” Young said, grinning. “I knew something like that was going to happen if I went to him with some Adidas.

“But he did sign some Nikes that I had. And I have that stat sheet.”

Durant, having joined the MVP club in 2014, saw his relationship evolve to the point where they were dinner companions on Bryant’s last trip to Oklahoma City in 2016.

“The stuff we were talking about was next level, just what he wanted to do when he was done playing, his visions as a businessman, how he wanted to leave his mark as a basketball ambassador,” Durant recalled. “There was so much we talked about, and it made me appreciate his intelligent mind.”

Bryant retired as the league’s No. 3 all-time scorer (33,643 points), just ahead of Michael Jordan (32,292) but behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928). Bryant is a five-time NBA champion who was selected for 18 All-Star games. He is a lock to enter the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

And now, 20 months after he retired, his jerseys will be raised into the rafters at Staples Center.

“Kobe is obviously one of my favorite players, one of the best players to play this game,” Young said. “I know I had a chance to play with him, so I would want to see his number go up there.”

For one night, as a retired legend gets top billing, the Warriors don’t mind merely blending into the scenery.

Bob Myers had a mandate for Steve Kerr's phone call with DeMarcus Cousins

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USATSI

Bob Myers had a mandate for Steve Kerr's phone call with DeMarcus Cousins

Over his first five NBA seasons combined, DeMarcus Cousins attempted 69 3-pointers.

He made 11 of them.

In 2015-16, Cousins went 70-for-210 from distance -- 33.3 percent.

In 2016-17, He made 131 of his 363 attempts -- 36.3 percent.

Last season, he shot over 35 percent from deep (104-for-294).

[RELATED: Did the Pelicans offer DeMarcus Cousins a contract? 'Only me and Dell Demps know what was said']

Cousins is a beast in the paint, but the 3-point shot has definitely become a part of his game.

At Cousins' introductory press conference on Thursday, Warriors GM Bob Myers discussed what the four-time All-Star brings to the Warriors.

He also shared a funny story from July 2 -- the day that Cousins to Golden State became a reality.

“It’s a different dimension. It’s not something we’ve ever had, as far as a low post threat, since I’ve been here ... prior to him talking to Steve (Kerr), we had been talking, and Steve said, ‘I want him on the block, we haven’t had that threat, we can give him the ball, we can play off of him.’

"And he said ‘not out on the perimeter.’ And so Steve was about to get on the phone with Demarcus and I said, ‘Don’t tell him that he can’t shoot any 3s. If you let Draymond shoot 3s, you gotta let Demarcus shoot 3s.’ So steve said ‘Maybe one or two.’"

As we all know, Kerr and Draymond have their history when it comes to the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year shooting 3-pointers.

You may remember Kerr's mother saying during the NBA Finals: “I’m no basketball aficionado, but Draymond shouldn’t be taking those three-pointers.

But back to Cousins.

Clearly, Kerr envisions the big man posting up and causing havoc on the block.

So naturally, it's likely that there will be a moment (or two) during the season when Cousins jacks up some triples and Kerr gets frustrated.

Get your popcorn ready!

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Bob Myers provides update on where things stand between Warriors, Pat McCaw

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AP

Bob Myers provides update on where things stand between Warriors, Pat McCaw

In late June, the Warriors extended Pat McCaw a qualifying offer (worth $1,744,951) to make him a restricted free agent.

He is yet to sign an offer sheet with another team.

If he does, the Warriors will have the ability to match.

So where do things stand between McCaw and Golden State?

Warriors GM Bob Myers provided an update when talking to Tim Kawakami on the TK Show podcast:

"We had some good talks in Las Vegas. We want Patrick back, but we understand that it's a process, just like they do. We hope it ends with him coming back as a Warrior.

"That's our focus, that's our goal. Can't say right now what will happen, but that's our hope."

After a promising rookie season, McCaw -- the 38th pick in the 2016 draft -- took a step back last year.

He averaged 4.0 points, 1.4 assists and 0.8 steals over 16.9 minutes per game last season.

The 22-year old shot below 41 percent from the field and below 24 percent from deep.

He missed 13 games in the middle of the season after suffering a wrist injury, and then had the scary fall in Sacramento on March 31.

"We love Pat and we really hope he's back," assistant GM Kirk Lacob said weeks ago. "We'll see how this process plays out."

Stay tuned...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller