Warriors excited to be mystery team after years of great expectations


Warriors excited to be mystery team after years of great expectations

SAN FRANCISCO – When the Warriors gather for training camp on Sept. 30, the burden of great expectations will have vanished, replaced by the seductive mystery of what might be possible.

After five consecutive trips to The Finals yielded three championships, the dawn of the 2019-20 season will feature some degree of newness at every level.

Only three players, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, will be in a role similar to recent seasons. Only two coaches, Steve Kerr and Mike Brown, will have the same duties for the third consecutive season.

“Different, right? Different in that going into (the last few seasons) we kind of knew what we had,” general manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. “What it would be, I don’t know.

“But there was also a weight to feeling like we’ve got to win. That’s it. We have to win the championship. We’re supposed to win. With this team, you’re going to win. That was nice, I suppose; I’m not complaining about that. But you realize it can’t last forever. There has to be change. You don’t know how change is going to come. So now we have it."

Change came because All-Star guard Klay Thompson sustained a torn ACL expected to keep him out until at least February and superstar forward Kevin Durant opted out of his contract, triggering a cascade of activity that led to the addition of D’Angelo Russell and the loss of wily veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

“When you have guys like that, that are respected around the NBA, on and off the court, it provides a different respect level,” Looney told NBC Sports Bay Area. “We’re going to miss having that.

“But we have the new old guys now, with Draymond and Steph. They are the new old people on the team. They’ve been great leaders and great mentors the whole time, but Shaun and Andre are tough shoes to fill.”

Don’t look now, Loon, but you, at 23 years old, with 204 NBA games on your resume, suddenly must become a leader.

Russell, 17 days younger than Looney and with zero games as a Warrior, suddenly is essential to any chance of the team having early success.

“Walking into the locker room and seeing Andre and Shaun, and those guys that have been there for so long, it was comforting to know that whatever was coming our way, we had people that have dealt with it, or could,” Myers said.

“Now, you’re look around and I’m more or less hoping. Can some of our new guys be those guys? Steph, Klay, Draymond and Kevon are going to have to take on more of that role.”

Curry and Green have indeed been tone-setters for at least five seasons -- Curry leading mostly with humor and by example, Green opting for a more clinical route, punctuated by a blowtorch. Thompson leads mostly by embodying a commitment level his teammates aspire to reach.

After adding three rookies with varying levels of experience and different skills, the Warriors consider camp and the first two months of the season a training ground for guard Jordan Poole (20 years old, a capable scorer), forward Alen Smailagic (19 years old, NBA readiness still in question) and forward Eric Paschall (22, considered the team’s most NBA-ready rookie).

“What can they do?” Myers wondered. “Are they better than we thought? Are they worse? Are these young guys evolving? How do they fit together? Will we play the same style? This imposes a lot of new questions.

“It’s a new movie, it’s new actors. But the stars of the show are some of the same guys.”

The hearts of Curry and Green are warmed by the team’s new underdog status and tend to thrive under those circumstances. Thompson also embraces it. The guess here is that Russell, back in California two years after the Lakers traded to Brooklyn, also wants to make a statement.

[RELATED: Lacob still confident new-look Warriors can win NBA Finals]

Though no one can replace Durant, Russell gives them a shooter they’ll need while Thompson is rehabbing. Poole is showing he’s yet another shooter. Once Thompson returns, he can expect plenty of minutes at small forward, with Curry and Russell manning the guard spots.

The Warriors have spent this summer reloading on the sly. The success of the reload is in question, as are all such undertakings, but the internal excitement about it is real.

Should that excitement continue after seeing the “new” Warriors play defense, they’ll really be onto something.

LeBron James mentions Steph Curry, clowns in cryptic Instagram post

LeBron James mentions Steph Curry, clowns in cryptic Instagram post

LeBron James did not play in the Warriors-Lakers preseason game Monday night in Los Angeles.

But about 80 minutes before the opening tip at Staples Center, the three-time NBA champion created headlines when he spoke to the media regarding the drama between the NBA, China and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

Then about five minutes before the game started, he sent out two tweets:

Before the fourth quarter began, LeBron and Warriors superstar Steph Curry exchanged pleasantries:

After Tuesday's practice, LeBron said he feels like his pregame comments were taken out of context:

About 45 minutes later, he took to Instagram:

Are "they" -- the clowns that is -- the media in general or anybody who disagreed with what he said? Both?

Why send that message to Curry? 

[RELATEDHow security man Walker shocked Steph with Warriors return]

Does LeBron realize he sounded foolish when he told reporters that he believes Morey "was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it," and immediately followed that with: "I have no idea, but that is just my belief."

Is he aware that the backlash is self-inflicted?

Are you sick of this whole story?

Let's move on.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

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Steve Kerr hopes Kevon Looney will play in Warriors' season opener

Steve Kerr hopes Kevon Looney will play in Warriors' season opener

Well, this isn't exactly the Kevon Looney update you were hoping for.

Steve Kerr announced after practice Tuesday that the Warriors big man will not play against the Lakers on Wednesday or Friday.

Looney tweaked his hamstring 13 days ago and missed Golden State's first three preseason games.

At Media Day, Kerr told reporters that he has big plans for the 23-year-old and is planning on playing him around 30 minutes per night.

Willie Cauley-Stein -- who was projected to start at center -- has missed all of traning camp and is expected to be sidelined the first couple regular season games.

Without these two, the Dubs are getting crushed on the glass.

[RELATEDLooney shares details of ongoing chest injury rehab]

At this point, it would be very surprising if Marquese Chriss isn't on the Opening Night roster.

The 22-year-old is averaging 10.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 blocks during the preseason. He's also a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.

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