Warriors

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Warriors

OAKLAND -- At the mention of the most relevant non-injury question related to the Warriors, Steve Kerr treats the subject like an IRS bill he’ll eventually have to pay.

“It’s not even something that we have to address,” Kerr said the other day.

On the same subject, Kerr’s boss, general manager Bob Myers, also goes into full procrastination mode.

“We’ll sit down at the end of this regular season,” Myers told 95.7 FM The Game on Wednesday, “and decide what our playoff roster should look like.”

Ah, yes, the playoff roster. Neither Kerr nor Myers is sharing details -- on whether Quinn Cook will be included -- because they don’t have to, don’t need to and are smart enough to avoid the fallout sure to follow a premature announcement.

Understand, though, Kerr and Myers realize they have to add Cook. The young point guard has earned it on merit and out of potential need.

Since replacing the injured Stephen Curry in the starting lineup March 9, Cook is averaging 16.3 points per game on 52.7-percent shooting, including 43.3 percent from deep. Over the last three games, as Cook grew comfortable with his role, those numbers rose to 24.3, 60.4 and 54.5.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all what Quinn’s doing,“ Kerr said. “We watched him in the G-League all year, lighting it up. We watched him in practice here; he’s one of our best shooters. And all of a sudden he’s playing 40 minutes? This is what he can do.”

 

“We kept telling him, go get 20. Go get 25. We need that. If you look at our roster without the guys that we have, he should be our leading scorer. That’s what he does.”

Yet the Warriors wisely will delay any announcement as long as possible. They can wait as late as April 11, the last day an NBA contract can be signed and be effective for this season. They have until noon April 13 to submit the postseason roster.

Cook, as a two-way player, doesn’t possess a standard NBA contract. He can only be added to the postseason roster if the Warriors create an opening. Someone on the current 15-man roster, holding a guaranteed contract, would have to be released before additions can be made.

No one is more vulnerable in that regard than Omri Casspi, who has been in and out of the lineup more than anyone else mostly as a result of inconsistent play, poor defense and nagging injuries. The veteran fell out of the rotation in January and was relegated mostly to blowout minutes before a cluster of injuries struck the team.

The Warriors have become increasingly reluctant to play him in crucial moments, and the playoffs are all about crucial moments.

The only other candidate is center Damian Jones, who almost certainly won’t play in the postseason. He spent nearly all season with G-League Santa Cruz, but remains on the team’s radar beyond this season. The Warriors aren’t certain he’s a keeper, but they’ve exercised the option to bring him back next season.

Which brings us back to Casspi, the veteran forward who signed a one-year contract last July. The Warriors are not invested in him beyond this season.

The team is moderately invested in Cook. His two-way contract runs through next season. Off what he has shown this season, particularly in recent games, he’s a strong candidate to swap the two-way pact for a standard NBA deal next season.

“He’s been great for us,” Myers told 95.7 The Game. “The future will be interesting. We like him a lot.”

Cook, who turns 25 on Friday, is the most dynamic point guard on the roster not named Stephen Curry. In the wake of Curry’s recurrent ankle woes this season, Kerr and Myers are acutely aware of the value in having someone comfortable sharing the load at the point with veteran Shaun Livingston. You may remember last year, when the Warriors were desperate enough to sign 35-year-old Jose Calderon for a similar role.

Cook is, at this time, more valuable than either Casspi or Jones. Or Calderon.

“We’re setting the roster going into the playoffs and make the best decision that allows us to win,” Myers said. “(CEO Joe Lacob) has made it clear. One thing about Joe . . . it’s about that. That’s the only directive he gives. Go win.

“Steve’s the coach. He’s the boss. He’s the captain of that ship, as far as what the roster should look like going into the playoffs.”

 

Cook’s fine work and Curry’s cranky ankle have brought the Warriors to this place. They have roughly three weeks to make the call or, rather, officially announce it.