Warriors lowering bar, expectations with uncertain future looming

Warriors lowering bar, expectations with uncertain future looming

The Warriors are quietly, subtly but suitably warning their fans that the goal is shrinking, that next season will be about dialing it back, with excitement focused on “where” rather than “who.”

This hardly is what team executives were visualizing over the past 30 months while sinking copious amounts of money and time into Chase Center. They imagined opening the doors to Year 6 of the platinum age, with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the rest of a stellar cast established as the most powerful force in the NBA.

A Warriors game in Year 1 at Chase was to be the hottest ticket in American sports, a perfect convergence of brilliant basketball, crackling atmosphere and dazzling backdrop.

Instead, 2019-2020 will be a season of transformation. The loss of Klay Thompson and Durant -- whether temporary or permanent -- as members of the home team forced the franchise to face the mortality of this era and, therefore, pivot toward refreshing the roster.

“Next year will be a totally different approach after spending the past two seasons giving our guys rest,” said one source with knowledge of the team’s thinking. “Now it’s all about bringing these young guys along and throwing them into the fire.”

That explains the two trades on draft night, which resulted in the Warriors moving up in the second round to select teenage big man Alen Smailagic and later moving up again, with an additional pick, to grab Villanova power forward Eric Paschall. Both will join first-round pick Jordan Poole in trying to earn minutes as rookies.

The Warriors want first-year production out of this group. Moreover, they need it.

When president/general manager Bob Myers was asked before the draft what the team’s biggest need was, he dropped a clue:

“Good young players, whatever position they are. Those players have the most value in the NBA. Rookie-contract players that show themselves to have a skill and can play.

"Maybe next year we afford more opportunity for who we pick. Maybe we get a guy who can step in. We will have more opportunity next year. No matter what happens in free agency, we’ll have more of an opportunity for a young guy.”

The Warriors actually wanted to get younger last summer but weren’t able to, partly because young wing Patrick McCaw wanted out, partly because rookie wing Jacob Evans III couldn’t stay in the NBA, much less crack the rotation, and partly because skilled veteran center DeMarcus Cousins surprisingly offered himself at a bargain price and the franchise couldn’t resist.

This time, they don’t have much choice. The original core -- Draymond Green, Curry and Thompson -- still are very much in their primes, between ages 29 and 31, but they don’t have much behind them. The Warriors since 2012 have drafted one rotation player, Kevon Looney, and he’s an unrestricted free agent they hope to re-sign.

Andre Iguodala is 35, with one season remaining on his contract. Shaun Livingston, with only a partially guaranteed deal, has played 14 seasons and might retire.

So, yes, the Warriors have to get younger. And that comes with bumps and bruises.

The Warriors enter this weekend with a lineup that looks like this: Curry and Evans at guard, Iguodala and Green at forward, and Damian Jones at center. That’s the beginning and end of players with guaranteed contracts.

There are no reserves -- not yet -- and none can be identified until rookies and free agents are signed. Though a trade is possible, finding one that will make the Warriors better by opening night would require creative wisdom beyond genius.

[RELATED: Here are 15 nightmare scenarios for Warriors in NBA free agency]

With consistent talk about changes beyond the roster, expect changes in the coaching staff beyond replacing former player development coach Willie Green, who is headed to Phoenix. There likely will be new roles for those who remain.

The hopes of January 2017, when Durant grabbed a shovel to join co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber in breaking ground at the Chase Center site, have faded from dreamy to practical. Reality beckons, and it’s unforgiving -- though the arena will be magnificent.

Andre Iguodala describes Steph Curry's amazing hand-eye coordination

Andre Iguodala describes Steph Curry's amazing hand-eye coordination

We all know how much Andre Iguodala loves Steph Curry.

The former Warriors forward has repeatedly said the two-time NBA MVP is the second best point guard of all-time Magic Johnson.

After Game 2 of last season's NBA Finals against the Raptors, Iguodala said he's all for anything that protects Curry's legacy.

On Thursday morning, Iguodala once again was singing Curry's praises.

"Steph's got something else. Anybody seen The Accountant? Steph's like that. He's good at everything," the 35-year-old said on Hot 97 radio. "Hand-eye coordination. He probably could shoot somebody from 1,000 feet away.

"I've seen him throw darts. I've seen him bowl like 250. Ping-pong. Golf, he could play pro in real life. He can throw a fastball 80 miles per hour, right down the middle.

"He's got this hand-eye thing that's freakish."

[RELATED: Iguodala discusses NBA future, won't be like Vince Carter]

Wait. Steph can't hit 95 miles per hour on the radar gun? Lame.

Also, looks like I need to go watch the movie The Accountant.

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Lakers center JaVale McGee tricks Warriors before dunk in preseason game


Lakers center JaVale McGee tricks Warriors before dunk in preseason game

JaVale McGee pulled a sneaky one from his bag of tricks Wednesday night against his old team. 

In the third quarter of the Warriors' 126-93 preseason loss to the Lakers at Staples Center, McGee began limping and grabbing his left knee. Within about three or four seconds, it seemed his antics became clear: JaVale was faking an injury. 

The Lakers center went from crouched out of bounds to back in play in a flash to catch a pass from fellow big man Anthony Davis and throw down a dunk. McGee couldn't help but laugh at the expense of his former Golden State teammates. 

But on Thursday, McGee claimed he thought he actually was injured. 

After chuckling about the play, McGee told reporters, "I hit my knee, I really hit my knee. And it hurt. I went out of bounds and I saw Draymond guarding AD and I was like, forget the pain, I'm gonna go get these buckets. So I ran back in and got a dunk.

"But I really did bump my knee." 

McGee didn't seem to be in any pain running back on defense, however, only he knows how his body truly felt.

[RELATED: What Draymond was right -- and wrong -- about in Suns rant]

If he was faking an injury, that kind of tomfoolery might seem illegal at first, but in reality, McGee looks like a genius who perfectly knows the rule book. Section XV of the NBA rule book states: "An offensive player shall not leave the playing area of the court without returning immediately and cannot repeatedly leave and re-enter the court." There are exceptions, though, the first of which comes from an injury. 

While the Lakers have been dominating the Warriors in the preseason, McGee has been catching up on his reading. The Dubs, and the rest of the NBA, surely will have their eyes on JaVale goes down.