Warriors notes: Altering Jacob Evans' shot, Mike Dunleavy Jr. returns


Warriors notes: Altering Jacob Evans' shot, Mike Dunleavy Jr. returns

OAKLAND -- The Warriors are tossing Jacob Evans III into the alteration department, where they hope his jump shot will find a way to fit in the NBA.

Evans’ J surely looked like an ill fit in Summer League. He shot 15.4 percent beyond the arc and 34.5 percent overall, leading observers to question his accuracy.

“His shot looked flat in Summer League,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice Wednesday. “He’s focused on getting that thing up and trying to get more arc, trying to get more rotation, a little smoother shot. He can be a good shooter, but it always takes time.”

Selected by the Warriors in the first round, 28th overall, in June, Evans posted solid shooting numbers at the University of Cincinnati. His greatest asset, though, was his defense and general court sense.

“On offense, he’s got a good feel,” Kerr said. “He understands the game really well. He’s a good passer, a good cutter, and I like what he’s doing shooting the ball. He’s putting a lot of arc on the ball.”

With the team’s qualifying offer to Pat McCaw continuing to gather dust, Evans might see some floor time Saturday, when the Warriors open their preseason scheduled against the Timberwolves at Oracle Arena.

Like it or not, he’s back

One of the least popular players in Warriors history has reconnected with the team. Mike Dunleavy Jr. is back, this time as a scout.

“It seems like a lifetime ago that I was here,” said Dunleavy, who the franchise drafted third overall in 2002. “But I was a Warrior, and it’s fun to be back. I’ve always rooted for them. It’s been fun to follow the last five or six years. I’m excited to be a part of it now.”

Dunleavy’s new job as partly the result of his relationship with Warriors general manager Bob Myers. Dunleavy was among Myers’ clients when he was an agent.

Considered a disappointment, if not a bust, with Warriors, Dunleavy quickly became the No. 1 magnet for frustrated fans. No Warrior over the last quarter century has been objected to more scorn, derision and boos at Oracle Arena.

“They pay money, they can do whatever they want,” Dunleavy told the Oakland Tribune in 2006. “It doesn’t bother me. I’ve dealt with it. It’s not a big deal. Quite frankly, I’m used to it. It’s kind of a laughing matter now. It’s like, ‘How quickly can I get into the game and they start booing?’ Lately I’ve been pretty good, because once I’ve hit the scorer’s table (to check in), I’ve been getting them.”

Dunleavy was traded two months after those comments, going to Indiana with Ike Diogu, Troy Murphy and Keith McLeod in exchange for Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Josh Powell. That deal set the roster that became the “We Believe” Warriors.

Dunleavy played for six NBA teams before retiring last year. He will operate predominantly on the East Coast.

The ‘weirdest night of the season

For the second straight season, the Warriors will open at home with a pregame ceremony during which they will be presented championship rings.

Stephen Curry is a major reason the team has earned these rings, their third piece of finger jewelry in four seasons. He likes collecting the rings. The ceremony, however, is a bit of a challenge.

“The ring ceremony is honestly the weirdest night of the year,” Curry said. “Because you’re celebrating something that happened four months ago. And then you’ve got to appreciate the moment, see the banner fall, feel the energy from the crowd.

“And then you’ve got to put the rings back, go warm up for two-and-a-half minutes and then play an NBA basketball when the other team is salivating, waiting to get ahold of you after seeing the ring ceremony.”

The ceremony will take place at Oracle on Oct. 16, prior to tipoff against the Oklahoma City Thunder, aka Kevin Durant’s former team. The Warriors are 1-1 on ring ceremony night, beating the Pelicans in 2015 but losing to the Rockets in 2017.

When it was pointed out that Kerr will be receiving his eighth ring -- five as a player, three as a coach -- Curry had one response.

“I’m inspired.”

Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

For the final regular-season game in Oracle Arena history, Warriors star Steph Curry arrived rocking a No. 8 Monta Ellis jersey.

"Obviously, a lot of history that Monta was able to be a part of with the 'We Believe' Warriors era, and when I got here my rookie year, he was that guy," Curry told reporters back on April 7. "And I think for me, in terms of representing him on the last game, it meant a lot because we were in that backcourt together. 

"When he was traded it was a tough time in terms of the transition of the organization and things like that. I wanted to pay, obviously, honor to him in terms of his story, coming out of high school and doing what he was able to do. He was an Oakland fan, Warrior fan. Beloved guy."

Shortly after he got wind of Curry's gesture, Monta reacted on Instagram. But he recently expanded on his feelings.

"The biggest thing that I always wanted to do, like, when I leave this Earth, is know that I impacted somebody in some shape or form, no matter if it was on or off the basketball court," he told Marcus Thompson of The Athletic. "That’s my biggest thing.

"So to hear that from him, man, it just means I did what I was supposed to do. I made an impact on somebody’s life before I left here.”

During the 2009-10 season -- Curry's rookie campaign -- Ellis averaged a career-high 25.5 points per game.

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The following year, he racked up 24.1 points and 5.6 assists per contest, while Curry registered 18.6 points and 5.8 assists per night.

Although Monta was disappointed with how the franchise handled his trade to Milwaukee in March 2012, he has nothing but love for Dub Nation.

“That’s my second home,” he told Thompson. “I love Oakland. The fans are like no other. I’ve never seen any other fans in America like Oracle.”

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Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Steve Kerr knew this season would be different, how could he not?

Still, even the Warriors head coach couldn't have predicted how drastically different his sixth season in the Bay would be. 

Kevin Durant left to become a Net. Klay Thompson likely will miss the entire season rehabbing his torn ACL. Then, Steph Curry broke his left hand and will be re-evaluated in February and D'Angelo Russell missed nine of the first 21 games with a thumb sprain. This has left Kerr to lead a group of rookies, role players and reclamation projects through the NBA season.

Dynasties aren't built to last. Kerr, a six-time NBA champion as a player and coach, knows that. He knows how fleeting championship runs can be. The Warriors have gone from dreaded bully thirsting for June champagne to a champion laying on the canvas as a 12-month recharge washes over them.

“No,” Kerr laughed when NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson asked if he thought anyone savored last season's run when he told them to. “It’s human nature to think we’re going to win it again and we’re going to keep going forever. Life changes quickly.

“I talked not only to the media and our fans but to our team. Last year there were several times when I said, ‘This is going to be our best chance to win a championship.’ We’ve got an incredible opportunity that may never come up again. That’s something that’s important for everybody to realize---fans, management, players. It is lightning in a bottle. You can do everything perfectly and you still may not get to where you think you might be.”

The Warriors will be back. That's the plan at least. This season serves as a reboot point. A mere pitstop in a dynasty that has been paused not concluded.

But plans, even those best laid, rarely go as drawn up. Kerr knows that. That's why he implored everyone from Curry to those sitting in the nosebleeds at Oracle Arena to enjoy one of the most impressive runs in NBA history.

You never know when things will come back, and things surely never will be the way they were when Curry and Warriors were pulverizing teams into oblivion en route to five-straight NBA Finals appearances.

That ride, as Kerr predicted, came to an end.

A new one has begun.

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The Warriors sit at 4-19. Rookies Eric Paschall and Ky Bowman have played well, as has veteran swingman Glenn Robinson III. But it's unlikely to amount to many wins this season. It's instead about teaching, about growth for next season when a fully loaded Warriors team will enact its vengeance on an NBA that is taking pleasure in pummeling the wounded champions. 

That will be a sweet moment for Kerr and the Warriors, should it come.

Pleasure, in sports and in life is, fleeting. Titles come. Confetti falls. Elation hits. Then, it's on to next year, and one day, before you've blinked, things are different. The run is over and a new course has been charted.

That course is expected to get the Warriors back to the top soon. If it does, expect everyone to heed Kerr's advice and enjoy the ride.