Warriors offer Jimmer Fredette another chance at NBA career redemption

Steve Uhalde

Warriors offer Jimmer Fredette another chance at NBA career redemption

OAKLAND -- Jimmer Fredette sat still as media assembled around him, and he looked beaten, battered and soon-to-be bruised. The former Kings first-round draft pick and BYU supernova had blood-stained shorts, abrasions on his hands and a well-saturated bandage above his right eye after Friday's pre-NBA summer league workout.

“It’s just a battle wound,” Fredette said at the Warriors' training facility. “This was our second summer league practice, and I got hit with a hand. I got cut open a little bit. It’s nothing serious, but it looks cool.”

Maybe it’ll leave a scar. Who knows? Fredette wasn’t sweating it. The NBA already has dished out far worse.

Only the fittest survive this cruel, unrelenting league, and Fredette failed to find footing in Sacramento, Chicago, New Orleans or New York. He absorbed one blow to the ego after another, but he never bowed. Fredette found star power, good money and endorsements over three seasons with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Shanghai Sharks, but he gave it up for a chance to play near his wife and young children the United States.

And, of course, to go another round with the NBA.

“I wanted to give this another chance,” Fredette said. “I believe I’m an NBA player, and I believe I can do great things in this league and help a team in some way. I want to give that one more opportunity, and be with my family and live here. We’ll see what happens.”

That leads us to this opportunity with Golden State. The Phoenix Suns declined Fredette’s option after a late-season cameo, and he quickly pivoted to a Warriors team that desperately needs reliable scoring after injuries decimated their offense outside Steph Curry.

Despite those scientific facts, the Warriors guaranteed Fredette nothing but a shot. It starts with the California Classic Summer League in Sacramento next week and the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas after that.

“I’m trying to make a team,” Fredette said. “I would love to make the Golden State Warriors and help their team as a player and a person, but there’s a lot of people watching summer league. It’s a good opportunity to play, and I’m grateful to the Warriors for giving me that chance.”

It’s a chance to change his NBA reputation during a time when Fredette believes he’s capable of playing great basketball.

Many don’t believe that’s the case, and they’re quick to identify deficiencies. Here are a few from a long list: He’s a limited defender who's often targeted by the opposition. He only can defend certain positions, and can’t switch. He can’t get his shot off, or create good shots without the ball.

“I’ve heard it all, but I keep pushing, keep playing my game and keep getting better,” Fredette said. “I feel like I’m as good as I’ve ever been in my career. I hope to show it here.”

Fredette worked hard to fix those issues in China, and he believes he’s better prepared for this return home to the world’s best league. He sees the Warriors as -- pardon the pun -- a golden opportunity to get back into an NBA rotation.

“They play my style of basketball, going up and down and sharing the ball,” Fredette said. “They shoot a lot of 3s and do things in transition. That fits my game and how I’ve played my whole career. That’s how I’ve made my living.

"I feel like I can do well in that system, and that’s why I wanted to come here and give it a try.”

The 30-year-old hopes this comeback attempt works out, allowing shots at relative redemption after struggling to establish himself here.

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“It has been a journey. There have been a lot of ups and downs throughout my career,” Fredette said. “You have to continue to push forward.

"I’ve had a lot of cool places to play basketball and make great money and play the game that I love. It has been a true blessing, and I’m continuing my journey right now, trying to push forward, see what happens and make the best of the situation I have.”

Bob Myers explains what attracted Warriors to D'Angelo Russell trade

Bob Myers explains what attracted Warriors to D'Angelo Russell trade

The Warriors were about to lose Kevin Durant for nothing.

But then general manager Bob Myers pivoted and pulled out a sign-and-trade to acquire All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell from the Brooklyn Nets for Durant.

The move caught many by surprise and led to speculation that the Warriors only acquired Russell with the intention of flipping him for other assets.

Myers recently rejected the idea that the Warriors acquired Russell just to trade him, and this week, he talked to The Athletic's Tim Kawakami about going into his NBA free agency meeting with Durant, and his mindset once KD told him he was leaving Golden State.

"From that point on, the motivation going in and leaving, obviously leaving, I left with a certainty that [Durant] wasn't coming back," Myers said on The TK Show. "Going in, my job, our job as a front office, is to prepare for what if Kevin does come back and what if Kevin doesn't come back. It wasn't necessarily an immediate pivot to D'Angelo.

"It was 'These are our options if Kevin doesn't come back. What can we do?' And for the people listening, it was simple. Either we do something like we did, which was more aggressive, whether it would have been that or something else, or another formulation of a sign-and-trade or using a huge trade exception or we stand pat and signing a taxpayer mid-level. Those were the two pivot points. We obviously went the way we did."

Russell isn't the game-changing, Hall of Fame talent that Durant is, but he is coming off his first All-Star Game appearance and set career highs in points per game, assists per game, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage last season.

For Myers and the Warriors, there are things to like about what Russell brings to the team.

"The attraction for us was, what's very hard in our business and in any sport is, how do you get a talented, young player?" Myers said. "It's very difficult. How do you do it in my job or the front office? Usually it's through the draft or a trade. And most times you try to trade for a guy that's young and good, you have to give up something that's easier either a guaranteed high pick or a lottery guaranteed pick or a good player or a combination of players. It's hard to do.

"We saw an opportunity to do it. That's why we did it. And that's the direction we went in. The other direction would have been not to do that and stay the course and see where that went. But we chose the path and we're pretty happy with it."

Despite losing Durant, the Warriors were able to replace him with an All-Star caliber player that is just 23 years old.

[RELATED: Russell working with Steve Nash]

Russell, Steph Curry and Draymond Green will have to hold down the fort until Klay Thompson recovers from his torn ACL. Once the five-time All-Star returns, the Warriors will possess one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA.

That's something Myers and Co. definitely have to feel good about.

How Warriors' Bob Myers found positive in final Kevin Durant meeting

How Warriors' Bob Myers found positive in final Kevin Durant meeting

When Kevin Durant elected to leave the Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets when free agency opened June 30, many criticized the way in which the two-time NBA Finals MVP handled his move from coast to coast. 

Prior to his announcement to join the Nets, Durant had Warriors general manager Bob Myers fly out to New York so he could inform him of his decision in person, He did not, however, wait for Steph Curry's plane to land before word of his move to Brooklyn had leaked out. 

While some have been critical of Durant having a face-to-face with Myers just to tell him he would not be choosing to stay with the Warriors, Myers is glad the meeting/goodbye took place.

"Here's what I wanted," Myers told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on "The TK Show" podcast. "Some people I had seen write that he made me fly all the way out there. I enjoy sitting and looking at you. We had a relationship. I like hearing news. I don't think we do enough of this in life. Look at me and tell me what you're thinking. Good, bad, whatever. Let's do it that way.

"I think our relationship had earned that. So for me, even hearing that he wasn't coming back in person, I'd rather have that all day long. And I appreciated that. Some people will say 'Well, you flew to New York to hear he wasn't coming back?' Absolutely. I'd fly to China to talk to him about what he wants to do. He earned that. He deserves that. I wanted that. It also gave me some closure, as far as to hear somebody, to see their body language and hear their conviction and hear all of it, was better for me than what, a text message or an Instagram announcement or a phone call. I don't want that. So I didn't know it until then."

Myers was grateful Durant wanted to talk with him face-to-face and was fully open about his decision to end his chapter with the Warriors.

"He told me to my face, which I appreciated," Myers continued. "I didn't know before then. I had a sense that it might go the other way. But part of me wanted to allow him ... this was a time, as it is with all the players, they don't owe us anything. This is their moment to be a free agent. He doesn't have to tell me. He didn't even have to say anything then. He could have said 'Tune in, I'll let you know' or he could have done whatever he wanted to do. He's earned that.

"So for me, I was hopeful that I'd get an answer and I did. And that's when he chose to give it, which was his prerogative. So when I got there, we talked about a ton of different things, but obviously, it got to that point and he said he wasn't coming back and I asked him for his thoughts and he told me what they were."

Durant's exit from the Bay closed one of the most historic runs in sports.

Since the 2014 NBA MVP arrived in Oakland, the Warriors nearly were unbeatable, winning two NBA championships before losing a third after Durant ruptured his Achilles and Klay Thompson tore his ACL. At full strength with Durant, Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors were the greatest collection of talent in NBA history. A runaway freight train that couldn't be stopped once it went into high gear. A unit that had no problem toying with opponents for long stretches due to sheer boredom before turning it on and blowing the other team away.

[RELATED: Check out Chase Center's progress ahead of Warriors' opener]

Durant will spend the next year rehabbing his Achilles, hoping to make his return to the court in the 2020-21 season, while the Warriors enter the next season unsure of what the future holds. Can Curry, Green and new-addition D'Angelo Russell keep the Warriors alive until Thompson returns from his ACL rehab near the end of the season?

It's a new day in the NBA, but the Warriors and Durant always will have those three historic years.