Warriors, resigned to their fate, smart to be already looking ahead


Warriors, resigned to their fate, smart to be already looking ahead

The Warriors returned home early Saturday morning to the same compromised circumstances they’ve lived since the eighth day of the season, when they were informed that Steph Curry would miss at least the next three months.

That’s when the eighth consecutive trip to the playoffs, a fantasy spread mostly by delusional passengers that jumped aboard the five-year-old bandwagon, was swept off the table and into the fire pit.

The Warriors had to start over. Craft an entirely new blueprint for 2019-20. What they had planned as a partial makeover, a “gap” year that could be tolerated as the youngsters developed, suddenly was a season that would be sacrificed.

With Curry missing most of the season and fellow multiple-time All-Star Klay Thompson possibly sidelined for its entirety, stark realism flooded the hallways and meeting rooms of Chase Center on Halloween. Everywhere except on the court, according to multiple team and league sources, the organization immediately began looking past this season, toward the next and beyond.

It’s rare that a season in any sport is torched in Week 1, but what choice was there? Though the Warriors added D’Angelo Russell, hoping he might offset some of the offense lost with KevIn Durant’s departure (a decision that, according to some, still haunts franchise CEO Joe Lacob) – and, at worst, be of value in trade – they already had seen enough of D-Lo to know he is not equipped to fill the leadership/galvanization void created by Curry’s absence.

No Curry, no chance for the postseason. Again, getting there at all would have required an absurd combination of Warriors magic and rampant misfortune around the Western Conference.

Instead, they are 3-14, with coach Steve Kerr and his nine assistants trying to win (Priority 2) while evaluating the roster to determine which players might fit beyond next April 15 (Priority 1). They have mid-career veterans Alec Burks, Willie Cauley-Stein and Glenn Robinson III, who signed “I’ll show ‘em” one-year contracts, realizing they’re holding a transfer to elsewhere.

They have youngsters like Marquese Chriss, Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole and Omari Spellman ostensibly absorbing the lessons that come with such moral victories as the 113-109 loss to the Jazz on Friday in Salt Lake City that was made close by a stirring comeback that wiped out 90 percent of a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit.

“This team has been fighting since the beginning of the season and, obviously, dealt with a lot of adversity,” Kerr told reporters in Utah. “But this is what we’ve seen, as a staff. It’s what our fans have seen. We’re not winning a lot of games, but we’re competing. And I’m really proud of the guys.”

The Warriors are sold on Paschall, and that was before the rest of the NBA took notice of the second-round draft pick. They believe in Poole, convinced he is one strong game away from his heralded scoring skills coming out of hibernation. They like undrafted point guard Ky Bowman – “I want to keep him,” Kerr said Friday night – but they can’t convert his two-way contract and without making at least one other move.

The franchise that in recent years had such an obscene level of talent it was considered unhealthy for the NBA now owns the worst record in the league is chasing goals and dollars and carrots that won’t exist until next September.

These Warriors have a chance to be the worst ever, which some of the wretched Warriors teams of old would find hard to believe. It’s bad enough that the front office barely watches. There is no need, and no fun to pretend there is.

President/general manager Bob Myers and his comrades, Larry Harris and Mike Dunleavy in particular, are studying miles of video and traveling thousands of miles by air and maybe even spaceship in search of new talent. Myers headed to Australia to scout LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton, according to The Athletic.

[RELATED: Spellman attributes improved shot to fresh haircut]

This is the routine for the next six months, until the May 19 lottery in Chicago. The Warriors will be present for the first time since 2012, when Myers represented the franchise.

No matter who represents the Warriors next May – don’t count out Curry – there will be zero reflection on this season. The focus then will be where it is now and has been since the two-time MVP underwent surgery the day after Halloween.

Looking toward 2020 and beyond. It’s smart, and it’s not as if they have a choice.

Steph Curry omits LeBron James, Kevin Durant from all-time starting five

Steph Curry omits LeBron James, Kevin Durant from all-time starting five

When Stephen Curry's career is all said and done, there's a good chance many of the current younger generations of NBA fans will include him in their all-time starting five. They have seen the game evolve in front of their very own eyes, and no player was more responsible for that transition than the greatest shooter ever.

But Curry's career isn't over yet. Not even close. And as things currently stand, even he wouldn't include himself in his all-time starting five.

On the most recent episode of Showtime's "All the Smoke" with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes, Curry was asked which five players he would nominate for that lofty designation, and it's pretty tough to disagree with his selections.

Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal? Safe to say that squad would be tough to beat. Of course, if there's one thing that the five-man unit is lacking, it's probably a lack of perimeter shooting. Maybe that's how Curry eventually fits in.

It's worth noting that Curry didn't include LeBron James on his list. Of course, if reported rivalries are to be believed, perhaps that explains the omission. Same goes for Kevin Durant, who recently left Curry out of his top-six hardest players to guard in the league. Are these sour grapes being thrown back and forth?

[RELATED: Steph admits he wanted Knicks to draft him instead of Dubs]

It's certainly possible in the modern NBA, but a far more likely explanation is that James and Durant, like Curry, aren't finished yet.

Warriors send Jacob Evans down to G League in order to regain rhythm

Warriors send Jacob Evans down to G League in order to regain rhythm

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jacob Evans has held out hope for improvement for much of the season. For the time being, he'll try to reach the goal in the G League.

The Warriors guard's latest odyssey to Santa Cruz is expected to last until Sunday, providing Evans an opportunity to get more on-court time during an injury-plagued season. 

"This will give him a chance to play bigger minutes," Warriors coach Steve Kerr. "To develop a rhythm."

With the demotion, Evans will miss Friday's matchup against the Indiana Pacers in San Francisco. Instead, he will play Friday evening against the Wisconsin Herd at Kaiser Permanente Arena and Sunday's matchup against the South Bay Lakers. He'll then rejoin the Warriors on the team's upcoming five-game road trip, which starts Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Evans' second season in the NBA has been marred by injury.  A week into the season, he strained his left adductor, costing him 21 games. Last week, he missed three more games after suffering a concussion. All the while, he's shooting just 31 percent from the field and has been supplanted in the rotation by rookie Jordan Poole.

"These last few weeks have been tough, even before injury," Kerr said. He hasn't really been able to get himself going, we haven't been able to help him get going. We feel like this is a perfect time for him to get some playing time."

[RELATED: Warriors' Paschall credits rise to Jay Wright at 'Coaching Corps']

Evans was drafted in 2018 for his defensive acumen. He's struggled to find offensive success this season, averaging just four points despite averaging 10 more minutes per game. However, Kerr remains confident in Evans' long-term development. 

"He's a big, strong, smart defender. He's picked up a lot in his year and a half in the league," Kerr said. "So he's a guy I can trust and count on defensively. But like everybody in this disjointed season, it's been tough for him to find a niche."