SAN FRANCISCO -- Some news is impossible to deliver with honey, for no matter its conveyance it’s a straight punch to the gut.
Steve Kerr delivered four of them Friday night.
Minutes after the Warriors rolled to a 119-97 victory over the Trail Blazers in the preseason finale, Kerr informed forward-center Jordan Bell and guards Avery Bradley, Mychal Mulder and Gary Payton II that they were being waived.
No matter what Kerr might have said, how could any of them not hear three of the most dreaded words in sports: Not good enough.
What it means for all four is that they are now free to pursue a job elsewhere in the NBA, or perhaps overseas. Wherever there is an invitation. It’s conceivable that one could return to the Warriors.
For now, though, it means the Warriors plan to open the season with 14 players on the roster, leaving the 15th and final available slot open. For now.
“We’ll be discussing that the next few days,” Kerr said.
There was some logical belief that the Warriors would keep either Bradley or Payton, as both bring a level of on-ball defense that is superior to the other guards on the roster. As it stands, there is no defensive specialist, so to speak, on the roster.
In a Western Conference deep in dangerous guards -- Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, etc. -- there is considerable risk in not having a defender with a junkyard-dog mentality.
Which is why there will be discussion and why the Warriors won’t dismiss the possibility of one of the recently-waived players returning, notably either Payton and Bradley.
“It was very difficult to release all of those guys,” Kerr said. “They’re all NBA players.
“Avery, obviously, has put together a great career. He’s healthy. He played really well, especially once he got his legs underneath him. Mike Mulder has helped us the last couple years. He’s a wonderful teammate and competitor. Jordan Bell, it was really fun to have him here. He’s grown up a lot, on and off the floor. He had a great camp. Same with Gary.”
One factor that influenced this decision is the growing belief that Moses Moody might be able to offer some of that as a rookie. It’s unlikely he’ll be in the regular rotation -- which could be said of any of those who were cut -- but he could be called up for specific occasions.
Another factor is that Andre Iguodala, who will be in the rotation, remains a highly credible defender -- but can’t be expected to be a night-after-night stopper.
Of the 14 players under standard NBA contracts, five are guards: Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, Chris Chiozza (two-way contract) and Klay Thompson, who will miss at least the first six weeks of the season.
The door remains open for another, as it should be at this time.