Warriors

Why John Oliver name-dropped Warriors' Marquese Chriss in NBA-China monologue

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USATSI

Why John Oliver name-dropped Warriors' Marquese Chriss in NBA-China monologue

Warriors big man Marquese Chriss has been the talk of training camp, but he apparently caught the eye of comedian John Oliver -- or his writers room -- long before that. 

On Sunday's episode of "Last Week Tonight" on HBO, Oliver recapped China's backlash against the NBA following Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's since-deleted tweet in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. Oliver called China's uproar over Morey's tweet "absurd," before facetiously criticizing Morey for letting Chriss go in a trade last season. 

"You wanna be angry at him, how about the fact he traded away power forward Marquese Chriss as part of a three-team deal with the Kings and Cavaliers back in February?" Oliver joked. "Chriss is [6-foot-10] with a 7-foot wingspan, plays way above the rim and can mix it up in the post. Yes, granted, he's had his issues on the Suns -- I'm not denying that. But he's the exact type of athletic big man that could have balanced out [Russell Westbrook and James Harden] especially when he's coming off the bench for P.J. Tucker.

"What I'm saying, Daryl, is your tweet about Hong Kong was totally fine -- nothing to apologize for there -- but when it comes to Marquese Chriss, you f----d up, Daryl!"

Oliver then quipped he wasn't "even a Rockets fan," but one of "competent midseason roster moves."

The Warriors signed Chriss to a non-guaranteed contract in September. The No. 8 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft has impressed his Golden State teammates and coaches, providing the Warriors size up front and rebounding -- two things they've lacked in the preseason with much of their frontcourt banged up. 

During the segment, Oliver criticized the NBA for its handling of the aftermath of Morey's tweet, which Morey walked back and the league apologized for. Following the league's apology, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that Morey "enjoys that right [to freedom of speech] as one of our employees." Chinese state broadcaster CCTV did not show a pair of the league's preseason games played in China last week. 

[RELATED: What we learned in Dubs' second preseason loss to Lakers]

Oliver noted that "the NBA has put itself in a tight spot," but contended that the league would be unable to navigate out of it. In wrapping up the segment, he invoked Chriss once more. 

"And the reality is here that the NBA can either have a commitment to free speech, or they can have guaranteed access to the Chinese market, but they cannot have both," Oliver argued. "This will not be the last time that they'll be forced to choose, and my fear is they'll trade one for the other -- which would be the worst trade since Daryl Morey shipped out Marquese Chriss."

How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

How Warriors are affected by EuroLeague canceling rest of 2019-20 season

While the NBA is inching closer to resuming the 2019-20 season, Europe's top league decided not to pursue the same avenue.

The EuroLeague announced Monday that it was canceling the remainder of its 2019-20 season.

Each EuroLeague team had played 28 of their 34 regular-season games.

Ordinarily, the EuroLeague ending its season wouldn't be news for the Warriors and their fans.

But 2020 has been a completely different year for the Warriors. Mired in a 15-50 season, Golden State will have a top-5 pick in this year's NBA draft.

That means 19-year-old Israeli prospect Deni Avdija, who plays for Maccabi Tel-Aviv, is on the Warriors' radar. NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole reported at the end of April that the Warriors have traveled to Europe to take a look at Avdija, who could be a top-5 draft pick.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

With the Warriors missing the playoffs this season, the team was going to use the unexpected free time in May to go scout prospects in Europe. Coach Steve Kerr reportedly was supposed to go watch Killian Hayes and Théo Maledon, while Kent Lacob, director of team development, was going to scout Avdija. But the coronavirus pandemic forced the Warriors to cancel those travel plans.

Due to travel restrictions, the Warriors likely wouldn't have been able to send anyone to watch Avdija play in the final six EuroLeague games had they been played, but they could have at least gotten six more games worth of film on him.

Now, they will have to form their opinion of Avdija with the in-person scouting they've already done and the film they have on hand.

In 21 games this season against Israel Basketball Super League competition, Avdija averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 26.6 minutes.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft 7.0]

Avdija hasn't gotten as much playing time in the EuroLeague, so his numbers aren't great. In 26 games against better competition, he's averaging 4.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 14.2 minutes.

We don't know when the NBA will hold the 2020 draft, but if the Warriors select Avdija, we'll know that they saw enough of him before the coronavirus put a stop to basketball around the world.

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Michael Jordan-Steph Curry 'The Match' pairing posed by Colin Cowherd

Sunday’s “The Match,” featuring a showdown between NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady along with PGA icons Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods was a smashing success. The event raised $20 million for coronavirus relief in the United States, and was the highest-rated golf event in cable television history.

The access and humorous trash talk throughout has led many to speculate as to which duo from sports could be part of the next iteration of the event. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd discussed this on Monday and posed some interesting potential pairings.

"Michael has always let it be known that he's pretty good at golf," Cowherd said. "Steph is easily the best current NBA golfer, that I would pay to see."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Steph Curry tweeted Sunday that he’d like to be included next time around, and sure enough Cowherd first mentioned a duel between the Warriors star and another NBA icon with North Carolina roots in Michael Jordan. MJ was shown to play golf frequently throughout his NBA career during ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” and continues to be a fan of the sport.

Curry is an avid golf fan and was glued to his television Sunday during “The Match.” He’s played in some professional golf events in the past, and always is among the best current athletes at the celebrity-laden American Century Championship each summer in Lake Tahoe.

Given MJ’s propensity to trash talk during his historic NBA career, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be trading barbs constantly with Curry. Steph’s confidence never has been in question and he likely would have plenty of fun going back and forth with Jordan.

[RELATED: Who Warriors fans think Steph Curry should team up with in 'The Match']

Throwing a couple PGA pros in, especially two who are avid NBA fans could make for some great conversation. As we saw throughout Sunday’s foursome, Mickelson and Woods were more than willing to engage and dish out some one-liners.

MJ likely wouldn’t be thrilled about being mic’d up for an entire round with no editorial control. But if both parties would be willing, this would be the most highly-anticipated event in the history of golf.

Plus we finally could settle that pesky debate of which team was more dominant between Curry’s 2016-17 Warriors and Jordan’s 1995-96 Bulls.