Why Warriors won't walk away from injured Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson

Why Warriors won't walk away from injured Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson

OAKLAND — Not for a fraction of a second could the Warriors consider turning the page on Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Not after what those two men have done for the franchise.

Moreover, not after what the franchise has done to itself.

The Warriors are among the elite franchises in sports because when the current owners took over in 2010, they immediately began stressing quality and culture. They insisted on a standard and have remained committed to it.

That’s what it took to rinse away the stains of what the Warriors once were and rebrand them well enough to become a destination.

They can’t give that up now, not when they’re months away from moving into the cash cow that is Chase Center. Durant and Thompson have done enough to earn max deals, and the Warriors are smart enough to recognize that.

“We value those guys at the highest level,” president/general manager Bob Myers said Friday. “I wouldn’t be a very good GM if I didn’t understand how valuable they are to our own team.

“They’re both fantastic. Those are guys that you do everything you can to keep within your organization.”

The only reason the futures of Durant and Thompson are in question — at least outside the organization — is because both are headed for free agency, and both sustained injuries over the last few days that could impact their appeal, if not their effectiveness.

Durant underwent surgery Wednesday to repair his right Achilles tendon, which ruptured Monday night during Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto. He is expected to miss roughly one year.

Thompson incurred a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Thursday night in Game 6, in which the Raptors prevailed to win the NBA championship. He will miss most of next season.

Paying players who can’t be expected to perform until 2020-21 might seem wasteful, but it also sends a message that makes its way around the NBA. In short, it says the Warriors take care of their players.

That’s how you dig a franchise out of the kind of hole the Warriors were in before Joe Lacob and Peter Guber assembled a group to buy the team from former owner Chris Cohan, who watched the bottom line much more closely than he did the product.

Lacob, the team’s CEO, didn’t specifically address Durant and Thompson late Thursday night, but he made it clear that he’s not willing to dial down standards or expectations.

“It’s been a great seven-year playoff run and five-year Finals run,” Lacob said after the Game 6 loss. “We have a lot to be proud of. We’ll figure out a way. You can rest assured we’ll figure out a way to be very competitive going forward.”

That’s where the Warriors are these days. That’s how they think. Nothing less than the best.

They realize the slightest notion of walking away from two All-Stars because they’re “damaged goods” would send the Warriors back to where they were 10 years ago, when the playoffs were a pipe dream and the league’s best players wanted no part of the franchise.

Durant chose the Warriors over the Celtics, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Thunder. The Warriors made themselves a destination at the very same time Durant was in his prime.

KD turns 31 in September and will be 32 when he returns. Thompson turned 29 in March and will be 30 when he’s able to suit up. They own multiple championship rings and should be able to chase a few more — if they remain teammates.

“Those guys are highly important to us and deserving of being rewarded in the right manner,” Myers said.

[RELATED: Kerr, Myers address KD's future]

“It’s hard to find high quality people, and both of them are that. You try to keep those guys within these walls the best you can.”

If that means eating $70 million or more — the combined salaries of Durant and Thompson — next season, so be it. The product might be temporarily compromised, but the positive image will remain intact. In the NBA, that’s worth more than money.

Steph Curry jokingly enlists Phil Mickelson's help with calf workouts


Steph Curry jokingly enlists Phil Mickelson's help with calf workouts

A few things can be said about Phil Mickelson without debate: He's one of the best and most creative golfers of all-time, he's not afraid to take chances, he has famous calves and now is one of Twitter's best follows. 

Noted golf fan Steph Curry undoubtedly knows all of this, and therefore he reached out to the five-time major champion on Twitter to see if he was doing his calf raises correctly. 

Mickelson couldn't give the two-time NBA MVP a passing grade, but he did offer in-person lessons next week in Napa where the two will be pair together in the Safeway Open pro-am.

Curry, of course, was game.

Mickelson, who sent shockwaves through social media with his recent trimmed frame, also suggested they do some core work.

But Curry has the "dropping bombs" part covered.

To Lefty, that was good enough.

We must protect Phil at all costs, especially after he offered to fill in for Tom Brady after the Patriots quarterback missed practice with a calf injury.

Never change, Phil.

[RELATED: Curry primed for return to MVP form]

One thing's for sure, next week's pro-am should have some great social-media content from Lefty. Maybe we'll even get a Phireside with Phil featuring Steph.

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Steph Curry primed for another MVP season after Warriors' roster change

Steph Curry primed for another MVP season after Warriors' roster change

Forty months ago, Stephen Curry stood on a makeshift podium at Oracle Arena staring intently at his second straight MVP trophy.

In the months leading prior, Curry had put together one of the most efficient scoring seasons ever, earning the first unanimous MVP in league history while leading Golden State to a league-record 73 wins.

More than three years later, on a team with eight new faces and Klay Thompson out for the majority of the season, Curry is on fertile ground to replicate the best season of his career, and if you let him tell it, the thought has crossed his mind.

"At the end of the day, winning an MVP would be special," Curry said in a recent interview with Rachel Nichols on ESPN's "The Jump." "And it's something that -- I've experienced before and would love to experience again.

"I'd love to push the envelope," Curry added as he showed Nichols around the recently opened Chase Center -- the Warriors' new San Francisco home. "Push the limits a little bit."

With that in mind, Curry enters his eleventh season under semi-similar circumstances as he did in his illustrious second MVP campaign.

The Warriors were months removed from the 2015 NBA title and Curry was tasked with carrying the biggest offensive burden in the league.

Over the 82-game schedule, Curry had the highest player efficiency rating since 1991, while leading the league in 3-pointers made (402), steals (169), win-shares (17.9) and value over replacement (9.8) while finishing second in usage.

For the Warriors to stay afloat this season, a similar offensive load will be expected for Curry.

Two months ago, Kevin Durant opted to join the Brooklyn Nets in a sign-and-trade, prompting a restructuring in Golden State that brought eight new players to the roster, including all-star guard D'Angelo Russell. Adding to the conundrum, Thompson -- who tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in June -- will be out for the majority of the season.

Under the current roster structure, the Warriors need Curry to be historically great once again, something he seems to be aware of.

"I always say, I'm playing like I'm the best player on the floor no matter what the situation is," Curry told Nichols. "That's my mentality. It might not mean I'm taking every shot, but that's the aggressiveness that I need to play with and the confidence I need to have."

The key to Curry's season will be his health. Over the last two seasons, Curry has missed a combined 44 games due to injury, including 31 during the 2017-18 season. Last season, it was a non-contact groin injury that forced the guard to miss more than two weeks. The season before, a series of ankle injuries undermined one of the best statistical seasons of his career, as he missed the most games since 2012 when ankle surgery ended his season.

[RELATED: Steph responds to KD's belief Warriors never accepted him]

If his health holds up, Curry should lead the MVP conversation for much of the season, and he could be staring at his third Maurice Podoloff Trophy next summer.