Stephen Curry on Kevin Durant: “We’re obviously just getting started”

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OAKLAND — The early betting odds are already out for the 2018 NBA season, and the Golden State Warriors are already heavy favorites — less than even money. Here is what online gambling site Bovada.lv has for the top five:

Golden State Warriors 2/3
Cleveland Cavaliers 3/1
Boston Celtics 12/1
San Antonio Spurs 12/1
Houston Rockets 20/1

When talking about Finals MVP Kevin Durant after the game, Stephen Curry said one title was not the number the pair were thinking about.

“We’re obviously just getting started, this is something that we want to continue to do,” Curry said. “But for us to have these conversations that we had almost a year ago and now being in this position, worth every shot we took in practice, fighting through injuries that he had this year, and it’s an unbelievable feeling. I’m happy for him.

“You got to call Kevin Durant a champ now. He’s put the time in and I’m just so happy for him to be able to realize his goal and be my teammate.”

It wasn’t always smooth, but Durant and Curry figured out how to work as teammates.

“Steph definitely took a back seat to the start the season until he realized we didn’t need him to take a back seat,” Draymond Green said. “We need you to be aggressive as you’re going to be. And when Steph turned that corner, I think it was after Christmas Day, when he turned that corner, we became almost unbeatable. That’s what we needed. So that was this whole thing, who is going to take less shots? Is it going to be Steph, K.D., Klay? None of them. The ball’s going to find who it needs to find at the end of the day, and that’s those three guys.”

That synergy is what fuels concern around the league — how can this team be beaten?

Cleveland is a very good, championship level team that ran through the East without a blip, then lost to these Warriors five games. For the first two games of the Finals, Cleveland was flat-footed, trying to adjust to playing at the pace and level of the Warriors, but the final three games LeBron James and company stood toe-to-toe with the Warriors — and still lost two-of-three of them.

Around the league, teams on the rise in both conferences are thinking a few years down the line with their rebuild, feeling they don’t want to give up quality assets to try to challenge the Warriors (or even LeBron’s Cavaliers) next season. After the Warriors re-sign Curry and Durant this summer, the core of this team will all be under 30 and locked up for two more years. (Things get tricky for the Warriors with Klay Thompson up for a new deal in 2019, then Draymond Green the following year.)  Remember what Lakers’ coach Luke Walton say on Bleacher Report’s “The Full 48” podcast:

“I said ‘if there’s a time to be rebuilding, this is the time to do it.’ The Warriors don’t look like they’re going anywhere for a while. They’re pretty darn good right now….

“My only caution would be let’s not give up too much of our young core for one superstar because, like we just talked about before, let’s not forget that those Golden State Warriors are just a little bit north of us and it’s going to take a lot more than one superstar to dethrone them from the West.”

For a handful of team that are close to the top, such as Houston or San Antonio, teams with elite players in their prime, they need to be thinking about winning right now. They will make moves, get better as fast as they can, and hope a break or two falls their way. One sprained ankle can change a series — just ask Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs.

However, for much of the league, Curry’s sentiment is right — the Warriors are getting started. If you’re a team with one star player, do you really want to sell out a lot of assets to make it two star players without much around them? Where does that put you in the NBA landscape right now?

These Warriors are likely going to win multiple titles with Durant and Curry paired for the next five years through their primes. They are just getting started, and they don’t really care what the rest of the league thinks about it.

One reason Markelle Fultz happy to be Sixers over Celtic? Philadelphia has Chick-fil-As

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For about a month, from the day of the NBA Draft Lottery until less than a week before the draft, it was assumed Markelle Fultz would be a Celtic. And he said he was good with that — he’s the No. 1 pick going to a 53-win team that is thinking title contention. That doesn’t happen often.

Then that top pick was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, and suddenly Fultz was going to be paired with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Fultz liked that a lot, and he liked the city a lot.

Why? Because they have Chick-fil-A restaurants. Check out what Fultz wrote in the The Players’ Tribune, an article titled “What’s Up, Philly.” (Hat tip Inceptions at NBA Reddit)

Then (Fultz’s agent) Keith hit me up and said, “New plan. Philly.”

I was just waking up. So I was like, “O.K., cool. Do they have Chick-fil-A there?”

A crispy chicken sandwich for breakfast. It’s kind of like my good luck charm. Keith never got back to me about that important question. So I found out for myself. I googled it immediately.

Philly does have Chick-fil-A. It has six, actually. Seven if you count the one at the airport. Boston has zero Chick-fil-As, for what it’s worth.

Are restaurants becoming a new recruiting tool? “I know you’re thinking of signing in San Antonio, but we have far more Chipotle’s per capita.” “There’s a Cheesecake Factory just down the street from our practice facility.”

I give it four years, max, before Fultz switches to a slightly healthier breakfast choice, at the requestion of Philly’s training staff.

Warriors newbie Jordan Bell gets call from Draymond Green

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Jordan Bell knows he will most certainly get an earful from Draymond Green come training camp as a Golden State Warriors rookie.

Green came looking for him on draft night with a FaceTime attempt after acquiring his new teammate’s digits from general manager Bob Myers. But Bell – out with friends celebrating – didn’t answer because the number was unfamiliar.

Bell decided he would text back instead.

“I was like, `Who is this?”‘ Bell recalled Friday, when he was formally introduced and given his new No. 2 Golden State jersey at team headquarters.

“He didn’t reply so I called the number and said, `Who is this?’ Then he was like, `Yo, I FaceTimed you, hang up right now and FaceTime me right back, don’t call me,”‘ Bell said. “I FaceTimed him and he didn’t answer. I was like, all right. I waited like five seconds and I called him back FaceTime and he answered … and we started talking about it. He was like, `Enjoy this night, celebrate, it only happens once, but after this time we have to get back to work, we’re trying to get rings over here.”‘

The NBA champions began the night Thursday without a draft pick but acquired Bell in a trade with the Bulls. The 6-foot-9 forward and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year out of Oregon was the 38th overall selection by Chicago.

Bell had been upset he dropped so far in the draft, then everything changed once the Warriors made a move for him. Green was drafted 35th overall out of Michigan State in 2012 and still has a chip on his shoulder about it. In fact, he can name every team in order and its selection above him that draft year.

“Draymond will be a fun challenge for you,” Myers said. “Draymond texted me as I was driving home and he said, `What the’ and then expletive `is your problem’ to me? So you can fill in the blank. Then he said, `I have to hear about this’ expletive `on the internet, you didn’t’ expletive `tell me about it.’ So I couldn’t text and drive so I called him and I said, `OK, all right, calm down.”‘

Green demanded he be able to talk to Bell, so Myers obliged with the new rookie’s contact info.

Green’s teammates are accustomed to his intensity. He even yells at them from time to time.

“He’s like our team mom in a way,” joked Myers. “He’s the one that you have to kind of get through him.”

 

Rumor: Cavaliers could wait to chase Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony after buyouts

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The first reaction to hearing Jimmy Butler was traded to Minnesota on draft night was “the Bulls only got what back?”

The second reaction was “does Dwyane Wade still opt in?”

Yes, he does, and as he said there are 24 million reasons to do so. Hard to argue with that logic. Which leads to the next question: Will the Bulls buy him out? Or, more likely, when will the Bulls buy him out?

Carmelo Anthony could be in the same boat. Phil Jackson wants to trade him but Anthony has a no-trade clause. The number of teams willing to give up anything for ‘Melo where he would waive that clause is very, very limited. You might be able to count them on one finger. And that might be generous. So a buyout could be in order.

Which leads to this interesting note from Brian Windhorst, via Marc Stein, of ESPN.

This makes sense for the Cavaliers. They need roster upgrades and they are capped out. They tried to find a deal to move Kevin Love to get space to chase Jimmy Butler or Paul George, but those three team deals never came together in part because of a lack of trade value for Kevin Love. Adding either or both of these two players to the roster for minimum salaries while giving up nothing is a perfect scenario.

Wade, obviously, has played with LeBron. Even though he is not the player he once was, if his knees are rested he is capable of stretches of fantastic play that can help carry a team. He would be another offensive weapon in a deep arsenal of weapons the Cavaliers have stockpiled.

Anthony would be the same in some ways — he remains a strong scorer in isolation (sets the Cavaliers run more than any other team in the league) and he makes difficult shots. The problem would be elite teams — Golden State, Boston, etc. — could expose his defense against the pick-and-roll. Still, he would be an upgrade if nothing is surrendered for him.

There’s a lot of “what if” still to happen before we get to this. However, the idea of one or both of these guys being in Cavaliers uniforms by the start of next playoffs is not out of the question.

Alec Peters’ tearful reaction to being selected what NBA Draft should be about

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The NBA Draft production in Brooklyn is entertainment. It’s glitz. There’s stage with changing graphics. The NBA Commissioner comes out and announces the picks, then guys who have realized for a while now they would fulfill their dream of playing in the NBA come up on stage in their expensive suits, put on a baseball cap from their new team, shake the Commissioner’s hand, and next get interviewed on national television. It all feels rehearsed and staged, with very little feeling genuine.

I prefer how it went for former Valparaiso star Alec Peters better. He was in his hometown, with family and friends, unsure if his name would be called until just before it happened at spot 54 — and he still didn’t believe it until he heard it.

That is authentic.

The Suns are a good place to land for a young man wanting to develop and prove he belongs in the league. Peters is a 6’9″ power forward who shot 36.9 percent from three. Can he develop into a stretch four/pick-and-pop threat? He’s got a high IQ and will need to prove he can hang with NBA bigs, but he’s going to get his chance.

(Hat tip Ball Don’t Lie)