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.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.