Kurt Helin

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings

Kerr spends championship summer recovering from two back surgeries

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Steve Kerr had hoped to be able to spend the offseason savoring the NBA championship he won in his first year as coach of the Golden State Warriors.

Instead, Kerr spent most of the abbreviated summer on his back recovering from a pair of back surgeries.

“To be honest the last couple of months stunk for me,” Kerr said Friday. “I’m not kidding. I’ve had a rough go physically this summer. It has not been fun. It wasn’t the summer I was envisioning after winning the title, thinking this is the greatest thing ever. It’s been a rough go.”

Kerr said he originally tweaked his back during Game 5 of the NBA Finals in June. He had surgery after the season and then there were complications. Kerr said he feels much better now but will take a “back seat” to his assistants once training camp starts next week in order to stay off his feet and make sure he can make it through the season without more problems.

Kerr won’t be the only one taking things a little easier this training camp compared to last year as the Warriors deal with the shorter offseason after playing until June 16 when they won the NBA title by beating Cleveland in Game 6.

Kerr said there will be no two-a-day practices when camp starts Tuesday and he will be mindful of both the mental and physical fatigue from the shorter offseason.

He has already noticed a difference in his players from last year at this time when many arrived at the beginning of September trying to shake off a first-round loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

That has not been the case this year, which is perfectly fine with Kerr.

“I don’t want them burning themselves out,” he said. “The mentality changes a bit. Part of it is a deeper level of confidence. But what you have to be wary of is feeling too happy, feeling like there’s nothing left to accomplish which obviously isn’t the case.”

In other news, the team announced that two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash has been hired as a player development consultant. Nash will spend about three days with the team next week in training camp and will join the Warriors periodically throughout the season.

Nash and Kerr have a history together with the Phoenix Suns when Kerr was general manager and Nash the star point guard. Kerr called Nash the “most innovative” athlete he had ever seen and said he had an “amazing feel for the game, an amazing mind.”

“Steve was the most efficient player I’ve ever been around,” Kerr said. “My hope is he can help make our guys more efficient and I think he will.”

Golden State also announced that guard Ben Gordon will join the team training camp on a tryout basis. Gordon became a free agent this summer after Orlando declined his option. The 32-year-old Gordon has averaged 14.9 points per game for his career and is a 40 percent shooter from 3-point range.

The Warriors have one open roster spot.

“He’s a proven scorer, a proven shooter,” Kerr said. “He’s at an age where he should be able to play. Physically he looks good. We’ll give him a chance. No guarantees of anything.”

NOTES: GM Bob Myers said the team is in extension talks with Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli. But Myers said if deals happen, they wouldn’t come until closer to the deadline at the end of October. … The Warriors also signed Gs Ian Clark and Juwan Staten and Fs Tony Mitchell and Jarell Eddie and invited them to camp. Golden State will have 20 players in camp when Gordon arrives next week.

DeAndre Jordan: playing in Dallas “like any other road game”

DeAndre Jordan
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Nov. 11 is going to be must-watch NBA television. First, LaMarcus Aldridge returns to Portland as a member of the Spurs, and I bet he gets a warm reception.

Then later that night, DeAndre Jordan leads the Clippers into Dallas — and that reception is going to be a little different. It’s going to rain boos like a hurricane. Of course, you remember this summer Jordan said he was going to play for the Mavericks, then had second thoughts and ultimately re-signed with the Clippers. That has led to Chandler Parsons saying Jordan wasn’t ready to be a franchise player. Mavs owner Mark Cuban wanted nothing to do with Jordan’s twitter apology.

So is Jordan worried about going to Dallas in November? Not so much, he told Ben Blotch of the Los Angeles Times.

Sure it will. Like In-‘n-Out is just another hamburger.

Some things stand out, and you can be sure this game is going to stand out. Jordan ultimately made the best decision for himself (and happened to make more money in the process), but that doesn’t mean Mavs fans have to be happy about it. And they are going to let Jordan know how they feel in no uncertain terms.

Klay Thompson on Bucks not drafting him: “I thank God every day”

Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2015 - Arrivals
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Klay Thompson almost didn’t fall to the Warriors with the 11th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Milwaukee had the No. 10 pick and were thinking shooting, but they entered a three-team trade with Sacramento and Charlotte — the Bucks drafted Jimmer Fredette and sent him to the Kings with John Salmons and ultimately got out of it Tobias Harris, Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, and Beno Udrih.

Thompson was drafted by the Warriors at No. 11 and the rest is history — they eventually moved Monte Ellis to make room for the Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson backcourt that just won the Warriors an NBA title.

Is Thompson happy the Bucks didn’t snap him up? Via Diamond Leung of the Bay Area Group.

Some Bucks fans are about to go all Col. Nathan Jessep on this news, but the reality is what did you expect him to say after just winning a title? He’s in a city where it never snows, has great food that isn’t deep fried, he’s closer to his father (based in LA), and he’s on a team set up to contend for the next five years at least (that’s as far as you can see into the NBA future, if even that far). You can’t blame the guy for being happy where he landed.

Bucks fans, win a title in five years and everyone will be saying the same thing about Milwaukee.

Pierce accepts smaller role, questions if Kobe can

Paul Pierce
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Paul Pierce is not going to see heavy minutes with the Clippers — he may even come off the bench behind Wesley Johnson (I think that’s a terrible idea, but that’s a different topic for another day). He’ll play some three and some four, but at age 38 when the season starts, what he’s going to do most is rest. The premise is simple, what matters is a healthy Pierce when the Clippers enter the playoffs.

Pierce said again he’s good with that on the Fred Roggin Show on the Beast 980 in Los Angeles — and then took a little shot at Kobe Bryant.

If your audio player isn’t working, here’s the quote:

“That will be tough on some guys in L.A. to take on that role *cough* Kobe *cough* I mean, you know, but um, we get older.”

Kobe is willing to play fewer minutes; he understands that at age 37 coming off a few major injuries he’s got to take care of himself. Byron Scott threw himself on the sword for overplaying Kobe last season, but the dynamic between Kobe and Lakers’ coaches means he deserves some of this blame too. But that’s beside the point.

Pierce is joking about something plenty of people around the NBA are wondering:

Can Kobe accept a smaller role? To take the ball out of his hands for stretches so D'Angelo Russell can learn through mistakes? To let the offense run through Jordan Clarkson? Can he be a real mentor to the next generation of Lakers?

Expect the superior Clippers team to take a lot of shots at the Lakers this season. They are the better team, and they are going to make sure everyone in LA knows it.

Anthony Bennett clears waivers; Raptors likely destination

Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz
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Anthony Bennett is going to be on an NBA roster this season — likely back in his native Canada.

But no team wanted to pay him $5.8 million to be on their roster this season. Maybe more importantly, no team wanted to decide by Oct. 31 if they were going to pay him $7.3 million next season. So he has cleared waivers and is now a free agent, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

That makes him a free agent. Portland and Philadelphia have interest in him, but Toronto appears to be the frontrunner to land him.

The Raptors have 14 guaranteed contracts on the books, they can add one more. This will be a league minimum deal (or very close to it).

Bennett becomes the first No. 1 pick ever not to make it to the third year of his rookie contract before being released. The usual reaction is to call him a bust, but the reality is this was the Cavaliers’ mistake on draft night — most teams had Bennett in the 7-12 range on their boards (a few had him much lower), but the Cavaliers rolled the dice and took him with the top pick. That’s on them, not him.

That said, it’s too early to completely give up on him. Bennett is just 22 and entering his third NBA season, and while he’s never going to be a star it is possible he could develop into a solid rotation player. He’s shown flashes of quality play before — he did for team Canada this summer at FIBA Americas — but he hasn’t been able to sustain that into the NBA regular season. He also battled injuries, which impacted his conditioning.

If that’s behind him, he’s worth a roll of the dice on a minimum deal. Toronto has Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola at the four, there are minutes to be had if Bennett can earn them.

This summer, Canadian national team coach and Blazers assistant Jay Triano gave Bennett excellent advice — simplify the game, find a thing or two you’re good at and focus on just that. Bennett can rebound, he can run the floor, and if Toronto can bring him along this “bust” can help them. If not, no big cost.