Kurt Helin

Stephen Curry: “74 (wins) isn’t really a goal”

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Last season the Warriors made a conscious effort to set a record for most wins in a season — Draymond Green and Stephen Curry in particular pushed for that goal (certainly more than the coaching staff). The players wanted it, the team went after it and got it. Then they didn’t win a title. Whether the push impacted that or not (likely not that much if at all, other factors like Green’s suspension and LeBron’s dominance were bigger factors), however, there is a perception that part of the reason the Warriors couldn’t get over the hump in the Finals was they put too much into the regular season.

So with Kevin Durant in the Bay Area now, are the Warriors going for 74? Curry was asked that in a media event during his ongoing China tour and his answer was posted on the Warriors’ Twitter account.

“74 (wins) isn’t really a goal. If it happens, it happens. All of our energy will be spent on getting ourselves ready for a championship run. We want to have a great regular season obviously, we don’t want to have any slip-ups, but I don’t think coming into the season with the goal of 74 is a good focus. It’s about winning a championship.”

The Warriors are not going to get to 74, or likely over 70 wins this season. For one thing, the addition of Durant and the subtraction of Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and others is going to mean some transition time at the start of the season. Also, just too many things need to go right in terms of health and breaks — all of which seemed to fall the Warriors’ way in the regular season last year. That’s probably not happening again. Finally, the players aren’t going to want it and push for it.

But win 60+ games, get the top seed in the West, and head into the playoffs healthy? Those are good goals for the Warriors, and ones that get them on the path to another title run.

Happy birthday Dennis Scott, here is a look at some highlights

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For a young generation of NBA fans, Dennis Scott is the guy in the suit on NBA TV breaking down games. He’s good at that.

But Dennis Scott the player had about as sweet a shooting stroke as you will ever see. There’s a reason the guy made 1,214 threes in his career (in an era when the shot was not nearly as prevalent as it is today) and he shot 39.7 percent from deep for his career.

Scott turns 48 today, happy birthday sir. As a treat for all of us, we’ve got some Scott highlights to show.

Pau Gasol admits he almost signed with Spurs two seasons ago

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This summer, Pau Gasol signed with the San Antonio Spurs, sliding into the spot vacated by Tim Duncan.

Two years ago, he almost slid into a spot next to Tim Duncan.

During the free agency run of 2014 the buzz around the league was that Gasol was headed to Chicago or San Antonio (nobody thought he would stay with the Lakers after issues he had with Mike D’Antoni). Gasol chose Chicago, which at the time made them look like a real threat in the East (injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah over the past couple years meant the Bulls were not much of a threat to anybody).

In a recent press event in Spain, Gasol admitted he almost chose the Spurs two years ago, translation via Eurohoops.net.

“Two years ago I declined the option of going to the Spurs. Now it was the right time to go to San Antonio”, explained the Spaniard: “Popovich has he told me that I will contribute a lot and along with LaMarcus Aldridge, without Tim Duncan any more, I will be one of the leaders of the team in the front line”.

Two years later, you have to wonder if Gasol regrets choosing the Bulls? He’d never admit it publicly, and there was no way to predict everything that would happen with the Bulls, but someday he may look back on that decision and wonder “what if?”

While everyone is understandably touting the Warriors in the West this season, should they slip the Spurs are right behind them. This is a team that won a franchise-best 67 games last season with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way. Gasol brings them improved offensive skills at the five, although they will miss Duncan quarterbacking the defense. Heading into the season the Spurs are, at worst, the third best team in the NBA and serious title contenders.

And you know Popovich is going to put Gasol in positions that make the Spaniard look five years younger. Because that always seems to happen with the Spurs veterans.

 

Playing for Knicks “means the world” to Joakim Noah, according to his father

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For those that don’t know, Joakim Noah‘s father was a tennis stud. Yannick Noah is a former No. 3 player in the world, he racked up 23 singles titles and 16 doubles titles in his career, and he remains the last Frenchman to win the French Open. Not shockingly, he’s been hanging out in Queens the last week at the U.S. Open.

That’s where George Willis of the New York Post caught up with Yannick to talk about his son, who grew up in New York and this season will play for the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

“It means the world to him,” the elder Noah said of Joakim joining the Knicks. “We used to go to the Garden when he was a kid, watching games, watching Patrick [Ewing] play. To know that he’s going to play in the Garden, we feel so blessed. He’s preparing hard. He has a lot of hope and he can’t wait. And I’ll be there.”

Knicks fans will love him and treat him as one of their own. At least at first. If things go sideways in the Garden, all bets are off.

Some guys can get caught up in the distractions New York offers, but Noah will not have that problem, according to his father.

“He knows the city,” Yannick Noah said. “He was born here. It’s not like he’s coming from the countryside and he’s coming to New York City. He lived here for a long time. Of course, it can be dangerous for an athlete. But he knows and he’s so motivated. It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s going to give all he has for the city.”

If the Knicks can keep their starting five healthy they should be a playoff team in the East. But that’s a big if with Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Noah — there have been a fair amount of injuries in that group in recent years. It’s also going to be interesting to see how that group will play in new coach Jeff Hornacek’s preferred up-tempo style.

But don’t be shocked if Noah has a bit of a bounce back year now that he’s at home. If he can just stay on the court.

Danilo Gallinari says he told Nuggets at deadline he didn’t want to be traded

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As the February trade deadline approached, the Clippers and Celtics were calling the Nuggets. Among the topics, stretch four Danilo Gallinari.

No deal happened, obviously. Gallinari is about to head to camp as a floor-spacing forward for Mike Malone as he tries to build on the culture change and youth movement started to happen last season in the mile high city. That’s the way the Italian wanted it — he told Denver he didn’t want to be traded, something he said at a recent press conference (as transcribed at Denver Stiffs).

“In Denver I am very well, there was a chance last year to go to some other team before the deadline in February, but I refused. If I return to Italy would be back to Olympia but with the intention of winning, I don’t like the idea of nostalgic revisiting”

(Translation courtesy of Bing Translation, and confirmed by individuals who were at the press conference)

To be clear, Gallinari could not block a trade, he does not have a no-trade clause in his deal. If Denver wants to move him, they can. However, it is possible the Nuggets went to him and asked if he wanted to be moved, if they should pursue these avenues, and he said no.

Later in the press conference, Gallinari talked about liking it in Denver.

“I’ve been in the United States for eight years, this will be my ninth season in NBA, I consider myself fortunate to have realized the dream of all children who play basketball. Now my goal is to win something in Denver, I’ve played there for five years now and I love it. I am very well and I hope to win with the Nuggets. Although “Super Teams” are now fashionable such as Golden State and Cleveland, to win in Denver this season will be very difficult for everyone.”

Winning will be difficult because this is such a young team. Emmanuel Mudiay, Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangomez are all 21 and younger. There is real talent in Denver, they could take some big steps forward in a couple of seasons (be patient Nuggets fans), but this season is going to be about development and growth.

Gallinari is the old man of the group, he’s not likely part of the long-term future. Which is why his name will continue to come up in trade rumors. He is set to make $15 million this season, with a $16 million player option next year (he probably will opt out to secure a longer deal). He’s an attractive target for a lot of teams.

Maybe Gallinari will change his mind. Or, maybe the Nuggets will find an offer they like so much they will not ask Gallinari what he thinks. But I’d be surprised if we don’t hear more Gallinari trade talk this coming season.