Going into the season, the Hornets will be quite different from the disappointing group they put out last year. There are seven new players on the roster, including some key rotation players, and it’s going to be a lot of trial-and-error to see which ones play well together and which ones don’t. Head coach Steve Clifford is going to try out a lot of different combinations, including one he brought up in a new interview: a backcourt of Kemba Walker and new signee Jeremy Lin.
From Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
Q: You’ve said you’re intrigued by the potential in playing point guards Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin together. Can you describe your vision for that combination?
It’s always good to have two pick-and-roll players on the floor. That way you can put pressure on the defense at one side, then switch it to the other. That makes more room to play similar to how Golden State does. You’ve got Steph (Curry) on one side, so defenses have to load up there, and then you’ve got Klay Thompson on the other with room to operate.
That’s what Kemba can do for Jeremy and Jeremy can do for Kemba.
It’s an interesting concept, and could work in small doses. Finding minutes for a two-point guard lineup will be tricky for Clifford, who will also be juggling playing time for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nicolas Batum and (if he cracks the rotation) Jeremy Lamb. He’ll have plenty of options to mix and match players in the backcourt and on the wing. Truth be told, both Walker and Lin are probably best suited to be sixth men, instant-offense types. Clifford compared the style of a Walker-Lin backcourt to the Warriors, which makes sense conceptually. But Thompson is a much better defender than both Walker and Lin, which makes it easier play two ball-dominant guards together. But it’s certainly worth trying this out. It’s hard to get a read on what the Hornets’ roster will be at this point, or how effective it can be. They have plenty of talented players, and it will be interesting to see how well they fit together.
It’s the cost of winning titles — the players on your team come up for free agency and want to get paid.
The Warriors locked up Klay Thompson last summer, Draymond Green this summer, and now they are focused on keeping next year’s free agents, too: Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli.
With the salary cap about to spike and at least two-thirds of the NBA expected to have room for at least one max deal, the Warriors could be better just locking guys up at a fair deal now. Warriors GM Bob Myers was on KNBR Radio in the Bay Area and talked extensions a little bit. From Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group:
In the case of Barnes, the question is can the two sides find a number that works for them? If Michael Kidd-Gilchrist just got four-years, $52 million Barnes will want at least that and probably more. The Warriors already have five players making eight digits in salary for the 2016-17 season (Thompson, Green, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry). They are going to be bumping up against the new cap already. If you’re Barnes, do you want to see what the market will bring you next summer than ask the Warriors to match it? That might be the better option for Barnes.
With Bogut nearing the end of his deal (two seasons left), Ezeli has the ability to show the Warriors he can step into that role (guys around the team are high on him) and get paid like it. Right now, the Warriors would love to lock him down at a discount, Ezeli may want to get through the season and let the market set his price.
It’s something to watch. All summer long guys have taken discounts for security, can the Warriors get Barnes and Ezeli to do the same?
Come on Klay Thompson, did Mychal raise a cheater? I don’t think so.
The NBA champ was at the go-kart track and decided to cut a corner. To quote John Lennon, “instant Karma’s gonna get you” and it slapped Thompson right in the face.
By the way, in a recent interview Thompson said he had worked on adding a pump fake to his game this summer — that could be a dynamic addition. Last season defenses started to pay attention to him more and more (not easy with Stephen Curry in the same backcourt, plus a loaded roster), and Thompson saw more of his shots contested. That’s only going to get worse. A move that gets a defender in the air and lets Thompson put the ball on the floor and drive, or draw a foul, would be a great addition.
(Hat tip to Mr. Go Kart Matt Moore at CBS’s Eye on Basketball)
Golden State won its NBA title this year going small — Draymond Green at the five was not something the Cavaliers had an answer for. The two years prior, the Miami Heat won a couple of titles playing Chris Bosh at the five, spacing the floor with his jumpers.
Small ball works. Not for everyone — Green allows the Warriors to go small and not get hurt defensively — but it has proven to work with the right lineups.
Just don’t tell Miami center Hassan Whiteside that.
The Warriors Draymond Green saw that tweet and fired back.
Then they exchanged a couple more barbs.
Whiteside may want to note that the Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies to get to the Finals, and last I checked Marc Gasol was pretty good at scoring inside. Same with Zach Randolph. Didn’t do them any good. To be fair, part of it is the Warriors are versatile — they can go small, play bigger, and they remain very effective on both ends of the floor. But their core identity is smaller and faster.
For two years prior, even Whiteside’s own team leaned small to win — Chris Bosh as the five and LeBron James at the four for long stretches. It’s what created matchup problems for opponents. It’s what worked.
There will always be a place for a skilled big man in the game, but the old basketball adage “tall and good beats small and good” doesn’t always ring true anymore. Not if you have the right smalls.
On Monday, it was reported Stephen Curry had no interest in bolting Golden State when he becomes a free agent in 2017 – “As I am thinking right now, free agency isn’t really appealing to me because I love where I’m at.”
Tuesday Curry took fans’ questions on Facebook and said the same thing (the answer to this questions starts at the 2:30 mark).
“Hopefully not. Hopefully everything works out and I can finish my career here. I’ve probably got like 10 good years left.”
What did you think he would say? He just won a title, and he certainly wouldn’t want to start up the rumor mill for no reason.
Curry is on ]a steal of a deal right now. He will make $11.4 million next season — the 54th highest paid player in the league (according to ESPN’s Marc Stein). The reason is when his contract extension came up, he was still battling the ankle injuries that plagued his early career — nobody was sure if he would get past that and be a steady player. It was a fair deal at the time; he got some security, and the Warriors bet on their star blossoming and having him at well under market value. Golden State won that bet.
Curry is obviously a max player come 2017, and the Warriors will back up the Brinks truck.
Why do max guys leave? Because they see a better chance of winning elsewhere. Including LeBron James (it was part of his decision, a younger core around him). The summer of 2017 is a long way off, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine Curry will look at the Warriors’ roster and think he needs to get out of there to win.
In the summer of 2017 Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, and Derrick Rose all could be free agents, and all of them are more likely to look around than Curry (at least as it seems now). In that environment, you can Curry re-signing with Golden State within minutes of the July 1 free-agent window opening. Well, so long as a lockout doesn’t ruin all of the fun.
(Hat tip Hoops Rumors)