Andre Iguodala out at least a week and a half, Andrew Bogut one game

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Andre Iguodala has helped turn the Golden State Warriors from a dangerous lower seed into a legitimate championship contender.

At 42-26, the Warriors are at least on pace for their best record since 1992. Their defense has reached unprecedented levels in Oakland, and their offense is full of talent.

Iguodala is central to both sides of the court for Golden State, so this is a pretty concerning setback.

The Warriors can probably survive their next two games, vs. Orlando tonight and vs. Milwaukee on Thursday, without Iguodala. The third game, vs. San Antonio, will be much more challenging.

They’re just a different team when Iguodala plays.

Iguodala on:

  • Offensive rating: 109.4
  • Defensive rating: 96.2
  • Net rating: +13.1

Iguodala off:

  • Offensive rating: 98.4
  • Defensive rating: 103.6
  • Net rating: -5.2

Part of the discrepancy is due to Iguodala playing so much – 55 percent of his minutes – with Golden State’s other starters (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Davie Lee and Andrew Bogut). That lineup has been the most productive of the NBA’s 38 most-used lineups.

  • Offensive rating: 112.2
  • Defensive rating: 97.1
  • Net rating: +15.2

Harrison Barnes will replace Iguodala in the starting lineup, and despite his powerful name recognition and remaining potential, Barnes just isn’t having a strong year. That shows in his lack of chemistry when playing with Curry, Thompson, Lee and Bogut. With Barnes replacing Iguodala, that lineup is considerably worse on both sides of the ball:

  • Offensive rating: 97.1
  • Defensive rating: 104.5
  • Net rating: -7.3

At least Golden State has five days off following this three-game stretch. That could give Iguodala a chance to heal.

If only the Warriors’ problems ended there, though.

Andrew Bogut is also out against the Magic tonight.

When Iguodala and Bogut, the Warriors’ top two defenders, are off the court, they allow 106.8 points per 100 possessions, according to nbawowy. For reference, that falls to 102.0 for Golden State overall this season and 98.8 when both play.

Fortunately for the Warriors, the anemic Magic offense probably can’t take advantage (even if Orlando has won six of seven at Golden State).

If this is just the Warriors being precautious during a long season, that makes sense. They’re 3.5 games behind Houston for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs and 3.5 games ahead of Phoenix for the final postseason spot. This is the right time to rest players, especially considering the lengthy break after the Spurs game would give Iguodala a long stretch to recharge his batteries.

But if these injuries, especially the more-serious-sounding Iguodala’s, are more significant, they could pose major setbacks for Golden State’s title aspirations.

Kyrie Irving, teammate of 12-year-veteran Al Horford: Celtics need 14- or 15-year veteran for leadership

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The Celtics just had a 1-4 road trip, the lone win coming in overtime against the lowly Suns. Most Boston players (except Marcus Morris and, lately, Kyrie Irving) look out of sorts offensively.

Irving, via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:

Looking at this locker room, me being in my eighth year and being a ‘veteran’ as well as Al [Horford] and [Aron] Baynes. Right now I think it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year vet, a 14-year vet that could kind of help us race along the regular season and understand it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint, when you want to play, when you want to do what you want to do.

Al Horford is in his 12th season. His team, the Hawks then Celtics, have made the playoffs every season of his career.

I’m not sure Irving intended this as a slight of Horford. Irving certainly didn’t forget about Horford, whom Irving mentioned the sentence prior.

But I’d definitely understand if Horford felt slighted. He’s experienced enough to provide that veteran leadership. So is Irving for that matter.

Ultimately, these comments might prove benign, just more weird words from Irving. Still, they’re potentially significant enough to keep an eye on Boston’s leadership situation.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns: ‘I’m not one of the most important [players on the team]. I’m just a piece on this team’

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Jimmy Butler made the Timberwolves his team. He willed himself into being their best player despite having teammates with more talent and physical skills. He took a leadership position by talking over everyone (for better or worse). He even asked for top-contract status with a renegotiation-and-extension that would have required gutting the rest of the roster.

With Butler traded to the 76ers, who takes up the mantle in Minnesota?

Karl-Anthony Towns is the logical candidate. He’s now the Timberwolves’ best player. He just signed a max contract extension that will hit super-max salaries if he makes an All-NBA team this season. He’s even already one of Minnesota’s longest-tenured players.

Kent Youngblood of the StarTribune:

Karl-Anthony Towns took issue with the idea that, with Butler gone, he had to become the team’s leader.

“First of all, I’m not one of the most important [players on the team],’’ he said. “I’m just a piece on this team. Everyone is just as important as the next. So if everyone’s doing their job and everyone is working hard, doing the little things, we make a great product.

Somewhere, Butler is cackling, assured his doubts about Towns were correct.

But leading isn’t for everyone. That doesn’t make non-leaders bad people. The world needs followers, too.

That said, things generally flow much more smoothly on teams where the best player is the main leader. It creates an orderly culture. If Towns doesn’t want that role, it’ll be something for the Timberwolves to overcome.

Maybe Towns, 22, will grow into it. There’s still plenty of time left for him to develop both as a player and person.

But Butler’s exit created a natural entrance for Towns into leadership. Towns could have seamlessly seized the reigns right here. That he isn’t shows how far he is as a leader.

Warriors: Stephen Curry to miss at least five more games

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As once-simmering issues between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant boil over, the Warriors could use a stabilizing force.

But Golden State’s best player and someone who has demonstrated his willingness to place team goals ahead of his personal agenda – Stephen Curry – continues to miss time with a groin injury.

Warriors release:

Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who has missed the team’s last three (3) games after suffering a mild to moderate strained left groin on November 8 vs. Milwaukee, continues to be monitored and evaluated by the team’s training and medical staff, as indicated initially last week. He will travel on the team’s upcoming three-game road trip to Texas—but will not play—and will be re-evaluated again in 10 days.

In the next 10 days, Golden State plays:

  • at Rockets
  • at Mavericks
  • at Spurs
  • vs. Thunder
  • vs. Trail Blazers

That’s not an easy stretch.

Remember, this latest Green-Durant feud started only because the Warriors were in a tight game against the Clippers. Green and Durant disliked the other’s strategy on the final play of regulation and argued about it. In a blowout win, that never would have happened.

Handling those high-pressure situations can be good for teams in the long run. But Golden State needs a break. This is already too much adversity all at once.

But the positive vibes that come with winning will be harder to attain with Curry out.

Report: Jimmy Butler won’t ‘coddle’ Markelle Fultz

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Jimmy Butler showed little patience for Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns with the Timberwolves. To Butler, Wiggins didn’t work hard enough and Towns was too soft. Butler wasn’t afraid to admonish his teammates for their shortcomings, either. I believe Butler intended good, lighting fires under Wiggins and Towns that would drive them to greatness with the same intensity he used to rise. But Butler actually just alienated them.

Now, Butler joins the 76ers, who have another former No. 1 pick not meeting expectations – Markelle Fultz. Butler already praised Fultz’s work ethic and noted how much he respects that.

But how will Butler actually treat Fultz?

Undisputed:

If this is someone who knows how Butler treated Towns and Wiggins and is just assuming how Butler will treat Fultz, this is worthless. Anyone who knows even a little about Butler could make that guess.

But if this is someone who spoke to Butler about Fultz specifically, this would carry massive significance.

Fultz is unique. He shot well in college then had his form completely fall apart before his rookie year. He doesn’t need tough love. He needs someone to help him assess the underlying trauma beneath his problems. He needs to be built up and develop confidence.

That wasn’t at all Butler’s approach with other teammates. Maybe Butler will adjust to Fultz’s atypical circumstances. I hope he does.

But the possibility of Butler worsening Fultz’s issues can’t be overlooked.