One NBA source who has made the China trip with a team put it to me this way, “Every owner wants their team to do it once, then they see the impact and don’t want to go again.” It takes weeks, maybe months, to really get a team right again after training camp is interrupted to go play a couple of games halfway around the world.
The NBA’s annual trip to send a couple of teams to China is about business — basketball is booming in the world’s most populous nation, and the NBA wants to own that market. The Warriors with their superstars – specifically Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — are perfect for the NBA’s marketing vehicle. This is good for the Warriors brand, it helps guys sell shoes (including Klay Thompson, who is with China-based Anta), and it’s good for the NBA.
But the Warriors are concerned about the cost and spoke about it with Sam Amick of the USA Today.
“It’s a great trip, a great experience, but this is not the way to prepare for the season,” said Kerr, who has joked that he might be on the hot seat now that his team is 0-2 in the preseason. “But that’s alright. We’ll have about a week when we get back (before opening against Houston on Oct. 17), and I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
NBA players like routine and this disrupts it. Draymond Green, as he tends to be, was more direct.
“I mean at the end of the day, my overall health probably will take a step back,” Green told USA TODAY Sports about the effect of the trip. “Your conditioning, and eating the right things (are negatively affected). You head into the season, and you kind of want to tune your body up and eat healthy and this, that, and the other. So all those things that’s conducive to playing basketball take a hit….
“You start to risk injury and all of those things, so we have a pretty professional team. Guys get their work in, but it’s still nothing like actual practicing and that tempo. It’s more a risk of injury than the season. We’ll figure it out over the season.”
The Warriors weren’t planning to chase 73 wins again anyway. How the younger, less experienced Timberwolves deal with it is another question. Does it set them back to start the season?
It’s nothing that’s going to change — the NBA is going to keep going to China. It’s going to keep expanding its reach there, and is on the lookout for the next Chinese player who can stick in the NBA and be a hero at home (ala Yao Ming). The NBA is in business with China.
But in a shortened preseason, it’s fair to wonder how this trip will impact teams that start the season.