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Steve Kerr says Andre Iguodala pranked him about leaving for Kings

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All is well in a land of the Golden State Warriors. The 2018 NBA champs celebrated in Oakland today with their championship parade. Meanwhile, stories about the Warriors are beginning to trickle out of Golden State, including one about Andre Iguodala‘s free agency in 2017.

Iguodala had many suitors that summer, including the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings, in addition to the Warriors. According to Golden State coach Steve Kerr, Iguodala apparently pranked the Warriors coach by setting up a conference call with him and GM Bob Myers to let them know that he was going to head to Sacramento.

Speaking on Zach Lowe’s podcast on Tuesday, Kerr told the story about Iguodala’s joke.

Via The Lowe Post:

I was never really that worried. I guess Sacramento was involved, and they were offering him a big deal. Typical Andre, he decided to play a joke on Bob and me. He got us on a conference call and told us he was going to go to Sacramento. We wished him well and he’s like, “I gotcha suckers, I’m coming back.”

We know that there were some things happening behind the scenes in the Warriors organization that David West hinted about — some things that might not be exactly all peaches and cream. This seems relatively harmless, but no doubt we will hear more stories about the intricacies of this team and the people behind it as the days move along through summer.

Apparently Iguodala didn’t catch Kerr by surprise for too long, and his ruse only stood up for a few seconds until they figured out the Warriors guard was going to return to the team. Still, to have that kind of relationship and trust between a player and front office folks is pretty surprising. You don’t hear about two many players pranking their general managers during free agency.

Warriors’ GM Bob Myers will give Kevin Durant new deal he wants

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Warriors general manager Bob Myers expects swift negotiations to re-sign two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant and coach Steve Kerr.

Durant could sign for as long as four years and about $160 million, and Myers is prepared to give him “whatever he wants.” Durant has said all along he wants to stay put, especially after winning a pair of championships in his first two seasons with Golden State.

“Sometimes you don’t negotiate. I’d love to have him for 10 years. Kevin Durant, look what he did for us last year, he did us a great service,” Myers said. “He’s earned the right to sign whatever deal he wants. I just want him to sign a deal. But want him to be happy and want him to know that we want him as long as he wants to be here. He’s earned that, to kind of lay out the terms. He can do whatever he wants. That shouldn’t be a long negotiation. Our goal, to be honest, is to try to keep the whole thing together, so that’s the pieces of the puzzle we’ve got to try to figure out.”

Kerr has one year remaining on his original five-year contract, so he would receive a multiyear extension – and Kerr wants to coach Golden State for the long haul, perhaps for another decade if he can.

He doesn’t expect any difficulties in getting a deal worked out.

“We’ll get that done pretty quick, I don’t think it’ll be much to it,” Kerr said.

Myers wants to keep as much of the core of the two-time defending champions intact while also realizing the Warriors will be a younger team without the same veteran presence as the group that just swept LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to finish the finals Friday. Working to try to extend the contracts of Draymond Green and Klay Thompson could be discussed as well.

“Sure, guys have proven they can win so you want to keep that group together,” Myers said. “I have no idea how that’ll play out. It’s a lot of different conversations that have to take place and if that’s something that we want to look into I’m sure we could have those – Klay’s got another year, Draymond’s got two more. Kevin’s really the free agent we have to focus on.”

After a regular season that was anything but steady, with Stephen Curry limited by injuries to 51 regular-season games, losing seven of 10 late, all four All-Stars out at the same time for health reasons, the Warriors on Tuesday will again host that victory parade in downtown Oakland they planned for all along – their third in four years.

Kerr stayed healthy and on the bench while continuing to deal with symptoms stemming from a pair of back surgeries following the 2015 title.

“I’m sure if you’re around our players and talk to them, they make no bones about it, they love playing for him and they love going through this journey with him,” Myers said of Kerr.

Key reserve David West is contemplating retirement, telling Kerr and Myers during exit interviews he will take some time to decide.

West said after the title clincher that the team went through things behind the scenes that would be surprising if revealed.

“I don’t know if anything would really blow your mind but it was a difficult season and there were lots of moments where it became more difficult,” Kerr said. “I didn’t think it was anything unusual given the state of our team, what we’ve been through and the length of this journey. Nothing to me was that, like, shocking but yeah we went through some stuff. … For sure this was the toughest of the four (years).”

Myers also downplayed any tension or turmoil that took place privately.

“Certain challenges, some were apparent, some not,” Myers said.

Kerr plans to take it easy for the next several months and not work much as Myers handles the contracts and money, while leaving summer league coaching duties to Willie Green.

It’s still sinking in for Kerr just how much success the Warriors have had during this four-year stretch since he became coach ahead of the 2014-15 season.

“I never could have envisioned this. I know when I took this job I thought we could be really good,” Kerr said. “I could never have dreamt of three titles in four years. It’s pretty incredible to be a part of the group and the organization.”

 

Golden State is a dynasty, but how long can they keep it up?

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CLEVELAND — Dynasty.

That word gets thrown around too casually in sports. However, we can legitimately use it referencing these Golden State Warriors, especially after Friday night when they held the Larry O’Brien Trophy aloft for the third time in four years (and they won 73 games and went to a Game 7 of the Finals the one year they didn’t pick up a ring). The team has everything a dynasty needs. It has the banners — and now back-to-back titles. It has the legendary players that will help define a generation in the league — Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. It has players who can put ego aside and do what is best for the team, who can handle a regular season filled with injuries and uneven play with their eye on the big prize at the end.

The Warriors are a dominant force that will enter next season — regardless of what happens this summer in free agency — as the team to beat. They have set the bar to clear — LeBron James may be on the move again because he needs a better situation to challenge these Warriors. The only question that seems left:

How many more years can they keep this up?

“We want to keep this thing going as long as we can,” Curry said, although understandably the Warriors’ players didn’t want to discuss the future as much as celebrate the present Friday night.

“Any question that kind of talks about the future and whatnot, you don’t want to cheat the moment,” Curry added. “So we’ll have plenty of time over the summer to talk about what next year’s going to look like and what it’s going to take for us to get back to this stage next year.”

What it’s going to take to keep these Warriors rolling is to keep their core four together.

Right now, none of them are pushing to get out the door and have a team of their own — Durant has said he’ll re-sign with the Warriors and Klay Thompson said he’d take a discount to stay. Those two were considered the most likely to want to step out on their own according to sources around the league. If they stay, the Warriors remain a force for years.

That’s because none of those core guys are old — Curry just turned 30 in March and Durant will do the same before next season starts, while Green and Thompson are 27. They are at their peak and will be for another four or five years. Andre Iguodala is 34, but aside that the heart of their rotation is not old — and GM Bob Myers keeps finding guys such as Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw who can help now while on their rookie contracts. There will be changes in the role players around the core — they likely lose Kevon Looney in free agency this summer and probably David West, but they will have the taxpayer midlevel exception to add someone — but so long as the core is together this team will contend.

The challenge is financial — all four of those core guys are max contract players. At what point do the Warriors’ owners balk at the cost?

Curry got his max last summer (after being on one of the most cap-friendly contracts in the league), but also last year Durant took nearly $10 million less than he could have to help the team keep Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Shooting down some odd speculation in the media (or maybe wishful thinking in some quarters), Durant said he will re-sign with Golden State this summer. However, he will not take that discount again, he will get his max starting at $35 million and the only question is how long the contract is for (four years, or does he take a one-plus-one so he is fully vested and can re-sign a five-year Bird rights deal with the Warriors next summer?).

Thompson is a free agent in 2019 and has talked about taking a discount to help keep the team together (probably not an extension, though, where he would leave as much as $80 million total on the table, he will just take less than the max in 2019). In 2020, Green will come up for a new deal that starts at $25 million.

The Warriors are in the luxury tax now ($32.7 million this season) and in the 2019-20 season will go into the repeater tax, jumping that bill up even higher — in 2020 they could pay $150 million or more in luxury tax, with a total team salary bill north of $320 million (that’s nearly double what they paid this season, already the highest salaried team in the NBA).

The Warriors owners have said they are willing to pay the tax for a winner (moving into a new building in San Francisco in a couple of years will help, that will open up revenue streams). Look at what Warriors’ co-owner Joe Lacob told the Athletic this week.

“I tell Bob (Myers, Warriors GM) every day, our job is not to let it end. It may change, just like we changed when we added Kevin and (let go of) some really good players that won the championship in ’15.

“So we have to recognize that and be willing to make some changes each year that are required. Some will be of our doing and some will sort of be handed to us….

“What I’d love for us to be able to do is have a Spurs-like 20-year run of being very consistently good and competing for championships, and that’s my job.”

A Spurs-like run of sustained excellence requires a lot of things to go right. It requires a little luck, too. The Warriors organization, however, is in as good a position as any team to do it.

Back to our original question: How many more years can they keep this up?

The Warriors aren’t going anywhere for the next three to five years at least — this dynasty has won three titles in four years, but it could be five-in-seven, six-in-nine, or more when all is said and done.

And if ownership gets its wish, the Warriors will not be done then.

David West: Public has ‘no clue’ about Warriors’ behind-the-scenes issues

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The Warriors just won their second straight championship and third in four years. They have staked a credible claim as the greatest team of all-time. Their stars – Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – are young enough to keep the title window open years ahead.

So, all is right with Golden State?

Maybe not, David West and Shaun Livingston indicate.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Marcus Thompson of The Athletic:

West is essentially bragging – and inviting reporters to dig deeper now. Perhaps, whatever he’s alluding to will come out.

Durant, Green and even Curry have more complex personalities than often acknowledged. I can see how there’d be conflict.

But the Warriors have a strong culture and a lot of talent, the latter important because winning cures nearly all ills. Problems that would sink other teams are less likely to undermine the Warriors.

Mainly, I just want to know the details of what West is talking about.

It’s not just the stars: Cavaliers don’t have the role players to match Warriors

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LeBron James played well again in Game 2 on Sunday night against the Golden State Warriors. The Cleveland Cavaliers star followed up his 51-point performance in the Game 1 with a near triple-double of 29 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds.

Still, it just wasn’t enough.

Despite double-digit contributions from three other starters and reasonable shooting percentages throughout most of the game, the supporting cast for the Cavaliers could not measure up to the intensity brought by the reigning world champions. Even worse, three players attributed with 49 of Cleveland’s most vital bench minutes combined for just nine points. Those players — Kyle Korver, Jeff Green, and Larry Nance — collectively shot 2-of-11 with 10 rebounds and three assists.

Meanwhile, despite lacking Andre Iguodala, the Warriors’ supporting cast was what you’d expect from such a disciplined squad. David West grabbed a few rebounds, dished a couple assists, and had three blocks in 11 minutes. Shaun Livingston went 5-of-5 from the field. JaVale McGee, who started, scored 12 points and didn’t miss a shot from the floor.

The differentiation in play between Golden State’s and Cleveland’s role players was not just the story of Game 2, but it’s what sets them apart fundamentally in roster construction and organizational strategy.

It’s a running joke on Twitter at this point, but the idea that Nick Young and McGee are contributing minutes to Golden State (they combined for 36 on Sunday) is wild beyond our NBA-watching dreams. It’s something you’d only expect to click for the Warriors or perhaps the San Antonio Spurs. But while that meme runs its course on social media, the reality is that Cleveland is running out a roster of players with similarly historically low expectations with very different results.

Jordan Clarkson looks like he’s not ready to be a rotation player; Rodney Hood nearly got DNP-CD’d again (he played garbage time on Sunday); Green looked extremely Jeff Green-y; Tristan Thompson didn’t contribute to his salary level; Nance got eaten alive against Warriors starters.

The gap between the stars on the Warriors and the stars on the Cavaliers is expansive. But the benches and role players, on paper and with Iguodala sidelined, are closer than we think. That’s doubly so when McGee and Young are getting significant run. It’s the execution that sets them apart, and as the rotation mixes over the game, how the stars are able to cover for their lesser teammates.

Cleveland isn’t the kind of team that’s going to be able to hide that many holes in a Finals matchup. They need their role players not just to fill in, but to push past their expectations in some kind of consistent manner. After Game 2 Tyronn Lue said as much, specifically with regard to Green.

“Jeff could be more assertive, I think,” said Lue. “[He needs to] be more aggressive offensively, not just settle for threes, [and] attack the basket.”

Green was important during Cleveland’s series against the Toronto Raptors, and vital to their Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. But for the most part, Green hasn’t been able to handle his share, particularly when opponents have zeroed in on Love and Korver. That rang true again on Sunday when Green finished with six points, two rebounds, and one assist on 28.5 percent shooting.

In these NBA Finals, we’re seeing the truths our facts, figures, and theorems can teach us when we put them into a real life experiment. The result, for the Cavaliers, isn’t good. Outside of the record-breaking 3-point makes by Stephen Curry and the high-scoring of Kevin Durant are guys like Livingston, West, Kevon Looney, and even Jordan Bell, grinding away and playing their part. Cleveland hasn’t been able to find the same spark from their bench.

Golden State has been able to suppress the effectiveness of Cavaliers starters outside of LeBron, limiting Love’s shooting or keeping Thompson off the boards. That should naturally leave space for players with smaller roles to step up, but with the way the roster is constructed and the continual failure to get just about anything out of their bench, the reality of Who the Warriors Are vs. Who the Cavaliers Are is here, and it’s clear.

LeBron can play as hard as he can. He has, really. Game 1 was a masterpiece, and Game 2 was an efficient, superstar kind of night. But no matter the effort from James, the averages always come to bear during a playoff series. That’s especially true during the Finals, and it’s not just Golden State’s stars that are better than Cleveland’s.

It’s their bench, too.