Shaun Livingston

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Stephen Curry on idea Warriors are not title contenders: ‘I just laugh at it’

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The Golden State Warriors won a title — and had a 73-win regular season — before Kevin Durant walked through that door.

Now that Durant has walked (well, limped) out that door, combined with the facts this is an older and thinner Warriors roster, a lot of people are counting them out of the title chase. Klay Thompson already said do so at your own peril because the dynasty can continue, and the team re-signed Daymond Green to keep the core intact for a few more years.

Stephen Curry‘s reaction to the doubts about this team? Laughter. Via Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“I just laugh at it,” Curry said during his second annual Warriors All-Girls basketball camp in Oakland on Monday afternoon. “Anybody can say anything about anything nowadays and it can pick up steam. So we’ve had lots of support. We’ve had a lot of criticism on the way that doesn’t change now. Just what they’re saying is different so doesn’t change how we go about our business.”

It’s not just that Durant is gone, but so are trusted role players such as Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Curry understands they have to build this thing back up.

“It’s just a matter of really trying to get guys comfortable with the system, be able to highlight the different skill sets that we have and different strengths and the chemistry,” Curry said. “It will take a little bit of time and a lot of hard work, but like I said, we have a lot of high IQ guys from our core and a lot of leadership and commitment to what we do, so starting in the training camp and beyond, you have to have a mindset that you will continue to get better as the season goes on.”

The last three seasons the Warriors started off with a massive margin for error and they went on to win two titles (and it took an avalanche of injuries to stop a three-peat). This year that is gone. This season the Warriors are going to be good, but they are just one of five or six teams in the West that enter the season with legitimate reasons to believe they can come out of it all and take a title.

For the Warriors, everything has to go right. Curry and Green have to stay healthy, Thompson has to return and be close to his elite self on both ends (he likely is not back until after the All-Star break), D'Angelo Russell needs to fit in next to Curry (or be traded for a player/players who do), big men Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein need to form a strong front line, and role players such as Alfonzo McKinnie and Alec Burks have to thrive in their roles.

It’s a lot of things that have to go right in Golden State next season.

It also all could happen, and we know how good the Curry/Thompson/Green combo can be when they are clicking.

Report: Warriors to waive Shaun Livingston, making him unrestricted free agent

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Shaun Livingston, the backup point guard who has been part of the fabric of the Warriors through their five consecutive runs to the Finals, is about to be a free agent.

The Warriors are waiving Livingston to save some money as they head deep into a luxury tax for a team retooling for a title. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the story, with Anthony Slater of The Athletic adding the Warriors will stretch what remains of Livingston’s contract.

That’s a lot of savings, and with Stephen Curry and D'Angelo Russell both on the roster there is not as much need for Livingston as a backup at the point.

Livingston’s game has slipped the last couple of seasons, which is not surprising at age 33 (34 before next season), but the veteran still can be a solid reserve for 15 minutes a night and it’s likely teams with title dreams will be lined up for his services (at the league minimum in most cases). He’s also very popular and a leader in the locker room, a player with an amazing career arc from phenom to guy trying to come back from a gruesome leg injury to solid role player and NBA champion. He’s liked and respected around the league.

Livingston will be able to choose where he wants to play next, there will be options.

Whatever is next for the Golden State Warriors, it’s going to be very different

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OAKLAND — It was more than 90 minutes after the NBA Finals had ended, after the Toronto Raptors had beaten the Golden State Warriors four times in six tries.

The fans had left. First, the dispirited Warriors fans who didn’t believe this is how the final game at Oracle Arena would end. Next, the Raptors fans, loud and celebrating like first-time champions should, taking their party out into the city. The stage where Adam Silver had handed Kawhi Leonard his latest Finals MVP trophy had been taken down and put away. The only people left in the building were media members, ushers taking one last look around the arena, and some champagne-drenched players.

Stephen Curry was there and joined his family and friends up in the seats behind one of the baskets for one last photo, some remembrances, one last chance to soak in Oracle Arena.

Because It’s never going to be the same for these Warriors.

Not just because of the new building that takes them out of Oakland and drops them in the heart of San Francisco.

Whatever the Warriors look like next season, it won’t be the same as the team they believed would win them an NBA championship this past season.

Next season may look a lot more like the lineup the Warriors had on the floor at the end of Game 6 — no Kevin Durant and no Klay Thompson, both recovering from injuries, and a group of inexperienced and/or inexpensive players around Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

What the Warriors will look like in two years is anybody’s guess.

But it will not be the same.

Kevin Durant is a free agent this summer and all season long it has been assumed in league circles he was gone from the Bay Area. Maybe headed to New York, possibly to be a Clipper in Los Angeles, but he was going to bolt town. Now, however, with a torn Achilles that will sideline him most if not all of next season, did his mindset change? Will he want to sign a shorter contract and rehab with a franchise where he knows the staff, knows the trainers, knows the players and is comfortable? Or does he still want out? Durant himself, still trying to process the emotions of this career-changing injury, may not know the answer. That said, the buzz is that he still leaves.

If he leaves, the Warriors are still over the cap and can’t just replace him. Those new Warriors will look more like the 2015 edition, just older.

Klay Thompson is a free agent as well, and he also will likely miss all of next season recovering from a torn left ACL. While he will also have suitors from coast to coast, nobody around the NBA seriously thought Thompson was leaving as long as he got a max contract. He will still get that, and Thompson’s father Mychael said on Friday his son will stay in Golden State.

DeMarcus Cousins is a free agent and the most the Warriors can offer him under the terms of the CBA is $6.4 million. There’s a good chance another team will come in higher than that despite Cousins’ injury history (after said team strikes out with other free agents and gets a little desperate). Cousins will just have trouble getting the number of years he wants.

Kevon Looney free agent and while Steve Kerr called Looney a foundational part of their future, it will be very expensive to keep the young big man after his strong performance in these playoffs. Other teams are targeting him.

Shaun Livingston is mulling retirement. Andrew Bogut is headed back to Australia.

Draymond Green’s contract can be extended, although with the Warriors cap situation it is more likely he becomes a free agent in 2020 and re-signs with the team, an extension would be a paycut.

Around all that, the Warriors need to find a way to get younger, get more athletic, get role players who can eat up a lot of minutes and take some of the load off Curry, Green, Andre Iguodala and the rest.

It’s a lot on GM Bob Myers plate — and the price tag is high. Very high.

Golden State’s co-owner (or whatever term you wish) Joe Lacob has said he would offer both Thompson and Durant the max, and he was willing to pay the tax to keep the band together. That sounds good, but bring everyone back and this team’s combined payroll and luxury tax will push $350 million. An NBA record. Yes, the Warriors are in the black. Yes, their new Chase Center building (owned by Lacob and company) basically prints money. That’s still a massive tax bill, and how many billionaires do you know of happy to pay taxes?

And that tax bill is a team that might not make the playoffs next year and certainly will not be a title contender with Thompson and Durant out (if KD even stays).

That’s why there’s a lot of speculation around the league that if Durant stays the Warriors may try to trade Iguodala and even Green, just to save some money, both next season and down the line. Green will be up for a max in 2020 and do the Warriors want to give him five years and north of $195 million?

There are a lot of questions, ones we will learn the answers to in the coming weeks. The one thing we do know?

That doesn’t mean the Warriors should be counted out.

“But our DNA and who we are and the character that we have on this team, I wouldn’t bet against us being back on this stage next year and going forward,” Curry said.

“I think everybody thinks it’s kind of the end of us. But that’s just not smart,” Green said. “We’re not done yet. We lost this year. Clearly just wasn’t our year, but that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But, yeah, I hear a lot of that noise, it’s the end of a run and all that jazz. I don’t see it happening though. We’ll be back.”

They may well be back in 2020.

But it’s going to be the same.

Fred VanVleet gets bloodied, apparently leaves tooth on court (video)

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Raptors guard Fred VanVleet might have hit the dagger shot on the first possession of the fourth quarter in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. His 3-pointer put Toronto up 15 and left the Warriors in dire straights.

He got that big shot up just in time.

A few minutes later, VanVleet caught an elbow from Shaun Livingston. VanVleet lied on the court for a while, bleeding from around his eye. He also checked his his mouth, apparently for a loose tooth.

ABC’s cameras found it – while play continued! – as VanVleet headed to the locker room:

Warriors’ Klay Thompson ruled out of Game 3 with hamstring strain

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OAKLAND — Rather than risk him aggravating his hamstring injury in what the Warriors see as a long series, Klay Thompson will sit out Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Thompson was listed as active but the team made it official less than 30 minutes before tip-off at Oracle Arena in a series tied 1-1.

Thompson joins Kevin Durant (calf strain) and Kevon Looney (fractured collar bone) on the bench, challenging the Warriors rotations and depth against an elite Toronto squad. Also, Andre Iguodala is playing through leg pain, Stephen Curry still has his fingered taped from a sprain suffered last round, and DaMarcus Cousins just returned from a torn quadriceps.

Thompson pushed to play, coach Steve Kerr said pregame, but he was eventually overruled.

“He’s making a very strong case. That’s who Klay is…” Kerr said before the game. “But he’s trying desperately to be out on the floor tonight, and we’ll have to weigh all the factors and make the decision. We probably won’t let him make the decision.”

The respect the Warriors have for the Raptors — and how long this series will be — plays into the decision, something Kerr emphasized.

“To cut right to the core of it, it’s still early in the series, so if there’s risk, then we won’t play him,” Kerr said.

“If there’s any pain, it will be a no-go just because of the position we’re in,” Thompson said the previous day. “This could be a longer series, so there’s no point in trying to go out there and re-aggravate it and potentially keep myself out of the whole entire Finals instead of just one game. So like I said, it will be a game-time decision. But I really want to be out there.”

Thompson will be missed on offense — he had 25 points before leaving Game 2 with 7:59 — but maybe more on defense, where he had been assigned Kawhi Leonard for the second half of Game 2, setting up rotations that worked for the Warriors.

“He’s one of the best two-way players in the league,” Kerr said of Thompson. “That’s true in the regular season, it’s especially true in the playoffs.”

Shaun Livingston will start in his place. No Thompson puts additional pressure on Draymond Green, Iguodala, and Cousins to do more shot creation.

It also puts some pressure on the Raptors — they can’t let opportunities like this slide by. Losing this game to a shorthanded Warriors would be disheartening.