Willie Cauley-Stein

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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.

DeMarcus Cousins is still available, switches agents in effort to get signed

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The center position is one NBA teams believe they can fill without spending too much money now. Sure, if you have a Joel Embiid or Rudy Gobert or Nikola Jokic at the five teams will back up the Brinks truck, but the Warriors brought back Kevon Looney at $5 million a season, and more and more it’s a position where teams are reluctant to pay big money without knowing they have an elite player at the position.

DeMarcus Cousins was once that elite player. However, after an Achilles tear that seemed to slow him when he did return last season, then a quad tear during the playoffs, not to mention some teams being scared off by his reputation as a locker room challenge (fair or not), there has not been much of a market for Cousins. Players such as Dewayne Dedmon (two years, $25 million) and Robin Lopez ($4.8 million) have found homes, and Cousins still waits.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN put it this way on the network’s air Tuesday:

“There’s not a market for him. I think he hoped that some big market teams would strikeout, they’d have cap space and he could get a one-year, $12 (million), $15 (million), $18 (million), $20 million deal. That’s not happening. The mid-level exception he got in Golden State last year? I don’t think that’s there.”

Trying to shake things up, Cousins is switching agents, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Once the Kawhi Leonard decision comes down there will be teams with some cap space to spend, but that may not help Cousins market much.

The Warriors brought back Looney and then signed Willie Cauley-Stein on Tuesday, ending the idea Cousins could return to the Bay Area. Celtics’ and Knicks’ rumors floated around, but neither team has yet made a move.

Cousins averaged 16.3 points and 8.4 rebounds a game for Warriors in the 30 games he played last season after coming back from his Achilles tear. He did so playing with good offensive efficiency, but he did not move terribly well (to be expected, considering the injury) and struggled when teams forced him to defend in space.

Cousins could be forced to take a minimum contract somewhere, or maybe a little more at best (there are rumors he would consider that with the Lakers if Kawhi Leonard goes there). If that happens, he will do it on a one-year contract hoping to find more suitors next summer in what will be more of a down free agent class.

Report: Willie Cauley-Stein agrees to contract with Golden State

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Willie Cauley-Stein wanted out of Sacramento so he could prove he was more than a rim runner, that he could pop out and shoot (a skill he did not show with the Kings), taking what the defense gives him. He wants to prove he’s a center that fits in the modern NBA.

Golden State is going to give him that chance.

Cauley-Stein is headed to the Warriors according to multiple reports, with Marcus Thompson of The Athletic being first.

Cauley-Stein will back up Kevon Looney at center in Golden State, when they don’t play small and put Draymond Green at the five.

Cauley-Stein averaged 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds a game last season for the Kings, shooting 55.6 percent overall but no better than 35 percent from the floor anywhere outside the restricted area. He wanted a chance in a new environment, now we’ll see what they athletic center out of Kentucky can do with that opportunity.

Report: Kings signing Harrison Barnes (four years, $85M), Dewayne Dedmon (three years, $40M)

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The Kings will re-sign Harrison Barnes to a huge contract… and still have enough money left to get a starting center in Dewayne Dedmon.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

That’s a lot for Barnes, but at least the Kings did it in a smart way – spending more now, when their money doesn’t go as far. This franchise is only beginning to shed its reputation as “basketball hell.” Free agents frequently spurn Sacramento. As De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III and Bogdan Bogdanovic lead the next era, the Kings could become far more appealing down the road. And because of Barnes’ contract structure, they’ll have more flexibility then.

If Barnes’ deal is as frontloaded as possible

  • 2019-20: $24,147,727
  • 2020-21: $22,215,909
  • 2021-22: $20,284,091
  • 2022-23: $18,352,273

That’s also a lot of money for Dedmon. But the fit looks strong, and again, I’m not sure the Kings had a better way to use their cap space.

The 29-year-old Dedmon should provide an immediate upgrade at center. If his young teammates are ready to take the next step, he could make the difference between making the playoffs and not. Dedmon is a good defender who shoots 3s and just generally plays hard.

This makes it more likely incumbent starting center Willie Cauley-Stein will get his wish with Sacramento pulling his qualifying offer and making him an unrestricted free agent. But the Kings have enough cap room to sign Barnes and Demon and keep Cauley-Stein restricted.

Kings sign GM Vlade Divac to four-year deal

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Update: Kings release:

Today, the Sacramento Kings announced that the team has extended the contract of General Manager Vlade Divac through the 2022-23 season.

“It is an exciting time to be in Sacramento and I am honored to continue my work of building towards sustained success for this franchise,” said Kings General Manager Vlade Divac. “I believe our team has what it takes to win and make the playoffs. I want to thank Vivek, the entire Kings organization and the fans for all their support.”

“Vlade has been vital to what we are building here and I am so pleased to announce his extension,” said Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé. “Throughout his entire career, Vlade is someone who has always made those around him better, both on and off the court. I look forward to our bright future ahead as we work to make Sacramento Proud.”

 

The Kings were the NBA’s most pleasant surprise. Widely expected to be among the league’s worst teams, Sacramento went 39-43 – its best season in years. The Kings played fast and fun. De'Aaron Fox improved like crazy. Buddy Hield broke out. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Willie Cauley-Stein and Marvin Bagley III bolstered a young supporting cast.

Rightfully, the person in charge of the roster will get rewarded.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

According to two​ sources with​ knowledge of​ the​ situation,​​ Kings general manager Vlade Divac has agreed to terms on a four-year deal that runs through the 2022-23 season.

According to the sources, the fate of the Kings’ third-year coach rests solely in Divac’s hands. As part of Divac’s agreement, owner Vivek Ranadive made it clear that the team’s top basketball executive will make the final call on the coach who has one season and approximately $5 million remaining on his current contract.

Divac got off to a rough start as an executive. He has seemingly grown into his role and has absolutely put the Kings on the right track. They’re wise to lock him up.

But dysfunction clearly remains within the organization. There’s no other way to explain Dave Joerger, who deserves serious Coach of the Year consideration, not being certain to return. Joerger is caught in a larger divide, though it’s not as if he lacks his own internal squabbles.

Plenty of challenges remain for Divac. The Kings must continue to build without this year’s first-round pick, which he traded in an awful deal earlier in his tenure. Sacramento must handle Harrison Barnes, an in-season addition who didn’t lead to the desired immediate success and holds a $25,102,512 player option for next season. And the Kings must determine who’ll coach them.

But Sacramento finally has a promising collection of young talent. Divac has given himself a strong foundation to build on as he confronts other challenges.