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Warriors signing DeMarcus Cousins not even best development of their summer

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Rockets downgraded. LeBron James didn’t form a super team anywhere. Only the Raptors emerged as a new contender, and that’s only if Kawhi Leonard is healthy.

The Warriors’ path to another championship looks even clearer now than it did at the beginning of the summer.

Oh, and they signed DeMarcus Cousins.

Of course Golden State isn’t assured a third straight title and fourth in five years. I’ve been banging the drum against the inevitability of a Warriors championship during this entire run, and I’m sure not stopping now. There are too many variables just to assume one team will cruise against a field of 29 others. But few teams have ever looked so well-positioned entering the season.

Golden State returns its entire elite core. Kevin Durant re-signed, though on just another 1+1 deal. Uncertainty seems unavoidable with him.

At least he’ll be a known factor next season. The same can’t be said of Cousins.

Cousins’ Achilles tear makes it unclear when he’ll play, let alone when he’ll play at a high level. Even once he gets healthy and on track individually, there are real questions about how he’ll fit with the Warriors. Cousins won’t necessarily be the dominant force that stacks the deck insurmountably in Golden State’s favor.

There was also a real opportunity cost to signing him. The Warriors needed more wings rather than another center, and they used their biggest tool to upgrade – the mid-level exception – on Cousins. And they’ll almost certainly get him for only one year. The largest starting salary they can effectively offer him next summer is just $6,404,400. If Cousins can’t command far more than that on the open market, he probably wouldn’t be welcomed back, anyway.

All that said, Golden State had to sign him when he agreed to play for so little. He’s so darned talented. It’s worth the risk. If everything pans out, he could help the 2018-19 Warriors stake a claim as the greatest team of all time.

Otherwise, the Warriors were pretty conservative this summer.

They drafted Jacob Evans No. 28 and signed Kevon Looney and Jonas Jerebko to minimum contracts. Patrick McCaw will probably accept his qualifying offer.

David West retired. JaVale McGee signed with the Lakers. Zaza Pachulia signed with the Pistons. Nick Young remains unsigned.

On a team with Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala, those players just don’t move the needle much. Golden State was mostly locked into a static summer by virtue of the team’s incredible standing already.

So, it was shocking the Warriors added a potential gamechanger in Cousins. But the biggest moves for Golden State were the ones that didn’t happen elsewhere to threaten its supremacy.

 

Offseason grade: A

Kyrie Irving is going to business school classes at Harvard

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Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving doesn’t believe that the Earth is round but that hasn’t stopped him from seeking out knowledge from one of the nation’s top universities.

Part of Irving’s offseason plans have apparently been to enroll in a business program at none other than Harvard. The program, aptly titled “Crossover Into Business” reportedly helps athletes prepare themselves to enter the business world after they end their active sporting careers.

According to Boston.com, the program also pairs athletes with mentors to, “develop their business acumen and empower them to make better business decisions.”

Other attending athletes are John Holland, Martellus Bennett, Spencer Dinwiddie, Zaza Pachulia, and Paul Millsap.

This is a prudent move given how Irving has risen in cultural standing within the NBA, not only as a star player but as the title character in the soda-ad-turned-Hollywood-movie “Uncle Drew”. Many of us have seen stories of NBA players going broke, and there have even been entire documentaries produced about the likelihood of professional athletes losing millions of dollars after their playing days have ended.

Stephen Curry says he, Warriors not fazed by power shift to West

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LeBron James is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, taking a 35-win team and making them a threat in a deep West. Carmelo Anthony is joining the Rockets. DeMar DeRozan has been added to the Spurs. It’s not just them, literally every team in the Western Conference got better this off-season — even bottom two Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings should be noticeably improved.

How does Stephen Curry feel about that? He said this was to be expected and the Warriors will be ready for it, speaking to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area about this coming season.

“If you go through history, there’s has been blockbuster moves and trades every year, or most years,” he said. “Every team is trying to beat the champs, so nothing is really surprising. You just sit back and survey the league, survey what’s going on, and how we can get back on top this coming year and three-peat.

“There’s been some big names, obviously, with LeBron (James) and other guys moving. We need to control what we can control and be a better team this year. We have a couple new additions, so we’ve got to hit the ground running in September, in training camp. As every year is, chasing a championship, a different year and you can’t just carbon copy what you did last year and be successful.”

The Warriors big-name move this summer was adding DeMarcus Cousins, although he likely will not be back until Christmas or later. The Warriors can bring him along slowly because when they really need him is the playoffs — even a slowed and lessened Cousins is an upgrade over Zaza Pachulia. That said, when the game is on the line late, Cousins will be on the bench watching the “death lineup” with Draymond Green playing the five. That will remain the Warriors’ best lineup.

This weekend Curry will be playing in the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae — a stop on the Web.com tour (the secondary tour, behind the PGA Tour). Curry played in it last year and despite being near a scratch golfer he missed the cut by 11 strokes. That said, this is a course he plays a lot and he believes he can do much better.

“As a true golf nut, whether I can execute it or not is another question. But I feel like I can shave off 11 shots. Who knows what the cut will be this year? But that’s my goal.

“I feel like I could use the experience last year and the few chances I get to play tournament golf to my advantage and see what happens. I’ve just got to get off to a better start and not hit it into a cupholder or a golf cart on the first shot.”

 

Warriors make it official, sign free agent forward Jonas Jerebko

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Free agent forward Jonas Jerebko has signed with the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors announced the deal Thursday and planned to formally introduce Jerebko on Monday.

A native of Sweden, Jerebko has played nine NBA seasons with Utah, Boston and Detroit. In 32 postseason games – four starts – for the Jazz and Celtics, he has averaged 4.0 points and 3.1 rebounds.

Golden State had already added center DeMarcus Cousins in free agency and re-signed two-time reigning finals MVP Kevin Durant and forward/center Kevon Looney after winning a second straight title and third in four years. Centers JaVale McGee (Lakers) and Zaza Pachulia (Pistons) have departed.

Report: Zaza Pachulia signs one-year deal with Detroit Pistons

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At least one member of the Golden State Warriors championship core is moving away from the team.

Fifteen-year NBA veteran Zaza Pachulia has agreed to sign a one-year, $2.4 million deal with the Detroit Pistons. That figure represents a minimum salary contract for Pachulia given his experience.

Via Twitter:

Pachulia’s advanced statistics suggest that he is still a useful player, although his age and minutes might dictate how much of an impact he has on the box score this coming season for the Pistons. Detroit already has several star forwards, including Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, and they have useful backups like Jon Leuer.

What the Pachulia’s role will be at this time in his career and for a team that is not expected to contend for a championship is unclear. However, getting a veteran presence on the Pistons is a solid move for Dwane Casey as he tries to reform the culture of the team in his own vision.

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