What the Golden State Warriors Need from Andre Iguodala Next Season

The Golden State Warriors are going to need Andre Iguodala to build on his last campaign and perform at a higher level next season.

The Warriors failed to place Iguodala in a setting where he was consistently successful, and it hurt both parties. Former head coach Mark Jackson utilized the high-flyer as his backup point guard and secondary ball-handler behind Stephen Curry.

Iguodala is a good passer and decent orchestrator at best. He’s much more suited to create as a second option or third option after defenders have already converged on the first one.

Golden State will want defenses rotating in Iguodala’s direction as opposed to stifling him directly at the point of the attack when he makes his initial move.

Iguodala is a good spot-up shooter and scary finisher, and the Dubs will want to emphasize those strengths.

 

Abandoning the Point Forward

Iguodala will likely start at small forward, and that’s exactly where the Dubs want him. Sure, he might play some at 2-guard, which is fine, but the days of orchestrating the offense are over.

To be clear, Iguodala will get opportunities to feed teammates within the flow of the offense, and that will be the extent of the creativity needed.

B/R’s Fred Katz touched on this in August: “Iguodala can still be a secondary ball-handler, but he may not be a guy you want to turn the offense over to for long stretches anymore, considering how important the pick-and-roll has become in today’s NBA.”

By signing Shaun Livingston this past offseason, it would appear that management was making this fairly clear to Iguodala. Katz added: “The Shaun Livingston acquisition will help remove some of the offensive burden from Iggy’s shoulders.”

Livingston is one of the league’s best backup point guards, and he will handle all ball-handling duties when Curry rests. Furthermore, Livingston’s defensive prowess coupled with his finishing ability will earn him minutes alongside Curry as well.

As a result, the Warriors will have a lot of playmakers on the floor, which will make the offense look incredibly fluid. Just think of what Boris Diaw does for the San Antonio Spurs.

What’s more, Steve Kerr will rely a bit more on his big men to initiate the offense.

“I think you’ll see a lot of ball movement; I think you’ll see the bigs utilized as passers on the elbows and on the block,” Kerr said in May, per the San Jose Mercury News‘ Tim Kawakami. “I think you’ll see some Triangle concepts.”

Indeed, by stationing David Lee, Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green at the elbows, they will be able to hit cutters directly at the rim.

This is right up Iguodala’s alley. He’s at his best while moving around the court without the ball because it gives him opportunities to attack spread-out defenses from different angles. It makes him far less predictable and enhances his scoring opportunities.

George Karl did a masterful job at executing this when coaching Iguodala with the Denver Nuggets. That Denver team lacked anything resembling a legit three-point threat, and yet it had top-five offense.

It simply came down to overwhelming opponents with fast breaks, cuts, ball movement, pick-and-rolls and back screens.

This is specifically what the Warriors need from Iguodala. As long as he’s not static, Golden State will gladly live with the results because it will mean that the offense is flowing.

When Kawakami pressed Kerr on whether he could see Klay Thompson and Iguodala improving as a result of a shared approach, the Golden State coach did not mince words: “I don’t know if I’ve ever met a player who didn’t improve with ball movement and spacing.”

The last thing the Dubs want is Iguodala handling the ball with great frequency and firing up contested jumpers with the shot clock ticking down or running pick-and-rolls as a primary option with defenders daring him to shoot off the dribble.

An offense inspired from the triangle offense keeps him active and, more importantly, gets him open.

 

Rediscovering Defense

Iguodala has to become the lockdown defender fans have become accustomed to through the years.

Although Iguodala made the All-Defensive first team last season, he simply wasn’t that impressive when compared to his usual work.

The honor was likely earned by reputation, given the Golden State swingman barely handled the tough perimeter assignments during the 2013-14 campaign.

Don’t get me wrong, Iggy was a terrific help defender last season, and he did well in some individual matchups. Iguodala was a net positive on this front, but he wasn’t as disruptive as in previous years.

The coaching staff felt more comfortable giving those matchups to Thompson, which indicates he earned the trust of his team in this front. In the same breath, this suggests Iguodala lost some of the faith of his teammates and coaches.

Granted, he dealt with injuries (hamstring, tendinitis and hip soreness) last season and may have taken a step back defensively in an effort to concentrate his efforts on an offense that desperately needed a secondary ball-handler.

The offseason probably allowed him to regain the ideal physical form, and the reduction of duties will give him an opportunity to focus all of his energy on shutting down the player he must guard.

Golden State will need for Iguodala to once again become the destructive defensive force he once was. It will allow the Dubs to occasionally flummox the opposition’s offense and perhaps even completely lock it down with Iguodala and Thompson on the perimeter and Bogut on the interior.

Thompson and Bogut’s contributions helped the Warriors become the third-ranked defense in the league last season.

With Iguodala regaining his previous form, this could be the most feared defense in the league.

Iguodala holds the key to unlocking a killer Golden State squad. If he meets the team’s expectations, we’ll be looking at one of the best units in the Western Conference.

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Warriors’ Mark Jackson will call people who buy wife’s album

Mark Jackson is going to extreme lengths to get his wife’s album to sell. Jackson’s wife Desiree Coleman Jackson, released a single called ‘Strip’ and check out Mark’s creative way of promoting it. Come on, man.
Tweet me a pic of my wife Desiree Coleman Jackson’s new single “STRIP” purchased with ur phone #. I will personally call and Thank U! — Mark Jackson (@MarkJackson13) September 17, 2014
Can’t knock a man for holding down his lady though, and by the looks of things, it’s working
Just got to have a real conversation with @MarkJackson13 !!! Talk about crazy! Great coach and a better man!! — Fake Noah Dartmann (@I_Noah_Guy30) September 17, 2014
I real life just got off the phone with THE @MarkJackson13 — Nate Dartmann™ (@Nate_Dartmann) September 17, 2014
I had a conversation w/ Pastor/coach @MarkJackson13 . Real, genuine Man of God. Humble spirit with an unshakeable faith in God. — Cameron Parker (@ParkerAthletix) September 17, 2014
via Geeks and Cleats

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How Should the Warriors Handle Klay Thompson Conundrum?

The Golden State Warriors will be in a bit of a predicament with respect to Klay Thompson’s extension.

He’s a solid 2-guard who makes it rain from long range, and he’s morphed into the Warriors’ best perimeter defender. An argument could be made that he is the best two-way guard in basketball.

In addition, Thompson will only be 24 years old when the season tips off, and he established himself as one of Team USA’s best players during the FIBA World Cup.

Thompson’s always been able to shoot the ball, as evidenced by his career 41 percent mark from downtown, and he’s showed some growth during international play. The sharpshooter is putting the ball on the floor and finishing in traffic, which has never really been his forte.

By adding this layer to his game, Thompson could very well become the league’s premier 2-guard. As much as the Golden State front office will appreciate this development, it has to scare them a little given what it means going forward.

Dollar signs for Thompson.

USA Today’s Sam Amick offered this nugget in August:

Meanwhile, Thompson’s agent, Bill Duffy, has been seeking a max deal in extension talks with the Warriors as well. And while Golden State would surely prefer that the stance eventually softens and leads to a more palatable deal, the fact that he is younger means a max for Thompson would start at $15.7 million and still allow for more flexibility in the Warriors future than a [Kevin] Love deal.

It’s one thing for Thompson to seek a max extension, but should the Warriors oblige?

Theoretically, they could play hardball and try to sign him for roughly four years at $9 million annually. However, that seems unlikely.

As Amick mentioned, a max deal for Thompson presents a lower figure than Love. During the offseason, the Warriors had discussed a swap involving Love prior to the Minnesota Timberwolves trading him to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The framework of the transaction centered around David Lee, Thompson, Love and Kevin Martin, per Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears. However, members of the Warriors front office were split on whether to part with Thompson, according to a report by Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne posted over at ESPN LA.

Ultimately, Golden State held firm and kept Thompson because he better suited the defensive culture of the franchise. Amick added:

Their recent refusal to include guard and Timberwolves target Klay Thompson in the deal is rooted in this reality. Losing Thompson not only would leave [Stephen] Curry overexposed defensively in the backcourt but also is compounded by the fact that Love — much like incumbent power forward David Lee, who would head to Minnesota if this deal got done — isn’t exactly known as a two-way player. 

The Warriors valued Thompson enough to pass on arguably the best power forward in the league. Golden State essentially said Thompson was more important to them than Love, who happens to be a max-level player.

I’m not sure the Dubs have any leverage at all here. Curry, the team’s best player, needs Thompson around to take on his assignments, and the offense seems smoother with Thompson on the floor because he stretches defenses thin.

Thus, Golden State will drop suitcases of cash on him without question, right? Well, not quite.

The Warriors have until October 31 to agree to an extension that would kick in for the 2015-16 campaign. If all the player and team options are exercised, Golden State would likely exceed the luxury tax line based on Sham Sports’ salary data.

The tax line is $76.8 million for the 2014-15 season, and the Dubs probably exceed it with the extension. Being a tax team means it becomes harder to add players because there are less salary exceptions available and harsher tax penalties on every amount owed to a Warrior.

It’s not ideal, but Golden State can probably manage for a year or two under these conditions. It’s worth mentioning, his teammates might have a small problem with it.

In the event management signed Thompson to a max deal, he would become the highest-paid Warrior.

Let that sink in for a second.

Thompson would earn more than Curry and Andrew Bogut. One could rationalize on some level that Thompson brings more to the table than Bogut, but it’s not exactly an open-and-shut case. Thompson is younger, healthier and more offensive-minded.

On the flip side, these Warriors haven’t been out of the first round sans Bogut.

As it pertains to Curry, he signed his current deal while dealing with lingering ankle issues during the 2011-12 season, which explains why he will “only” make $11.4 million during the 2015-16 campaign.

With that said, Thompson can’t make more than Curry. It could create a situation where the team’s best player feels undervalued and, worse yet, disrespected (also applies on some level to Bogut).

What other options do the Dubs have?

Bad ones.

Instead of signing Thompson to an extension, Golden State could allow him to play out his contract and then extend a qualifying offer in the 2015 offseason. He would become a restricted free agent, which gives the Warriors the right to match whatever contract offer Thompson signs with another team.

On the surface, this seems advantageous. But the issues previously outlined with respect to player salaries would take effect. Chemistry might suffer, which means the team would take a step backward.

Worse yet, Thompson might want out due to Golden State’s refusal to settle the situation early. That could prompt Thompson to sign a one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent the following year (a la Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons). Once the 2-guard hits free agency, he can go to any team of his choosing.

Yikes!

The other alternative is simply to trade Thompson, which seems unlikely. By dealing him, maybe Golden State receives a young, promising player or a first-round pick in return.

Such a transaction would shake the foundation given that the franchise would be turning its back on the culture it’s created in the last few seasons. Keep in mind, the Warriors would be getting rid of a productive 24-year-old 2-guard.

It bears repeating that management chose him over Love, which means they can’t just ship him away now, as CBS Sports’ Zach Harper noted.

Decisions, decisions.

Golden State is lucky enough that Thompson loves his surroundings. When the San Jose Mercury News’ Marcus Thompson II pressed him on the fact he wasn’t traded for Love, the sniper offered:

The Warriors believe in me. That makes me want to work that much harder. They believe in me and Steph, they believe in the team we have. I believe in us, too. I think we have all the ingredients to win a championship.

Maybe that appreciation for not being dealt, and the fact the team has an intriguing roster, gets Thompson to back off from his initial asking price. If the Dubs can get him at about $11 million per year, they will have won the negotiation.

However, if Thompson is resolute in his demand, the Warriors will have to acquiesce. I realize that the extension comes with landmines, but ultimately, the team cannot let him walk.

A long-term commitment here becomes a loaded proposition, though. Curry and Bogut’s deals expire at the conclusion of the 2016-17 seasons, but the Warriors should immediately set their sights on discussing their next contracts once they’ve obtained Thompson’s signature.

Thus, whatever negative impact Thompson’s new contract will have, it will be mitigated by the front office’s ability to immediately discuss future compensation with its top players. It’s the best option available for the Dubs, and it’s the route the organization needs to take.

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Why Warriors’ Biggest Offseason Move Was Keeping Front Office Together

The Golden State Warriors feel good about where they’re at as a franchise.

Good enough to part with former coach Mark Jackson after 98 wins and two playoff appearances in as many years. Good enough to resist breaking up their core, even though the process could have netted them perennial All-Star Kevin Love. Good enough to trust that same core will make former player-executive-broadcaster Steve Kerr’s first season as a coach a wildly successful one.

If things are as good as the Warriors seem to think, then an old adage comes to mind: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

It’s not broken, by the way, and the Dubs aren’t tinkering with the formula. In fact, their major move of the offseason was doubling down on two of the parties partly (primarily?) responsible for eliciting that ebullience: general manager Bob Myers and executive board member Jerry West.

Myers, who was set to enter the final year of his contract, agreed to a three-year extension that will keep him in the Bay through the 2017-18 season, as first reported by Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. West inked a two-year extension that will run through the 2016-17 campaign, as Kawakami also reported.

The executives arrived from opposite ends of the basketball world.

West is the definition of “old-school.” For evidence of that, look no further than the NBA logo, the iconic silhouette of him from his Hall of Fame playing days. He wasn’t simply seasoned, he was saturated in the game when he joined the organization in May 2011, having played, coached and managed in this league—all at elite levels.

Myers had experience around the game before signing on as assistant general manager in April 2011 but nothing nearly as hands-on. He followed a four-year playing career at UCLA (highlighted by a national title in 1995) by serving under heavyweight agent Arn Tellem. Myers was a rapid riser as a player agent and later shifted over to the powerful Wasserman Media Group.

During 14 years in the business, Myers brokered deals that earned his clients more than $575 million, according to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Clearly he had a gift, but it was anyone’s guess how that would carry over into the front office. Three years later, it’s hard to label the transition as anything but smooth.

Well, smooth and speedy, that is. Supersonic, even.

“Agent to general manager-in-waiting to actual GM to indisputably part of the solution in Golden State. Zero-to-60 in about three years,” wrote NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper.

That breakneck experience isn’t unique to Myers, either.

The last three seasons have been a whirlwind for the entire franchise, a complete metamorphosis from a forgettable (or worse, forgotten) loser to a two-way force with championship aspirations and, more importantly, legitimate championship-level talent.

Now, Myers and West can’t take credit for assembling Golden State’s entire cast of characters. The executives inherited both David Lee and Stephen Curry.

They can, however, lay claim to one of the best decisions in franchise history: locking up Curry on a bargain four-year, $44 million contract extension in 2012. The point guard’s problematic ankles had as much to do with the clearance rate as anything, but Myers’ willingness to gamble left Golden State in possession of perhaps the best value contract in the NBA (rookie deals excluded).

That’s not the only feather in the executives’ hat, though. Far from it.

Through a flurry of savvy free-agent signings, intelligent draft picks and one blockbuster exchange, Myers and West have their fingerprints all over the Dubs’ radically reshaped reality.

Curry’s extension is the best move this front office has made, but try figuring out what should be next on that list.

Is it turning volume scorer Monta Ellis into defensive anchor Andrew Bogut? Is it finding Curry the perfect backcourt complement with the No. 11 pick in 2012 (Klay Thompson)? What about finding the proverbial diamond in the rough by snagging Draymond Green with the 35th selection one year later? Or flipping an expendable Dorell Wright for difference-making third guard Jarrett Jack?

Or how about turning the franchise into a viable destination for top-shelf free agents?

There are so many viable options, which is a testament to this group’s tenure.

This front office’s resume isn’t free of warts—it was in place when Jeremy Lin was waived and Charlie Bell’s insignificant, expiring contract was amnestied, both in December 2011—but the hits far outweigh the misses.

Just consider where the Warriors were when these two came aboard and where they are now.

They won 23 games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season while finishing 27th in defensive efficiency (106.0 points allowed per 100 possessions) and 30th in rebounding percentage (46.1). Last season, they rattled off 51 victories, ranking third in defensive efficiency (99.9) and ninth on the glass (51.1 percent).

How much of the credit for that turnaround belongs to the front office? Well, teams can’t win without talent. And the Warriors didn’t have much of it around before Myers and West showed up.

Golden State certainly trusts what this staff has built. While there seemed to be multiple layers behind Jackson’s dismissal, performance was absolutely part of the equation.

“We said we wanted to be better than we were last year, and a reasonable expectation for better is to be in the top four. And to obviously have home-court advantage,” owner Joe Lacob told reporters when discussing the decision. ” … We thought that was a reasonable expectation. We did not achieve that.”

This team’s ceiling is hard to set, but Lacob is right. the Warriors should have played better.

With as many offensive weapons as they had, there was no excuse for finishing 12th in efficiency at that end. The Warriors left a ton of points on the floor by way of ball-stopping, ineffective isolations.

That’s part of the reason for all the excitement swirling around Kerr and the motion offense he plans to install. There is plenty of production yet to be tapped, and he sounds like he knows where to find it.

“I want the ball to move. That’s the biggest thing,” Kerr told Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group. “We’ve got to get more ball movement, more passes per possession.”

With a superstar coaching staff supporting him—notably Alvin Gentry for offense and Ron Adams for defense—Kerr seems ready to help this group realize its potential.

And that’s why there was a split on breaking the team apart, even if it meant landing Love. The Warriors still want to see how all of these pieces work together.

“We want to give this coaching staff a chance to coach a roster that we think is pretty good,” Myers told KNBR’s Bob Fitzgerald in July (h/t via Leung). “It doesn’t mean we think we’re championship-ready. … But we do think the roster is good and young, and we’d like to see what it can do with the new staff.”

The front office believes in itself, in these players and in this first-year coach. That trust will be key in helping this franchise not just pick up where it left off but continue climbing the NBA ladder.

It will be especially critical given the type of scrutiny the team will face.

The Warriors will spend the 2014-15 season under the microscope. They won’t be just another team; they’ll be the ones who let go of Jackson despite his success and support from his players, who had a shot at Love and passed it up.

Golden State bet on itself, and the world will be watching to see if it can collect.

“The Warriors are built to win now in the West, and they faced some criticism for how they handled Kevin Love trade talks this summer,” wrote CBS Sports’ James Herbert. “They’ll have high expectations, and that applies to the front office as much as the coaching staff.”

But pressure is a good thing, particularly for a team that existed for so long without it. Expectations mean people are doing their jobs right, and the Warriors just protected their present and future by rewarding those people.

There’s a reason the basketball world is buzzing in Oakland. Two of them, actually.

Thanks to the Warriors’ best decision of the offseason, Myers and West will help keep the Bay beaming for years to come.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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Should Golden State Warriors Worry About Splash Brothers’ Busy Summer?

California is suffering through its worst drought since 1977, which is why the Golden State Warriors really can’t afford for the FIBA World Cup to dehydrate the Splash Brothers.

If that sounds like a long stretch for a not-so-clever intro, that’s because it is.

But if that sounds like an overstatement of the dangers facing Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry as they pursue gold with Team USA in Spain, rest assured it’s not.

 

Risky International Business

International play cuts into the valuable and increasingly scarce recovery time players need after the grind of the NBA season—a grind we simply can’t underestimate.

ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh (subscription required) has been writing a lot lately about the physical toll of the NBA schedule and discussed it most recently in terms of sleep deprivation:

A season of 82 games will yield 578 brutal back-to-backs in 2014-15 where teams are forced to travel overnight, severely inhibiting sleep habits. To recap, studies have shown that a sleepless night or roughly a week’s worth of little sleep has the impairment effect of becoming legally drunk. Another study shows that getting four or fewer hours of sleep a night in a week’s span—something that can occur when a team is forced to play four games in five nights—can deplete a man’s testosterone levels as if he’s aged 11 years.

Flying halfway around the world and playing five games in a six-day stretch isn’t ideal for sleep patterns or physical recovery in general—especially when it comes after a long season. Remember, it’s not just the World Cup games that are taxing Thompson and Curry; they’ve been practicing since July.

The risk of injury is obviously real, as Paul George‘s broken leg demonstrated. Though less catastrophic, old-fashioned fatigue is no joke either. Kevin Durant addressed that issue proactively, pulling out of the World Cup before the U.S. hopped a plane to Spain.

Physical breakdowns that show up after the fact are another problem. And though it’s difficult to make a definite causal connection between international play and subsequent injury, we’ve seen some examples that are hard to ignore.

When Dirk Nowitzki underwent the knee surgery that kept him out of the opening weeks of the 2012-13 season, his international mileage was suspected as a factor, according to the Associated Press (via USA Today): “Nowitzki said doctors didn’t find anything ‘that was crazy or anything unexpected’ during the surgery. He figures 14 NBA seasons, and playing on the German national team during the summers, just took its toll on his knee.”

Manu Ginobili missed the first dozen games of the 2008-09 season (and another 19 straight between February and March) following an ankle injury that his participation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics prevented from healing.

Ginobili told reporters at the time: “My plan was to be part of the Olympic Games, and I knew that if I suffered from pain they would have to operate. This isn’t something that took me by surprise.”

Maybe Nowitzki, Ginobili and other players who broke down after international play would have suffered the same fate without busy summers. But we can say this for sure: Every player has a finite number of miles in him, and though we don’t know what that number is, using up some of those miles over the summer cuts into the overall supply.

 

Weary Warriors?

If we look at Curry specifically, we should acknowledge that the frailty narrative that once defined his career is a thing of the past. He’s played 78 games in each of his past two seasons.

Collapsible ankles were Curry’s major physical issue and the reason the Warriors were able to sign him to such a team-friendly four-year, $44 million deal in 2012.

The uncertainty surrounding his future health, at the time, was very real.

Even if Curry has proved his durability, few players spent the past two years under more defensive pressure than he did. Opponents paid him uncommonly physical attention—pushing, trapping, tripping and generally trying to wear him down. Treatment like that adds up, and the Warriors should be concerned that the lack of an offseason break could set Curry back when the year tips off in late October.

The worries pertaining to Thompson are different.

He’s big for a guard, dishes out more physical punishment than he absorbs and plays a style that subjects him to very little wear and tear. Floating on the perimeter and rarely attacking the basket is a good way to stay healthy on offense.

Thompson has missed just one game in his three-year career.

But that cuts both ways. Durability is good. Three-plus seasons without a break isn’t.

Like Curry, Thompson has endured two-straight seasons extended by tough playoff series. And unlike Curry, Thompson’s dogged work on defense in the World Cup subjects him to quite a bit of contact.

Klay is a critical piece of the Warriors’ future, something the organization made abundantly clear by refusing to include him in any trade for Kevin Love. Knowing that, even the small risk of losing him to fatigue, overuse or injury cannot be ignored.

At the same time, the benefits of playing for Team USA are significant.

 

Potential Payoff

Curry is honing his skills among elite competition, leading the U.S. in assist-to-turnover ratio while hitting nearly 46 percent of his triples. Kyrie Irving has been a better scorer, but you could make the case that Curry has established himself as the best overall point guard on the roster.

The confidence he’s building in Spain should be a major positive for the Warriors this year.

The same is true of Thompson, who joined Team USA as a specialist but has seen his role grow substantially. Through the Americans’ first seven World Cup games, nobody has played more minutes than Thompson, who has taken the second-most shots on the team and converted at a 50 percent clip overall.

For a guy looking to make the difficult step between “very good player” and “star,” playing with Team USA is an invaluable experience.

In a diary entry penned with Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, Thompson wrote:

I’m super-excited to be playing in this tournament. I’m not playing 45 minutes. I’m playing 20 really-hard minutes. It’s cool playing for the other guys and for your country. It’s going to help me so much going into the season, because I’m playing with guys who are better than me.

Thompson may say he’s playing with guys who are better than he is, but he’s conducting himself like a player who genuinely believes he belongs in their company. That’s huge.

We can look to players of the past who parlayed international competition into career breakouts as well. Derrick Rose won his MVP award the season after he starred for Team USA in the 2010 World Championships, and Durant took a leap after that same tourney.

Carmelo Anthony reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time in the 2008-09 season after shining in Beijing. Kobe Bryant won his fourth ring (and somehow played all 82 games) that same year after serving as the veteran heart of Team USA’s gold medal squad in China.

Consider, too, that guys like Curry and Thompson probably wouldn’t be sitting on the couch with their feet up if they weren’t in Spain right now. NBA players work out and play plenty of hoops over the summer, and logging 20 minutes per game against good competition is a good use of that offseason time.

 

Risk Rewarded

Ultimately, Curry and Thompson are putting themselves at risk by playing for Team USA. Golden State is depending on its backcourt for production, a playoff berth in the upcoming season and perhaps most importantly its identity.

The Dubs were actually a defense-first outfit last year, but to the casual basketball fan, they were best known for their sweet-shooting backcourt. With new head coach Steve Kerr implementing an offensive system that should free up the Splash Brothers for more shots and even bigger roles, we could see them become even more important to the team’s success.

The Warriors should be worried. It’s only natural.

But they should also be excited because they might be watching their two key players take the steps needed to lead the Warriors to the next level.

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Warriors sign guard Leandro Barbosa (Yahoo Sports)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors have signed guard Leandro Barbosa.

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Jerry West Agrees to 2-Year Extension with Warriors: Latest Details and Reaction

In the aftermath of Mark Jackson’s firing, numerous reports surfaced highlighting a tense relationship between the then-Golden State Warriors head coach and team executive Jerry West. The Warriors further solidified their siding with West on Wednesday, agreeing to a two-year extension that runs through the 2016-17 season.    

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News first reported the deal. West, 76, was nearing the end of his original three-year contract he signed in 2011. The Hall of Fame guard is officially considered a consultant to owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers, but it’s widely known his role is much deeper than someone who typically holds that position. (West is also a minority owner of the franchise.)

As Kawakami notes, West and new head coach Steve Kerr were at the forefront of an internal push to hold Klay Thompson from any potential Kevin Love trade. The Warriors front office was reportedly split on the potential move, with West and Kerr desiring to keep Thompson’s two-way skills as a complement to Stephen Curry. Others in the organization viewed him as expendable in a deal for Love, one of the half-dozen best basketball players on the planet.

“For us to have two young players back there who like each other, very cohesive and more importantly are going to we think get better and get better together, even though you want to add a quality player, we’ve got a real quality backcourt,” West said in July, per Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group. “It’s hard to get rid of something that’s really good.”

West and Kerr ultimately won out. Love was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers last month in a package centered on 2013 and 2014 No. 1 picks Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins.

Thompson, who is currently with Curry as part of Team USA’s World Cup team, is nonetheless miffed at the organization, per Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. It’s very likely the Warriors will have to soothe that wound over with a flashy new contract before the Halloween deadline—possibly up to the five-year max.

West, while best known for his playing days as a Laker and his silhouette serving as the NBA‘s logo, is also one of the best executives in basketball history. He has won six championships as an executive—all with the Lakers—and shares a ton of credit for the team’s Showtime era. He was named the NBA Executive of the Year two times, most recently in 2004.

In addition to his work in Los Angeles, West was also the Memphis Grizzlies’ general manager from 2002 to 2007. While he’s largely stayed out of the spotlight since returning from his retirement three years ago, West’s voice has lent credence to a once-floundering organization. 

The Warriors, who made the playoffs once from 1994-95 to 2011-12, have gone to the postseason each of the last two years. It’s hard to tell where West’s influence begins and where the buck stops with Myers, one of the NBA’s better executives in his own right.

But with Myers and West both signed to long-term extensions, the powers in charge of the Golden State renaissance are in place for the foreseeable future. Let’s see if their plan to hold the core intact works.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Warriors GM Bob Myers agrees to 3-year extension (Yahoo Sports)

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 20: Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors shakes hands with General Manager Bob Myers at a press conference on May 20, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers has agreed to a three-year extension that will keep him under contract through the 2017-18 season. A Warriors spokesman confirmed the agreement late Thursday night. Myers has been Golden State’s general manager since April 2012 and has been a key cog in the franchise’s turnaround. The Warriors have reached the playoffs the past two seasons, and Myers has helped assemble a talented young nucleus around All-Star point guard Stephen Curry.


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Warriors GM Bob Myers agrees to 3-year extension

Warriors general Bob Myers agrees to 3-year extension through 2017-18 season

      
 

 

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Diagnosing the Golden State Warriors’ Biggest Weakness in 2014-15

The Golden State Warriors have made significant strides under the new ownership of Joe Lacob and company by winning 51 games last year, but there are still weaknesses that need fixing.

The realistic goal of this franchise is to win its first NBA title since the 1974-75 season. To accomplish that goal, the team needs to fill some holes on its current roster and improve upon certain statistical categories like turnovers and lack of free-throw attempts.

Those statistical areas are keys that the team needs to focus upon, but those groups are not the main focus going into the season.

The biggest area of weakness from last season’s squad was by far the lack of bench support. The team didn’t have a reliable option to run the second-team offense, until Steve Blake was acquired late in the season.

The team finished 24th in the league with only 28 points per game coming from the reserves. The offense stalled, and Harrison Barnes’ anticipated breakout season did not materialize.

 

Repairing the Bench Unit


Management saw the writing on the wall and signed Shaun Livingston to fill a huge hole at the backup point guard position. The 28-year-old veteran received a three-year deal, where he can provide quality support for All-Star guard Stephen Curry and also play beside him.

Livingston is a proven guard who can find his teammates in penetration or take it to the rack himself. The biggest benefits of the signing are that Curry no longer has to play 40 minutes a night and Livingston can generate an offense. 

To complement Livingston, the Warriors recently signed free-agent shooting guard Leandro Barbosa to a one-year veteran’s minimum deal. The 11-year shooting guard still has excellent speed and knows how to find the rim

Barbosa has playoff experience in his time with the Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers, so he should be another glue guy for this up-and-coming squad. He will also be able to give the Warriors brass another year to evaluate Nemanja Nedovic, who hasn’t yet met expectations.

The Dubs inked former Warrior, Brandon Rush, to a two-year deal. He returns to the team to provide quality defense and the ability to spread the floor with his jumper.

The Warriors also signed Aaron Craft, James Michael McAdoo and Mitchell Watt after being impressed with the trio during the summer.

 

Strong Going Forward

The Warriors are more closely identified by the Splash Brothers—Thompson and Curry—than anyone else on the roster, and they can keep that affiliation because the price tag of Klay Thompson was too high to convince the Warriors to part with him in a package to acquire forward Kevin Love.

Golden State believes that Thompson’s potential is still climbing upward, and general manager Bob Myers did not want to give up his strong defense or be handcuffed with Kevin Martin’s salary.

In that contemplated deal, the Warriors would have given up Thompson, but they would have also dispersed forwards David Lee, Harrison Barnes and maybe even Draymond Green. That deal could have stripped the Warriors’ cupboard of some of their most valuable pieces.

The remaining forwards left would have been Andre Iguodala, who was named to the 2013-14 NBA All-Defensive First Team, and Marreese Speights, who had an off year last season and was arrested for a DUI in the offseason.

As a result, the Warriors will move forward with the talent that they have and work to space the floor with Coach Steve Kerr’s new offensive system. There will be an intense battle for playing time at the 3 position with the likes of Iguodala, Green and Barnes fighting for key minutes. 

 

Center of Discontent

With four of the five positions covered, center is the area in which the Warriors could be the most exposed. Last season’s seven-game series versus the division rival Los Angeles Clippers is proof that Golden State is vulnerable, if Andrew Bogut gets injured.

Bogut is healthy at the moment and should be returning in his best shape since joining the team. Coach Kerr already has a plan in place to get Bogut more involved in the game plan.

The San Jose Mercury News’ Diamond Leung summarizes Kerr’s outlook:


If Bogut remains healthy, he should have his most successful season since 2010, when he severely injured his right arm in a horrific fall on a slam dunk attempt.  The injury has made it difficult for him to consistently put up right-handed shots, even more than four years after it occurred.

The biggest question that remains is whether the big center can be healthy for a whole season.  

Since Jermaine O’Neal is still considering retirement and has not re-signed, the first center off the bench is Festus Ezeli. He has not played since the 2012-13 season because of an injury to his right, for which he surgery in June 2013. Ezeli was expected to return in February 2014 but instead missed the entire season, including the playoffs. He was forced to miss summer league, too.

Coach Kerr hopes that he will be back by October for the start of the regular season.

Ezeli is hard worker, who is spending a lot of time at the gym rehabilitating. However, will his game be that much improved compared to where he left off at the end of the 2012-13 season? At that time, he was a solid defender, but his offensive moves were few and far between. He has been playing pickup games over the summer to get his explosiveness back

As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons reported, Kerr will use Mo Speights as a backup center and pick spots for Ezeli to reacclimate himself to the NBA game.

The other backup big man is Ognjen Kuzmic, who barely got his feet wet as a rookie for the Warriors. He spent more time with the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA D-League than he did on the floor with the big club and even missed time with a hand injury.

Kuzmic did have a successful run with the Santa Cruz team, as he led the league in rebounds per game, offensive rebound percentage and total rebound percentage.

Kuzmic will now have to see whether that D-League success can translate to the NBA. He will have to work on his offense and passing to fit into Kerr’s new system.

 

The Bottom Line

This year’s team is very explosive with great balance on both ends of the floor. The players should improve upon last season’s record, if they can successfully implement and adjust to Kerr’s system.

Klay Thompson is excited to return to the Warriors and for the prospects of the season, but in an article by the Mercury’s Marcus Thompson II, he states that health is a major factor.

Absolutely…I think a lot of it hinges on our health. Our ability to improve our offense. Me and Curry have another year together. Another year with Andre Iguodala. Another year under the belt for Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. We know what we’re going to get from David Lee consistently. Andrew Bogut’s coming in healthy. If Festus comes back and play like he did his rookie year, that’s huge. We’d have another big body and we need that, especially in the West. It’s going to be a grind.

The linchpin of the team’s potential progress is the center position. Warriors’ coaches and fans will cross their fingers and hope Bogut holds up, especially come playoff time.

If Bogut gets significantly injured or gets hurt at an inopportune time, GM Myers may have to find a trading partner to get an experienced backup. If the injury occurs at a time like last season, the team might have the same fate, depending on the postseason opponent.

It is a gamble, but with the team toeing the luxury-tax threshold, the Warriors will take that chance and see how far this roster can take them.

 


 

 

 

 

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