Andrew Wiggins

Warriors Notes: Kerr, Wiggins, Trade Exception

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr plans to take a relatively relaxed approach to the team’s offseason mini-camp, scheduled to start next Wednesday. Anthony Slater of The Athletic spoke with Kerr about his approach to the workouts, as well as his thoughts on the recent additions of former team guards Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa to the team. Livingston will be joining the team in a front office role, while Barbosa will serve on the coaching staff.

“We need some young legs on our coaching staff and our players need mentors,” Kerr told Slater. “That’s one of the things I’m so excited about for both Leandro and Shaun joining us. The players need someone they can talk to, go to and ask what it’s like and get an answer from someone who has been in their shoes, literally, in the last couple years.

Here are more Warriors notes:

  • Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area makes the case for why the Warriors should retain, not trade, wing Andrew Wiggins during the 2020 offseason. Wiggins has three years left on the five-year, $148MM contract extension he signed in Minnesota circa 2017.
  • Assuming that the capped-out Rockets will look to make the bulk of their roster transformations through trades that could help the team and save money, Grant Lill of NBC Sports Bay Area thinks that the Warriors could use their $17MM trade exception on either Houston forward Robert Covington and guard Eric Gordon. Covington will collect $25MM over the next two years. Gordon inked a four-year, $75MM extension that will compensate him through the 2023/24 season.
  • In case you missed it, several front offices believe the Warriors would prefer to use their pick in the 2020 draft on a wing. Should Georgia swingman Anthony Edwards be selected with the top pick by the Timberwolves, the team may trade down rather than select point guard LaMelo Ball or center James Wiseman.

Western Notes: Wiggins, Nurkic, Daniels, Davis

Warriors coach Steve Kerr sought input from Tom Thibodeau after the team acquired Andrew Wiggins back in February, Marc Berman details in a story for the New York Post.

Thibodeau, who coached Wiggins in Minnesota from 2016-19, gave Kerr advice on how to maximize Wiggins’ game and playstyle. Golden State traded for Wiggins in a deal that shipped away D’Angelo Russell, acquiring a wing they hope can succeed alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

“We had just traded for Andrew Wiggins and he was really helpful,’’ Kerr said. “I had a long conversation with [Thibodeau] about Andrew. He gave me some good advice on ways to connect with Andrew, how much he enjoyed coaching him and why. We’ve gotten to know each other over the years. [Thibodeau has] been very helpful to us.”

The Timberwolves fired Thibodeau in January of 2019 after he reportedly failed to connect with a number of his players. Wiggins didn’t appear to be one of these players, however, as Kerr explained. It’s a vital reason why Kerr was elated to hear Thibodeau’s advice, along with how he’s a proven, veteran NBA coach.

“He showed some X’s and O’s and went over some actions they ran for [Wiggins],” Kerr said. “Some of the things they were trying to do. The thing with Tom is he’s a workaholic, loves the X’s and O’s, loves breaking down film and takes great joy in it. Our staff values his opinion.’’

“What is apparent is he and Andrew had a great relationship and Andrew said that as well. I know Andrew told me he really enjoyed playing for him and appreciated his commitment. When a coach knows his stuff and gets along with his players, he’s got a great chance to succeed. I think Tom’s got a great shot.’

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • The Blazers are rallying around Jusuf Nurkic as his grandmother battles COVID-19, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes. Nurkic learned the news last week and immediately urged his grandmother to visit a hospital. “I think people don’t realize that s— is real out there, man,” Nurkic said. “We’ve been fortunate to be here and in a safe environment, being tested every day, but please … take care of yourself. Wear your damn mask … if you are outside, by yourself, do what you got to do. But if you are inside … protect people.”
  • Nuggets guard Troy Daniels discussed his time with the Lakers, his path to Denver and more in an interview with Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Daniels was waived by the Lakers on March 1 and signed with the Nuggets four days later. “Early in my years, my agent used to tell me, he said it’s always good to be wanted,” Daniels said. “It’s good to feel wanted, and I want to be where I’m wanted.”
  • The Lakers could benefit from keeping Anthony Davis active by ensuring that he gets plenty of shots, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. Davis scored just 14 points in the team’s loss against Toronto on Saturday, shooting just 2-of-7 from the field. However, he believes he made the right decisions based on how the Raptors were guarding him. “We didn’t shoot the ball extremely well tonight at all from the field or from 3, which kind of let them continue with their game plan of doubling me,” Davis said. “I think if we had made a couple of shots, then they would’ve definitely changed a little bit.” 

Warriors Notes: Adams, Wiggins, Haliburton, More

Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams transitioned into a new role this year, traveling with the team less and stepping away from coaching on the bench as he assumed more player development responsibilities. As he tells Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, Adams found that transition challenging at times.

“I think when you’re used to being in the fight and you’re not in the fight, that adjustment is a hard one,” Adams said. “But having said that, I enjoyed the year. … Change is difficult, especially when you’ve done the same thing for a number of years, as I have. But it was probably necessary. We have a lot of good young coaches; they need to develop. And hopefully, I can be a part of that process. But yes, not being in the fight was difficult.”

Adams, who signed a one-year contract with the Warriors last summer, expressed interest in returning to the team for the 2020/21 season, despite the fact that he’ll turn 73 years old later this year.

“I would like to come back, yeah,” he told Kawakami. “I have no reason not to. I want to be involved.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • During his conversation with Kawakami, Adams offered some interesting insights on a number of Warriors players, including newly-acquired forward Andrew Wiggins, whom Adams referred to as “a really, really outstanding all-around player,” specifically praising his defense. “I was elated to get him into our program,” Adams said of Wiggins. “I think he’s a star player. I think he’s gonna flourish with more shooting on the floor. But I was personally really happy with the all-around nature of his game and what he showed in that regard more so that his scoring, even.”
  • Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle has heard that the Warriors have Tyrese Haliburton ranked as the top point guard on their 2020 draft board, ahead of LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, Cole Anthony, and others. Letourneau says he expects Golden State to “seriously consider” Haliburton if the team is drafting between No. 2 and 5.
  • Elsewhere in his mailbag, Letourneau discusses whether the Warriors would consider trading Draymond Green, why the team reopened its practice facility even though its season likely over, and whether Marc Gasol is a realistic target in free agency.

Pacific Notes: Hield, Wiggins, Harrell, Vassell

The Kings will likely give Buddy Hield the opportunity to bounce back next season rather than explore trades, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Hield’s four-year, $106MM extension kicks in next season and even though he lost his starting job this season, his shooting ability is not easily replaced. Sacramento has invested heavily in Hield’s development, though economic issues created by the pandemic could change the team’s approach.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors didn’t acquire Andrew Wiggins from the Timberwolves with the intention of flipping him for another star player, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. While they will aggressively pursue trades for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bradley Beal and other All-Stars, they anticipate Wiggins being their starting small forward next season, Slater adds.
  • The Clippers would be better off trying to re-sign Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson rather than giving big money to unrestricted free agent Montrezl Harrell, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. Harrell’s role won’t expand in the future the way the current roster is constructed. The lack of other two-way wings in the 2020 free agent class makes Morris more valuable, while Jackson could get more playing time in Los Angeles going forward after an impressive stretch before the stoppage of play.
  • Wing Devin Vassell of Florida State would be an ideal building block for the Kings as a late lottery selection, Richard Ivanowski of the Sacramento Bee argues. Vassell is the best team defender in the draft class, an above-average perimeter shooter and has a high motor, Ivanowski adds. Vassell is currently ranked No. 16 overall by ESPN.

Joe Lacob Unsure How Hiatus Will Impact Warriors’ Future Spending

The Warriors, who wouldn’t have hosted any playoff games this spring if the NBA season had played out as scheduled, may not be the team hit hardest by the league’s indefinite suspension. However, owner Joe Lacob admitted that the lost revenue as a result of the hiatus and its potential impact on the salary cap going forward have created uncertainty about Golden State’s future spending ability.

Appearing on The TK Show with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, Lacob was asked whether the Warriors still plan to go full-steam ahead next season, using their $17MM trade exception and full taxpayer mid-level exception to bolster their roster. As Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area relays, Lacob has adjusted his stance a little since declaring last February that the franchise can “do whatever we want” financially.

“We’re looking obviously at all of those questions and the possible answers,” Lacob said. “But I don’t really have a good sense yet because I really have no idea how this is gonna shake out. We don’t know what the salary cap is going to be, we don’t know what the luxury tax is going to be, so we don’t really know what we can plan on at this point. We just have to look at a lot of different scenarios, and that’s what we’re doing right now. (The NBA’s stoppage) could make a huge difference and it might make no difference.”

When Kawakami pointed out that the Warriors may have a limited window of opportunity to continue competing for championships, given that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are all now in their 30s, Lacob acknowledged that the team still wants to take advantage of that window as best it can.

“That was our plan and still – until further notice – is our plan for next year and the next few years,” he said. “However, a lot of things could change. And we’re going to have to adjust, just like every other team’s going to have to adjust, to whatever the new world order is, to whatever the new situation is in the NBA.”

During his half-hour conversation with Kawakami, Lacob addressed a few other topics of interest. Here are a few of the highlights from the discussion, which is worth checking out in full for Warriors fans:

On the Warriors’ draft plans:

“We’ve never spent more time as a group on the draft as we have this year. Obviously we have a lot more time to do it, we all do. I have watched videos of probably all the top players at this point. I’ve watched interviews, I’ve watched high school highlights, AAU highlights, like everybody else. … I think there’s enough information out there and enough work that’s being put in our side that we’ll be able to make a good decision and try to help our team.

“We’re going to look at all scenarios. … We’re going to look at drafting someone at our position, we’re going to look at maybe we trade down. I’m not saying that’s preferred or not preferred, I’m just saying it’s something we have to look at. We’re going to look at all options and we’re going to figure out a way to have our team be the best possible team that it could be for this year, but still with an eye toward building for the future.”

On signing D’Angelo Russell to a four-year contract and trading him seven months later:

“We thought (acquiring Russell in a sign-and-trade) was a great opportunity to be able to get a player in the wake of losing a Kevin Durant. To get anything of that quality was just an advantage, whether it worked out or not. We did not do it just for that reason, but we did it because we thought he could potentially be a part of what we were building for the future.

“That wasn’t without risk. We all understood that he was another guard, so we had to wait and see how it all worked out. I think as time went on we obviously began to take a little bit different look at the whole thing in terms of the fit, and even though he’s a good guy and really performed quite well for us, I think we all made the decision that perhaps there was a better fit out there than that. … Maybe it could have worked out, but we made the decision – right or wrong, we’ll find out – that (Andrew) Wiggins would be the better fit for us. And we think it’s a great fit, actually.”

On finding the silver lining in Durant’s decision to leave Golden State:

“He wouldn’t have played this last year, he was injured. We would have had a huge payroll as a team. So I think maybe this is the best thing. We’re able to start a rebuild a little bit earlier than we otherwise might have, and maybe it’ll prove to be the right thing in the long run that that occurred. I’m an optimist, I always look at things for what’s the positive in the situation. Yes, he left, that’s negative, but the positive is we got a chance to move forward quicker and to move into the next phase of what we’re doing.”

On NBA teams reducing certain employees’ salaries and/or furloughing staffers:

“There are no plans like that with us. … I think at this point in time, knowing what we know… our view is that we need and value all of our employees. We spent a lot of time hiring these people and training them and building up this organization to be a really good one, and I don’t want to tear it down unless for some reason we really had to, if there was economic calamity.”

Warriors Notes: Curry, Wiggins, Green, Looney

Stephen Curry returned to the Warriors‘ lineup on Thursday night after missing more than four months due to a broken left hand. And while they couldn’t pick up a home win vs. the Raptors, the Dubs gave the defending champions all they could handle and looked like they were having more fun with their superstar back on the court.

Andrew Wiggins, who was acquired by Golden State a month ago in a deadline trade with Minnesota, was on the court whenever Curry was on Thursday, with head coach Steve Kerr aiming to establish some chemistry between the new teammates. As Nick Friedell of ESPN.com relays, Wiggins expressed enthusiasm after the game about playing alongside Curry for the first time.

“He makes everyone great,” Wiggins said of the two-time MVP. “He makes everyone play better. He finds open men. He’s like the most unselfish superstar. That’s a good way to put it. He attracts so much attention that he’s going to find the open man, and he makes the right play, so it was fun.”

The Warriors are still an NBA-worst 14-49, but Kerr believes Curry’s return represents a turning point for the team. The veteran head coach, who said that Curry felt good after playing 27 minutes and will get his minutes ramped up going forward (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic), added that he expects to feel a “sense of energy and enthusiasm” in Golden State for the rest of the season.

“To me, this is sort of the beginning of next season in a lot of ways; and I think we’re all starting to get some clarity as far as what our team’s gonna look like,” Kerr said, per Friedell. “And having Steph back is, obviously, a huge, huge part of that now. The next step will be getting Klay (Thompson) back, but that won’t be till next season. But I think these last 20 games are really going to be a springboard into next year, so I think that energy will be high and remain high.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Draymond Green missed his fourth consecutive game with knee soreness on Thursday, but an MRI showed no structural damage, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “I know he would’ve loved to have played tonight, but the training staff just doesn’t feel comfortable putting him out there yet,” Kerr said. “We’re hoping that in the next couple of days it’s something that clears up.”
  • While it sounds like Green should be back soon, that may not be the case for another injured big man, Kevon Looney. He has missed three straight games with hip soreness, an injury Kerr referred to as “a concern,” per Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. The Warriors expect to have a more concrete update on Looney later today.
  • After a month with the Warriors, Wiggins said on Thursday that he feels “right at home” with his new team, according to Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. “It’s all been positive here. Just learning how they do things and what it’s like to be a part of a winning culture,” Wiggins said. “I feel like it was time for a change and this is the best fit that could have happened for me, so I’m happy.”
  • Wiggins hasn’t confirmed one way or the other whether he intends to suit up for Team Canada during the 2020 Olympic qualifying tournament this June. However, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse – who is coaching Canada’s national team – is optimistic that the Warriors forward will participate, as Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca relays (via Twitter).

Curry Scrimmages, Confirms March 1 As Target Date To Return

Stephen Curry has cleared another hurdle in his quest to return to action March 1, relays Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Team doctors cleared Curry for full contact and he participated in his first scrimmage today since breaking his left hand in late October.

Speaking with reporters afterward, the Warriors guard confirmed that he has set next Sunday as his target date to return to action. Although he will need another positive week of rehab to make that happen, all indications are that the healing process is nearly complete.

Curry explained the details of the injury, which involved nerve damage in addition to the break. That’s why his recovery time will be about four months, rather than the usual two when a clean break happens.

“This was a serious one that had a lot of nuances to it with the two surgeries and the nerve damage and stuff I’m still dealing with,” he said. “Everything is new. If it was an ankle thing, I’d tell you everything every step of the way.”

Curry also shared his memories of the play, which happened when Suns center Aron Baynes tried to take a charge on a drive to the basket. Both players fell to the court and Baynes landed directly on top of Curry’s hand, causing the damage. Because Curry is right-handed, the injury shouldn’t affect his shooting, but Slater notes that much of his game is based on the ability to dribble, pass and make layups with either hand.

“I’m getting used to what the new normal is,” Curry said of the recovery process. “It definitely feels different than the right (hand). But you try to get to the point when you’re playing basketball, you don’t think about it — whether it feels all the way same or not, it doesn’t really matter, as long as I’m not worried about the things I’m trying to do, the strength part of it and how it bounces back the next day after pushing it in contact stuff. … Anybody who has had surgery knows it takes a long time to get back to true normal. Functionally speaking, where I’m not out there on the court thinking about it, that’s where I’m trying to get it to.”

With Klay Thompson already sidelined with a torn ACL, Curry’s injury eliminated any chance the Warriors may have had to reach the playoffs. Golden State is focused on returning to title contention next season, and Curry believes the team added an important piece in the deadline deal that brought Andrew Wiggins from the Timberwolves.

“I’ve been watching and seeing what he’s capable of on a nightly basis,” Curry said. “He’s a walking 20 points. The intangibles he can bring, in terms of speed, cutting, length on defense, all those things, will be a fun process to build that chemistry. This is a 15-month journey to spring next year.”

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Clippers, Wiggins, Kings

Former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson says his longtime team is “playing the best out of anybody” in the Western Conference right now, but acknowledges that the Clippers may have the deepest roster of the two Los Angeles teams, writes Mark Medina of USA Today.

“If you look at man-for-man, (the Clippers are) probably better than (the Lakers) in terms of the bench,” said Johnson, who predicted the two L.A. clubs would meet in the Western Finals. “… Anthony Davis and LeBron James, to me they are going to be the key and they are going to have to dominate in that series. Then we’re going to need that third scorer (to step up).”

While the Clippers have solidified their rotation by trading for Marcus Morris and reaching a deal to sign Reggie Jackson, the Lakers have been quiet this month. They’re still monitoring the buyout market as they consider how to improve their title chances, according to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Assuming the Clippers finalize their reported deal with Jackson today, they’ll still be $767,620 below the tax line, giving them enough breathing room to remain below that threshold even if and when they sign a 15th man, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
  • Andrew Wiggins has yet to evolve into the sort of lock-down defender that many talent evaluators believed he could become out of college, but Draymond Green is confident that the newly-acquired Warriors forward can still reach that level, Slater writes for The Athletic. “I think he can be an All-Defensive player. That’s one of my goals for him,” Green said of his new teammate. “As a leader of this team, that’s one of the things I really want to push him on.”
  • In his latest mailbag for The Sacramento Bee, Jason Anderson answers questions related to Vlade Divac‘s future, Marvin Bagley III‘s health, and possible roles for Alex Len and Jabari Parker. Anderson doesn’t believe Divac’s job will be in jeopardy this spring, but says the GM’s seat could get hot next season if the Kings are healthier and still don’t take a significant step forward.

California Notes: Wiggins, PG-13, Kings, Lakers

New Warriors wing Andrew Wiggins, the centerpiece of a trade that sent D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota, is off to an excellent start with his new team, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, is a reclamation project in what amounts to a redshirt year for Golden State.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is grateful to have part of a season to develop Wiggins in the 12-43 Warriors’ motion offense before Golden State’s Big Three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is fully reinstated next fall.

“He’s a great weapon to have, and we’re still learning how to use him,” Kerr said of Wiggins. “We’re going to experiment with some things the last couple months of the season.” The 12-43 Warriors have ruled Thompson out for the entirety of the 2019/20 season.

There’s more out of California:

  • After Clippers star forward Paul George critiqued a disparity of foul calls favoring the home Sixers in a 110-103 Philadelphia victory as ”home-court cooking,” the NBA fined George $35,000 on Thursday, as NBA.com details.
  • Several factors will determine how the Kings close out the stretch run to what has been disappointing season, according to James Han of NBC Sports California. The development of core Kings players De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Harrison Barnes is a crucial element.
  • The 41-12 Lakers boast the best odds in the Western Conference (+180) to win the NBA title, per Caesars Sportsbook, writes David Purdum of ESPN. Los Angeles has a four-game lead on No. 2-seeded Denver (38-17) for the best record in the West.

Timberwolves Owner Talks Saunders, D-Lo, Wiggins

Although Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas is responsible for making roster decisions in Minnesota, any trade requires the approval of owner Glen Taylor. As such, Taylor was very involved in basketball decisions at this year’s trade deadline, when the Wolves traded away half their roster in a series of major deals.

In a conversation with Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune, Taylor said that he and Rosas “talk quite often” and that the team had spent much of the season preparing for moves like the one that sent Robert Covington to Houston and especially the one that saw D’Angelo Russell land in Minnesota.

Taylor said he’s “excited” to have acquired so many promising young players that are in the same age range as Karl-Anthony Towns, suggesting that the team’s hope is for those players to continue to improve and grow together.

Taylor’s conversation with Hartman included a handful of other noteworthy comments, including the Wolves owner’s thoughts on head coach Ryan Saunders‘ job security, trading former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, and more. Here are a few of the highlights:

On whether he has considered replacing Saunders during the Timberwolves’ current 6-29 stretch:

“No, no, no, he is hired. A young guy and he is going to get better as time goes on and we just have to give him that time.

“[Saunders] is excited about this change that now he has guys that can play the kind of basketball he wants. He is really a believer in the three-point shot, moving the ball fast, and getting up and down the court. He needed some players that were better three-point shooters than what we had previously.”

On the front office continuing to push for Russell after completing its Covington trade:

“They kept working on Russell, that was the main thing that they wanted to accomplish. They were able to do that and get two young guys out of Denver (Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez) that were part of our hopes for the future. It just dragged on — these things are difficult — almost to the last few hours before everything fell into place. But it was very interesting to me that normally if part of this would have fell into place, we would have been happy. But in this particular case, everything went our way. We think we have helped our team and we have probably helped some other teams. It is probably a win-win.”

On Wiggins becoming easier to move this season than he was last summer:

“I don’t think there was any secret to that. Andrew worked really hard. He didn’t have the best year last year, and we worked really hard with him this summer to improve and I think we saw some improvements. That allowed us to have the chance to make a trade this year where last year I don’t think it was there with any team.”

“… I think [Warriors head coach] Steve Kerr said it exactly right, this should be a win-win. Us getting Russell should really help us and them getting Wiggins on their team should really help them. Wiggins won’t be expected to be the main scorer. He can fit in with their team. I’m hopeful it works out for him, and I’m confident it will work out with Russell on our team.”