Dejan Milojevic

Warriors Notes: Porter, Iguodala, Payton, Looney

Injured Warriors role players Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., and Andre Iguodala were all able to fully partake in a relatively light team practice on Tuesday, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The team has a full contact practice scheduled for Wednesday. According to Slater, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr indicated he should have a better sense of the injured players’ availability for the start of the series following that session.

There’s more out of Golden State:

  • Payton is “trending” toward being a game-time decision for Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals, slated to tip off on Thursday, per Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link). “We still got some boxes to fill,” Payton said of his availability, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (via Twitter). Payton has been sidelined since suffering a left elbow fracture in Game 2 of the Warriors’ conference semifinals series against the Grizzlies.
  • Payton won the NBA’s 2021/22 Bob Lanier Community Assist Award this season, the Warriors announced in a press statement. The honor is meant to reward players for outstanding community outreach. The league and award sponsor Kaiser Permanente will donate $75K to Payton’s charity, the GPII Foundation, which helps young people struggling with language-based learning disabilities.
  • Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic has helped Golden State starting center Kevon Looney gobble up rebounds like never before, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Thompson notes that Looney is grabbing 21.6% of possible rebounds when on the court during the 2022 playoffs. Should the trend continue, that would be a top-50 all-time postseason rebounding rate. “Rebounding is something that I’ve always enjoyed,” Looney said. “I made a lot of strides this year. I feel like I’ve always been pretty good at it. I always have my moments. But this year I’ve been way more consistent, and really more locked in on it, and that’s been able to make a difference.”

Warriors Notes: Bjelica, Porter, Poole, Rookies, Iguodala, Kerr

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes that adding veteran forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter in free agency should help make Golden State a better three-point shooting team in 2021/22, as he tells Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.

Kerr called the signing of Bjelica “really exciting,” pointing out that the Warriors haven’t really had a floor-spacing, pick-and-pop big man since Marreese Speights, who generally shot from the mid-range rather than from beyond the arc.

“I look at Bjelica as the three-point-shooting version of Mo, in many ways,” Kerr said. “Because all of a sudden, you’re looking at a spaced floor when you consider Klay (Thompson)‘s return and Steph (Curry)‘s play last year. The ability to play Bjelica with Draymond (Green), which basically turns Draymond into the five and the pick-and-roll guy with Bjelica spaced. Really exciting.”

Kerr also praised Porter, referring to him as a player who can guard multiple positions on defense and who isn’t just “going to stand in the corner” on offense.

“The whole thing with Otto is health now,” Kerr told Kawakami. “He feels like he’s healthy and we’re going to give him every opportunity to get himself in shape and in rhythm. If he can return to form, then he’s a really, really interesting player for us. Somebody who could play an important role.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Asked by Kawakami about lineup and rotation decisions to start the season, Kerr predicted that Jordan Poole will be the Warriors’ starting shooting guard until Thompson is ready to play, and said it’s “impossible to say” yet whether either Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody will play regular minutes.
  • Kerr recognizes that trading Andre Iguodala in 2019 was necessary in order to get below the hard cap, but is thrilled to have the veteran forward back in Golden State, as Kawakami relays. “I think when we lost him, we lost a piece of our soul,” Kerr said of Iguodala. “… Andre’s return, I think, is huge in a lot of different ways. First, he’s still got plenty to offer, as he showed in Miami the last two seasons. So his addition on the court will be huge for us. And second, he just embodies everything we’re about — versatility, sacrifice, the clear defining of roles, the mentoring that he brings for the younger guys. You throw all that into the equation and Andre is just an enormous addition for us.”
  • Kerr, who won a gold medal in Tokyo as an assistant coach for Team USA, was asked by Kawakami if he’d be interested in becoming the club’s head coach in 2024, assuming Gregg Popovich doesn’t return. His reply: “Of course I’d be interested. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I’ll leave it at that. I have no idea how it will all transpire; there are a lot of great candidates out there. And if I were to be considered, that would be an honor.”
  • The Warriors issued a press release today officially announcing a series of previously-reported additions to Kerr’s coaching staff, including Kenny Atkinson, Dejan Milojevic, and Jama Mahlalela.

Kenny Atkinson To Join Warriors As Assistant Coach

Former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson has reached an agreement to become one of Steve Kerr‘s lead assistants with the Warriors, according to Anthony Slater and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Atkinson, who spent this season as a lead assistant with the Clippers, would join Mike Brown in the role, giving Golden State two ex-head coaches as Kerr’s top assistants, sources tell the authors. Atkinson would replace Jarron Collins, who parted ways with the team last month.

The 54-year-old Atkinson was considered as a possible candidate for the head coaching vacancy in Orlando. He served as head coach in Brooklyn from 2016 to 2020 and has previous experience as an assistant with the Knicks and Hawks.

Although he was dismissed after clashing with Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Atkinson did an admirable job of making the franchise competitive again and helped develop young players such as Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and D’Angelo Russell.

Along with Atkinson, the Warriors will also add Dejan Milojević and Jama Mahlalela to their coaching staff, according to The Athletic’s sources. Milojević specializes in working with big men, while Mahlalela has been part of the Raptors‘ development staff since 2013.

Warriors Notes: Milojević, Wiseman, Lottery, Floor Spacers

Dejan Milojević, who coached Mega Basket in Serbia from 2012-20 before joining Budućnost for the 2020/21 season, will join the Warriors‘ staff for the ’21/22 campaign, according to a report from Montenegrin outlet Vijesti. Anthony Slater of The Athletic confirms that the Warriors and Milojević have agreed to terms on a deal, and says an official announcement is expected in the coming days.

As Slater details, Milojević has a good record of developing big men, having most notably coached future NBA MVP Nikola Jokic for three years in Serbia before Jokic arrived stateside. Milojević will take on a player development role with the Warriors and will assume an “important level of responsibility” in the growth of last year’s No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, Slater writes.

Here’s more out of Golden State:

  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Slater examines what’s at stake for the Warriors in next Tuesday’s draft lottery, outlining the best- and worst-case scenarios for the team’s own pick and the Timberwolves’ top-three protected selection. As Slater notes, the worst-case scenario is harder to pinpoint — having the Wolves’ pick slip to eighth, ninth, or even 10th obviously wouldn’t be ideal, but if Minnesota hangs onto it and then takes a major step forward next season (when the pick would be unprotected), that might be even worse.
  • While the return of Klay Thompson will add another three-point threat to the Warriors’ roster next season, Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area suggests the team could benefit from adding another floor-spacer and identifies Bobby Portis as a player who should be of interest in free agency.
  • In case you missed it, Warriors forward/center Draymond Green is among the first players to commit to Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics this summer.