- NBA.com examines the story and upcoming season of Kevon Looney, who’s set to enter his fifth campaign with the Warriors this fall. Looney, 23, holds career-averages of 4.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 14 minutes per contest. “As the game goes on and players get tired, Loon gets more and more rebounds,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He just has a knack for the ball. Really long arms. Great feel for the game. And so his rebounding… really a big key for us.”
- Glenn Robinson lll is set to bring hops and an offensive spark to Golden State in his first year with the team, as detailed in a separate article from NBA.com. Robinson signed a free-agent deal to join the Warriors this summer after concluding his fifth NBA season. “When I was with the Pacers, I guarded the best player on the court whenever they came on, and I look forward to doing that this year with a defender like Klay [Thompson] (recovering from injury),” Robinson said.
Rookie Ky Bowman is thrilled to have an opportunity with the Warriors after being passed over on draft night, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Bowman signed a two-way deal in July and is hoping to work his way into a standard contract.
“It all starts with being undrafted, knowing I got a lot more to prove to the teams that didn’t draft me and to show the kids back home that you can make it if you put your faith and your work into it,” he said. “I’ve just been praying and working every day and every night, being in the gym on nights that people (hang out). It was a commitment to myself to be successful.”
Bowman had a rough introduction to the league as part of the Warriors’ Summer League team, averaging 2.3 PPG and shooting just 22% from the floor in four games. He said he has learned a lot more during offseason workouts with his new teammates.
“A lot of people don’t get here, it still doesn’t feel real, but it’s an honor to get here,” Bowman said. “I’m trying to embrace every moment, trying to pick up things from the guys who are here. Even when I am guarding Stephen Curry), learning different moves that he’s doing, things I’m trying to work on to become as good as a player.”
There’s more Warriors news to pass along:
- Two knee specialists believe Klay Thompson is taking a significant risk by planning to play this season, relays Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Dr. Tim Hewett, a who has studied the biomechanics of the knee for the Mayo Clinic and served as director of Ohio State’s Sports Health and Performance Institute, and Dr. Christopher Nagelli of the Mayo Clinic presented a paper recently suggesting that athletes with ACL tears should rest for two full years. “Please do share that with Klay,” Hewett said. “… People don’t like to hear it but it does not change the facts, and that facts are that you’re at risk for re-injury before two years and you won’t be the same player in the first year.”
- Former Warriors player Mike Dunleavy Jr. is rising in influence as the team’s assistant GM, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Dunleavy had served as Golden State’s Eastern scout since 2017 and watched D’Angelo Russell in person more than anyone else in the organization. He played a key role in finalizing a sign-and-trade once GM Bob Myers learned that Kevin Durant was joining the Nets.
- NBA.com takes a look at the Warriors‘ three draft picks, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall and Alen Smailagić, and what they might be able to contribute this season.
With NBA training camps right around the corner, several more teams filled their 20-man offseason rosters this week. The Hornets did so on Monday, with the Mavericks, Pistons, Raptors, and Hawks following suit over the next few days. Those clubs join a list of 16 total teams that don’t have any openings on their offseason rosters.
Of course, every NBA team with a full 20-man roster is carrying multiple players who have non-guaranteed contracts, so it’s not as if any of them would be hamstrung if they really want to sign another player. But for now at least, it appears as if those 16 teams have their 20-man squads set for when camps get underway at the end of the month.
That leaves 14 clubs that still have open roster spots, as our tracker shows. Here’s a breakdown of those teams, along with my speculation on whether we can expect them to make moves within the next week or two:
19 players under contract:
- Golden State Warriors
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Sacramento Kings
- Washington Wizards
None of these teams are carrying 15 players on fully guaranteed contracts, so it’s possible they’ll still add a veteran player who could earn a regular season roster spot. But it’s more likely that they’ll each sign another young player who could end up in the G League, since all four teams have their own NBAGL affiliates. The Wizards, who need to add some point guard depth, are said to be eyeing Chris Chiozza for their final spot.
18 players under contract:
- Boston Celtics
- Denver Nuggets
- Houston Rockets
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Orlando Magic
- Phoenix Suns
- Portland Trail Blazers
While it’s not official yet, the Celtics essentially have a full roster. Kaiser Gates and Yante Maten have both reportedly agreed to Exhibit 10 contracts with the Celtics, but have yet to finalize them. Once they’re under contract, Boston’s 20-man roster will be full.
The Magic could also have a full 20-man roster if and when they complete their reported agreement with Isaac Humphries and sign first-round pick Chuma Okeke. The Pelicans, meanwhile, reportedly reached deals with undrafted rookies Jalen Adams, Javon Bess, and Aubrey Dawkins, but there’s only room for two of them on the roster, so unless New Orleans plans to waive a player, the team won’t be signing all three.
The Rockets are signing Thabo Sefolosha and would have room for one more camp invitee, while I’d expect the Suns to invite two more young players to camp with them.
The Nuggets and Trail Blazers don’t have their own G League affiliates, so they may not fill out their rosters unless they just need healthy bodies for camp.
17 players under contract:
- Brooklyn Nets
- Chicago Bulls
- Oklahoma City Thunder
All three of these teams have their own G League affiliates and should fill out their camp rosters with young players who can play for the Long Island Nets, Windy City Bulls, or OKC Blue. Of course, rumors continue to swirl that the Nets are eyeing Carmelo Anthony, but I wouldn’t expect the Bulls or Thunder to be seeking any veteran help.
Despite their disappointing showing at the 2019 World Cup in China, USA Basketball has retained the No. 1 seed in FIBA’s international rankings, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. World Cup champion Spain is at No. 2, followed by Australia, Argentina, and France.
FIBA’s rankings account for results from the last eight years, so the fact that Team USA won the 2014 World Cup and took home gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics keeps the program at the top of that list for now.
Meanwhile, FIBA also announced this week that the 24-team field is set for next summer’s Olympic qualifying tournaments. Eight of the 12 spots in the 2020 Olympics have already been claimed, but 24 countries will have a chance to compete for the final four spots. Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Serbia, and Slovenia – all of whom should have NBA players on their rosters – are among the teams competing in those qualifiers.
Interestingly though, those Olympic qualifying tournaments are scheduled to take place between June 23-28, 2020, so it’s not clear whether members of next year’s free agent class will be willing to participate — suffering a major injury in those games would impact their earning potential a week later.
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- Ethan Strauss of The Athletic polled a dozen executives around the NBA about the 2019/20 outlook for the Warriors, Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets. The consensus? Those execs unanimously agreed that Golden State will make the playoffs, and believe that the Clippers are a better team than the Lakers. They’re also not convinced that the Rockets will be much better after swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook.
- The NBA announced this week that the annual NBA G League Winter Showcase will have a new tournament format this year. The event, which will take place in Las Vegas from December 19-22, will feature a $100K prize for the winning team. That prize will have to be split among all the team’s players, but it still represents a nice bonus, considering the NBAGL’s standard salary is $35K.
- In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Danny Leroux explains how an over-the-cap, below-the-tax team that re-signs a player using Bird rights can essentially turn that player into a “walking trade exception” by overpaying him to some extent. Leroux points to Darius Miller of the Pelicans as one example. Miller probably wasn’t getting a $7.25MM salary from any team besides New Orleans, but that contract could be a useful salary-matching piece for David Griffin during the season, whereas a minimum deal wouldn’t have been.
Despite a torn ACL that will sideline him for most of the upcoming season, Warriors guard Klay Thompson is committed to representing his country in the 2020 Olympics, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.
“I would love to play (for) Team USA,” Thompson said. “That is the plan. I would love to be on the Olympic team.”
Thompson was part of the team that went undefeated during the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Although he shot just 36.4% from the field in eight games, he averaged 9.9 PPG as the Americans cruised to the gold medal.
He would love for his next Olympic experience to include his fellow Splash Brother, Stephen Curry, who had to withdraw in 2016 after suffering an MCL sprain in the playoffs. Although they’ve never played in the Olympics together, Curry and Thompson were teammates on the gold medal squad in the 2014 World Cup.
“That would be amazing,” Thompson said about the possibility of teaming up with Curry in the Olympics. “Amazing. Because even when we played in the World Championships together, we were barely on the floor together.”
The Americans are coming off their worst international performance since NBA players began participating in 1992, finishing seventh at this year’s World Cup. That was preceded by a series of big names declining invitations to training camp or pulling out before the final roster was announced, but it appears that won’t be a problem in 2020. Thompson, Curry and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard have already announced their intentions to play in the Olympics.
“It was hard to watch us lose,” Thompson said. “Those guys, they sacrificed their summers for that. I’m not going to dog them for losing, though. The world is good.”
Because he’s a superstar in a smaller market, speculation about Giannis Antetokounmpo leaving Milwaukee figures to continue until the 2019 MVP inks a long-term extension with the Bucks.
Rumors about the Warriors looming as a threat to lure Antetokounmpo to the Bay Area popped up this week during a Ramona Shelburne appearance on ESPN’s Get Up (video link). That chatter has some within the NBA worried that Golden State will again shift the league’s landscape within the next couple years. However, it doesn’t appear that Milwaukee is worried about that scenario.
“Keeping Giannis, it’s a focus obviously,” a Bucks front-office source tells Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “But fighting the Warriors is not a focus. The Warriors are not the concern in the least. They’d have a long way to go to get him to Golden State, they’d have to give away a lot. He has never given any indication that he wants to leave Milwaukee. So a lot of that stuff, it is more chatter than anything.”
Antetokounmpo, who can’t hit the free agent market until the summer of 2021, is eligible to sign an extension with Milwaukee next offseason. The Bucks plan on offering him a super-max deal as soon as they are able to.
As for the Warriors, they currently have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and D’Angelo Russell on maximum-salary contracts, with Draymond Green making close to the max. Those four players will earn a combined $137.8MM during the 2021/22 season, so as Deveney’s source notes, Golden State would have to make some serious roster changes to realistically make a play for Antetokounmpo.
Count Stephen Curry among the potential Team USA players who didn’t participate in the 2019 World Cup but is interested in helping the program recapture gold at the 2020 Olympics. Speaking to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (link via Nick Friedell at ESPN.com), the Warriors‘ star said that he intends to join Team USA in Tokyo next summer, health permitting.
“That is the plan, for sure,” Curry said. “You know, obviously knock on wood, you don’t want any injuries or things like that to interfere. … [I] definitely want to go. I’ve never been on the Olympic team. I’ve been on two World Cup Championship gold medal teams. But the Olympics is the experience that I want. And next year will hopefully be it.”
Besides Curry, a handful of other stars have spoken out in recent days about being part of the USA Basketball roster in 2020. Some, like Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker, were part of this year’s World Cup roster and have expressed interest in representing Team USA again at the Olympics. Others, like Curry and Damian Lillard, passed on participating this year but would like to play next summer.
Of course, before Team USA makes any decisions on its 12-man roster for Tokyo, we’ve got a full NBA season to play. In his conversation with Nichols, Curry offered several thoughts on the upcoming year and looked back at Kevin Durant‘s free agent decision. Here are a few of Curry’s most notable comments, via Friedell:
On Durant’s decision to leave the Warriors for the Nets:
“At the end of the day, we live in an age where choice at the forefront, and K made a decision for himself and you can’t argue that. I wish we could still play with K. He’s an unbelievable talent, unbelievable person. We accomplished a lot together. But things have changed a little bit. So you obviously wish him the best, obviously with his recovery first and foremost and things on and off the court. But we’re gonna have to battle down the road. So this should be a fun, new experience on that front too.”
On potential “load management” during the 2019/20 season:
“I want to be smart about what I’m doing. I doubt there will be any games where I’m playing 48 minutes (laugh). I could, but that’s not part of how you achieve greatness, at the end of the day, for what we’re trying to accomplish, which is a championship. So everything’s going to be in light of trying to get another banner. All the other stuff is — it’ll take care of itself.”
On the possibility of winning his third MVP award this season:
“I always say, I’m playing like I’m the best player on the floor no matter what the situation is. That’s my mentality. It might not mean I’m taking every shot, but that’s the aggressiveness that I need to play with and the confidence I need to have. So, that’ll carry me the rest of my career. And at the end of the day, winning an MVP would be special. And it’s something that I’ve experienced before and would love to experience again. I’d love to push the envelope and push the limits a little bit. [But] you won’t see anything different about how I play this season versus years past.”
In the wake of Team USA’s flop in the FIBA World Cup, Warriors forward Draymond Green wants to play in next year’s Olympics, he said in a CNBC interview relayed by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Brian Witt. Green anticipates that many other stars who skipped this year’s event will also want to wear the Team USA uniform in Tokyo.
“I do hope to play, and I think a lot of guys will want to play,” the Warriors’ three-time All-Star said. “The schedule this year was a little treacherous with the games that were in America, and also the travel to Australia, which is why I think a lot of guys dropped out. You know, a long ways to China.”
- Warriors GM Bob Myers called Shaun Livingston’s story “one of the most inspirational in the history of professional sports” in a statement released by the club. Livingston announced his retirement on Friday. “What he accomplished after suffering so many trials and tribulations early in his career is a true testament to who he is as a person, which has always been characterized by tremendous class, grace and professionalism,” the statement read in part.
“After 15 years in the NBA, I’m excited, sad, fortunate and grateful all in one breath,” Livingston wrote. “Hard to put into a caption all of the emotions it takes to try and accomplish your dreams.
“I wasn’t supposed to be here. Anybody that has beat the odds understands the mental and emotional strain it takes to inspire yourself on an uphill war, let alone inspire others. ‘The injury’ gave me a chance to find and prove to myself (and the world) that I wouldn’t be defined by my circumstances. With my time in the League what I will be most proud of is the fact that my character, values and faith were tested, and I persevered.”
The fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft, Livingston began his NBA career with the Clippers and was on the rise when his development was derailed by a catastrophic knee injury in his third season. In addition to tearing his ACL and PCL, Livingston also dislocated his kneecap, tore his lateral meniscus, sprained his MCL, and dislocated his patella.
While there were doubts about his ability to return as an effective NBA player following that injury, Livingston eventually made his way back to the court and appeared in over 800 more games (including the playoffs) for the Heat, Thunder, Wizards, Bobcats, Bucks, Cavaliers, Nets, and Warriors.
Livingston, who turned 34 years old on Wednesday, was a key contributor off the bench for Golden State during the team’s recent run of five consecutive NBA Finals appearances. During those five years, the 6’7″ guard averaged 5.4 PPG and 2.4 APG in 367 regular season contests (17.5 MPG) and won three titles with the Warriors.
Livingston was released earlier this summer before his contract for 2019/20 could become fully guaranteed because the Dubs were obligated to keep team salary below a hard cap. It’s not clear if he would have played one more season in Golden State if the club had been able to keep him on its roster or if he would have ultimately decided to retire anyway.
For what it’s worth, a report at the time of his release indicated that Livingston intended to continue his career. Assuming that report was accurate, it seems the Illinois native either had a change of heart or didn’t find an opportunity he liked.
Livingston’s next step is not yet known, but a July report suggested the Warriors would likely offer him a role in the organization upon his retirement.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Kevin Durant left the Warriors because he wasn’t able to find the family atmosphere he wanted, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Durant got the championships and individual awards he was seeking when he signed with Golden State three years ago, but as he indicated in a Wall Street Journal interview this week, he couldn’t be part of the organization in the same way that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala were.
Poole notes that Durant was impressed by the closeness those four players displayed when they came to the Hamptons to recruit him in 2016. That influenced his decision, but he still felt like an outsider. He wasn’t drafted to the organization like Curry, Thompson and Green, and he wasn’t instrumental in the Warriors’ first title in 40 years the way that Iguodala was.
Poole adds that the family dynamic faded over Durant’s three years with Golden State as players spent more time with their actual families. The Currys had two more children, Iguodala got married and Green became more devoted to fatherhood. Green was a close friend for Durant in his first season with the team, but he hung out with DeMarcus Cousins more often last year.
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Steve Kerr tells Joe Vardon of The Athletic that it’s going to be like “Year 1” as he guides a much different Warriors roster. While many key pieces are gone from the championship years, Kerr said surviving while Thompson heals from a torn ACL will be the biggest challenge. “Losing Kevin, Andre, Shaun (Livingston) obviously, those are huge losses,” he said. “Losing Klay on top of all that really changes the way we’re going to have to play at both ends. Klay was always an integral part of everything. Movement on offense, but also the guarding of the ballhandler on defense, switching onto bigs. So until he gets back, we’ve got to re-imagine everything and adapt accordingly.”
- The Lakers are seeking a disabled player exception after Cousins’ injury, but it’s likely just a tool that may be used later in the season, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. There are few options who could make a difference at a $1.75MM salary, which is half of what Cousins is owed. However, minimum contracts decrease through the year, and the DPE will be more valuable once buyout season arrives.
- Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic will be competing not just for minutes in the Kings‘ backcourt, but for contract extensions as well, notes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.