Golden State Warriors

Finals Notes: West, Pachulia, Williams, Coaches

The Warriors would like to extend the contract of executive board member Jerry West, relays Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News. Golden State owner Joe Lacob said there have been contract talks with the Hall of Famer, whose current deal runs out in July. Nothing has been finalized, and negotiations are on hold until the playoffs are complete. “We have met; we have discussed the future,” Lacob said. “And it’s really something that I’m sure at the end of the season we will return to and figure out what Jerry wants to do. We want him back. We love him. He’s been a great contributor to the organization, someone I consider a personal friend as well.” West indicated several months ago that he might be interested in rejoining the Lakers in an advisory role, but the team’s recent front office shakeup may have eliminated that as an option.

There’s more tonight as we count down to the start of the Finals:

  • Warriors center Zaza Pachulia has fully recovered from the heel problem that kept him out of Games 3 and 4 of the conference finals, relays Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News. Pachulia has been medically cleared and was a full participant in Golden State’s last three practices.
  • The Cavaliers’ bench had a productive game in the clincher of the Eastern Conference finals, which offers hope for the series against Golden State, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Deron Williams, who signed with Cleveland in late February after being waived by Dallas, is excited about reaching the NBA Finals for the first time. “Twelve years in the league,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you don’t know if it’s ever going to happen and don’t know if it’s going to happen again so for me I just want to make the most of this opportunity, enjoy it, soak it in and try to win a ring.” 
  • Warriors acting head coach Mike Brown claims Cavs coach Tyronn Lue still owes him $100 from a bet they made in 1998, Fedor notes in a separate piece. Lue claims he has tried several times to pay off the wager, which was related to a shooting contest, but Brown won’t take the money. The stakes will be much higher starting Thursday when they oppose each other for an NBA title.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Vogel, Reed, Hawks

Kevin Durant‘s decision to use the Magic as an example of a bad NBA organization reflects the team’s reputation around the league, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Railing at suggestions that he helped create competitive imbalance, Durant started his response with, “Like I’m the reason why [expletive] Orlando couldn’t make the playoffs for five, six years in a row?” Robbins notes that new president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and new GM John Hammond will have to overcome that perception before they can attract top-level free agents. Orlando has inherent advantages with a warm climate and no state income tax, but most elite free agents prioritize winning, and that’s something the Magic can’t offer right now.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic CEO Alex Martins insisted that candidates for the newly filled front office positions be willing to work with coach Frank Vogel, relays John Denton of NBA.com. There were rumors during the season that Vogel might be in jeopardy as he led Orlando to a 29-53 record in his first year on the job. But the moves made since the season ended show that blame for the disappointing year fell on the front office rather than the coaching staff. Weltman says he admires Vogel’s coaching ability, and Vogel welcomes the change at the top. “These are very well-respected basketball men who have done a good job and who, quite frankly, know what they are doing and what they are talking about,’’ Vogel said. “I’m excited about the coming weeks, the meetings that we’re going to have and getting to know these guys.’’
  • Willie Reed has a strong desire to stay in Miami, but financial realities might prevent that, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Reed had his first impactful NBA season this year as a member of the Heat, playing 71 games and averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per night. He faces a June 29th deadline to decide on a $1.577MM option for next season and may elect to chase his first-big money deal at age 27. Reed is still working out with the team, but says there have been no discussions with management about his contract status. “We spoke just about how a good season it was and how I progressed and have grown,” he said. “But there haven’t been talks about anything else yet, kind of just coming in here and just working out, making sure they see you and let them know that I love being here and I want it to work out.”
  • After 10 straight playoff seasons, the Hawks need to decide on a direction for their future, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. He notes that Atlanta has limited options heading into the summer because the team’s best trade assets, Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr., are both free agents, and last year’s big signees, Kent Bazemore and Dwight Howard, have experienced declines in their market value.

Poll: Best Unrestricted Free Agent Point Guard

Among unrestricted free agents this offseason, point guard is easily the deepest position. Stephen Curry, Kyle Lowry, George Hill, Jeff Teague, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick Rose headline this group. Deron Williams, Darren Collison, and Patty Mills are also unrestricted free agents. In all, there are 28 unrestricted free agent point guards this offseason.

Two-time MVP Curry has scarcely been mentioned as an unrestricted free agent because most take for granted that he will return to the Warriors to dominate the NBA with the likes of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green for years to come.

Probably the second best player in this group, Lowry, will be coming off a breakout season, but he is 31 years old, has a long history of playoff struggles, and the Raptors would need to offer him a 5-year max contract. Still, Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combine for one of the most lethal backcourts in the league, and it is difficult to imagine Toronto not laying out the red carpet for its star point guard’s return.

After seven seasons with the Hawks, Teague played in all 82 games for the Pacers, averaging 15.3 PPG, 7.8 APG, and 1.2 SPG.

Although limited to 49 games due to injury in his first campaign with the Jazz, Hill averaged a career-high 16.9 PPG to go with an impressive slash line of .477/.403/.801.

Holiday shot a career-high 45.4% from the floor for the Pelicans, posting 15.4 PPG, 7.3 APG, and 1.5 SPG.

Rose, a former MVP, averaged 18.0 PPG and 4.4 APG, while shooting a stellar 47.1% in 64 games in his first season with the Knicks.

Without further ado, here’s today’s poll question: Beyond Curry and Lowry, who among this group would be most helpful for a team to sign and suit up as their starting point guard next season? Don’t limit yourself to a click of a button. Do you believe someone in the group is better than each of the available options? Are we underrating someone’s potential? Let us know in the comment section below. We look forward to your insight!

 

Kevin Durant 'At Peace' With Decision

  • As the NBA Finals approach, Warriors star Kevin Durant is “at peace” with his decision to leave Oklahoma City, relays Sam Amick of USA Today. He bristles at suggestions that his move is behind the lack of parity in the NBA. “Like I’m the reason why Orlando couldn’t make the playoffs for five, six years in a row?” he said. “Am I the reason that Brooklyn gave all their picks to Boston? Like, am I the reason that they’re not that good. I can’t play for every team, so the truth of the matter is I left one team. It’s one more team that you probably would’ve thought would’ve been a contender. One more team. I couldn’t have made the (entire) East better. I couldn’t have made everybody [else] in the West better.”

Hoops Links Vol. 6: Coleman Flashbacks, Biedrins Flashbacks, More

Welcome back to Hoops Links. Here we round up some of our favorite blog content that we come across over the course of the week. As always, we’d like to encourage writers to send us their best stuff for possible inclusion in future editions. Remember, what we’re looking for is unique, entertaining material that showcases why the internet is so gosh darn fun.

Send your best pieces to HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws or simply yell at me on Twitter (@AustinKent). Similarly, you can flag down any Hoops Rumors staffer at a grocery store and immediately hit them up with a choreographed dance routine explaining why your Jared Dudley hot take deserves top recognition in next week’s link dump.

Note: We typically publish Hoops Links on Thursday, but next week’s edition will be published on Friday (June 2). This will be a one-time change so that we can all observe Smush Parker‘s birthday privately with our families. We’ll slide back to Thursday for Hoops Links Vol. 7 on June 8.


Ben Simmons verticalThe skill set that Ben Simmons has shown and the college numbers he produced during his one year at LSU are on par with some of the greatest of our generation. Much of his success, however, will come down to circumstance. Can the Sixers ensure that Simmons is in a situation to live up to his potential? Or, as Kwame Fisher-Jones of the 76er Files cautions, is he destined to underachieve like similarly versatile former Sixers forward Derrick Coleman?

Rating: 8 out of 10 NBA Jam Legends
Author: Kwame Fisher-Jones – @MrJonesNBA
Link: Ben Simmons’ potential


When LeBron James clanged a wide open dunk off the back of the rim in Game 4 of the CavaliersCeltics series, it robbed Kevin Love of a potential Assist of the Year. Not surprisingly, Carter Rodriguez of Fear the Sword has put the wheels in motion to file a formal petition to credit the big man with a much deserved assist anyway. What even is an assist when you think about it, man?

Rating: 9 out of 10 They Have A Points…
Author: Carter Rodriguez – @Carter_Shade
Link: Kevin Love’s outlet assist


In a world where nearly everything that takes place on a basketball court is trackable, the one thing that experts can’t seem to quantify is the impact team chemistry has on success. Brian Freeman of Blazer’s Edge explored the gaps in our understanding of team chemistry and suggests what might play a role in successful organizations capitalizing on it.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Intangibles
Author: Brian Freeman – @BrianFreeman_NBA
Link: Team chemistry in the NBA


The Warriors are the team NBA fans love to hate. Eric He of Blue Man Hoop, however, thinks that everybody needs to slow down, quit hating and actually appreciate the franchise. Given Golden State’s role in revolutionizing the league, he does have a point. Can’t we just be happy for the organization less than five years removed from giving Andris Biedrins a standing ovation for hitting a pair of free throws?

Rating: 8 out of 10 Monta Ellis Scooters
Author: Eric He – @EricHeSports
Link: Appreciating the Golden State Warriors


If Chris Bosh is able to fully part ways from the Heat and work his way back onto a basketball court, the Clippers should take a look at him as a possible reserve big man, Blake Harris of Clipperholics writes. Though his health will always be the most important consideration, Bosh could very well be a major steal for whichever club takes a chance on him.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Mo Speights Replacements
Author: Blake Harris – @BlakeHHarris
Link: Chris Bosh and the Clippers


There’s no denying that Kemba Walker has stepped up as the greatest New Generation Hornets player, but is he wasting his prime toiling away in mediocrity? For Swarm and Sting, Elijah Edwards discusses the idea of letting the point guard pursue success elsewhere if the franchise isn’t able to surround him with the help he needs to compete.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Miles Plumlee Contracts
Author: Elijah Edwards
Link: Trading Kemba Walker


Gordon Hayward verticalWhen Gordon Hayward hits free agency this summer, he’ll do so as perhaps the most coveted, reasonably attainable option on the market. Evan Dyal of Sir Charles in Charge took a good long look at the five most likely destinations for Hayward, delving beyond simply the Celtics and Jazz, two clubs regarded as frontrunners for his services.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Professional StarCraft Circuits
Author: Evan Dyal – @EvanDyal
Link: Gordon Hayward free agency


After his first year at the helm, Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder showed that he’s a worthy starter with plenty of room to grow. Thomas Jenkins of Peachtree Hoops recently broke down what might be in store for the 23-year-old, suggesting that so long as Schroder continues to develop, the club’s future looks bright.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Blonde Patches
Author: Thomas Jenkins – @TJenkins122
Link: Dennis Schroder potential


Admit it, you knew that it wouldn’t be long before the thorough analysis would come regarding whether or not the Celtics truly need Isaiah Thomas. For Nylon Calculus, Ian Levy broke down the situation, including Boston’s improbable Game 3 victory and the squad’s all-around improvement on the defensive end of the ball when Thomas is sidelined. The C’s don’t need to oust Thomas any time soon but they could afford to spare him if the right opportunity arose.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Scatter Plots
Author: Ian Levy – @HickoryHigh
Link: The Celtics without Isaiah Thomas


Don’t expect the fourth pick in the NBA Draft to turn things around for the Suns, Valley of the Suns contributor Robert Neal writes. So how does the franchise, then, figure out where to go after a tanked season gone awry? Neal explores ways the Suns can tangibly improve their roster without relying on a rookie.

Rating: 7 out of 10 #FreeChriss Campaigns
Author: Robert Neal – @RobertN4110
Link: Phoenix Suns offseason

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Success Vindicates Durant's Decision

  • The Warriors’ success is justifying Kevin Durant‘s decision to come to the Bay Area, Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News writes. Durant can become a free agent this summer, but he’s said he doesn’t plan on going anywhere.
  • Golden State has been able to win while transitioning several pieces onto the team. Matt Barnes, who joined the Warriors mid-season, cites the team’s selflessness as a reason for the success, Scott Cacciola of The New York Times relays. “When you’ve got superstars sacrificing and diving on the floor and doing whatever it takes to win, it’s easy for a role player to fit right in.”

Steve Kerr’s Status Remains Uncertain

The Warriors are headed back to the NBA Finals, but they aren’t sure if head coach Steve Kerr will be able to join them, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.

“Just day-by-day,” Kerr told ESPN’s Marc Spears after Golden State finished off a sweep of the Spurs Monday night. Games 3 and 4 in San Antonio marked the first time Kerr has been able to travel with the team since he was forced to take a medical leave of absence midway through the first round.

The Finals don’t start until June 1st, giving Kerr nine more days to recover from lingering complications related to back surgery he underwent two years ago. However, sources say he still has significant pain and his presence in San Antonio and at Game 2 in Oakland aren’t a sign of progress.

Owner Joe Lacob told ESPN his advice to Kerr was to take “as long as he wants” to get back to coaching.

“He is a fantastic coach and a fantastic human being and a great friend,” Lacob said. “I told him the other day, ‘I don’t even want to talk about or think about anything other than winning this championship. You can contribute in any way you can, and we’ll worry about the future in the future.’ He is still here. He’s in the locker room. He’s around. His imprint is all over this I don’t view it as he’s not here; he’s just not on the bench.”

Durant Talks Decision To Join Warriors, Future With Team

Kevin Durant recently spoke with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated to discuss his decision to join the Warriors and his future with the team. Here are the highlights from the piece:

On whether or not he has any regrets about leaving the Thunder:

I made the 100 percent correct decision, win or lose. I feel like this is the place I was supposed to be. I appreciate everything I’ve done before this. But I’m here now, and I feel like it’s a great spot for me to be. This is where I am supposed to be at this point of my life. I’m taking it on and conquering every part of it. I’m enjoying every single step.

On where he’ll be playing next season (He can become a free agent this summer by turning down the player option in his contract):

I love it here. I love my teammates. I love the city [of Oakland]. I love the organization. I love it here. I don’t plan on going anywhere else

On the criticism he received for making the decision to join the Warriors:

I try to play the right way and handle myself the right way. I am just confused as to why that stuff doesn’t matter more than what happens on Twitter or whatever the topic of discussion is each day. I think it takes away from what is most important: that ball and that basket, everything in between the lines. I don’t expect anyone who has never been there before to understand that.

On whether or not the criticism will ever stop:

Somebody is always going to disagree. Somebody is always going to discredit. It’s just a part of life. When you want to do it for each other and for friends and family, that’s when it’s purer than anything.

On the best thing about playing for the Warriors:

You have people here who realize that the most important thing is it’s a game. You have fun. But you also should be passionate and dedicated. That is what everybody’s vision is.

Travis Schlenk Interviewed By Hawks

  • The Hawks have interviewed Wizards VP of basketball operations, Tommy Sheppard and Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk in their ongoing search for a new executive, Marc Stein of ESPN writes.

Kawhi Leonard To Miss Game 3 Due To Ankle Injury

Spurs forward and finalist for the 2016/17 NBA Most Valuable Player award, Kawhi Leonard, will miss Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors tonight due to a sprained left ankle, the team confirmed.

Leonard initially suffered the left ankle sprain in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Rockets, forcing him to miss most of the contest. After also missing the Spurs’ series-clinching Game 6, he returned to play Golden State, but re-injured the ankle on a controversial closeout by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia — who ironically will also miss Game 3 due to an injured heel — in the third quarter of Game 1. Leonard missed Game 2 as the Spurs fell to a 2-0 series deficit.

“In the end, I guess it’s my decision,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters, including Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News, at shootaround on Saturday. “He’s not thrilled that he’s not playing, but he’s not ready, so we’re not going to play him.”

In a separate piece, Rohlin spoke to Leonard about what needs to improve in his ankle before he’s ready to return to the court.

“Just seeing if I can run and at least be myself on the court,” Leonard said. “Don’t want to hobble around or shoot off balance shots. Just want to be able to push with both legs. Just that, really.”

In 12 postseason games, Leonard has averaged 27.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 4.6 APG while providing his usually stellar defense. Instead, the Spurs will enter tonight’s game without its best player as the team tries to salvage a win against the defending Western Conference champions.

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