Nemanja Bjelica

Warriors Notes: Curry, Thompson, Veterans, Make-Up Game

The season is unraveling for the Warriors at a really bad time, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Golden State fell to the Lakers Saturday night, extending its losing streak to four games for the first time this season. The team has fallen into third place in the Western Conference after going 2-8 in its last 10 games, and Stephen Curry understands that something needs to change.

“We cannot give in to this losing mentality,” he said. “We’re not that team, and I’m not going to let us be that team. … We cannot give in to this losing spirit of just finding different ways to lose basketball games. We have 18 games left, we have to figure out how to turn things around pretty quick.”

The Warriors are dealing with a variety of issue, with the most notable being the absence of Draymond Green, who hasn’t played since January 9 but hopes to be back in “a couple weeks.” However, the problems go beyond Green, Andrews adds, as Golden State has been struggling with missed free throws, a drop in bench production and executing late in games, which coach Steve Kerr blamed for Saturday’s loss.

“I thought we had several chances to really break this game open,” Kerr said. “This has kind of been a pattern during this bad spell for us. We are not stepping on teams when they are down. We are making mistakes and allowing teams to hang around. And when you do that in this league, you’re dead.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Another concern is a shooting slump by Klay Thompson, who is going through his worst stretch since returning from a long injury-related layoff, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Thompson was just 3-of-13 Saturday night, including an important miss on a wide open three in the final two minutes. “Klay’s pressing,” Kerr said. “He got into a pretty good groove over the month or so before the All-Star break, and I feel like the sickness, the illness that kept him out of a couple of games probably affected his conditioning and his timing. So, he struggled the last two games. He’ll get it back.”
  • The Warriors are getting quality minutes from their young players, but many of the veterans they signed during the offseason aren’t producing right now, Slater adds. Andre Iguodala has only played one six-minute stretch since January 20, Nemanja Bjelica is losing his spot in the rotation and Otto Porter Jr. hasn’t been the same since January ended.
  • Kerr expressed frustration over the league’s decision to schedule a make-up game Monday at Denver and said he won’t have Curry, Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and possibly a few other players make the trip, according to Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. “We are not sending a lot of our players to Denver,” Kerr said. “The decision was pretty easy. Throwing that game (originally scheduled for December 30) into the schedule the way the league did after that game was postponed and then going back to Denver — three games in four nights, with two of those games being back and forth, we’re not gonna put our high-minutes guys at risk.” 

Warriors Notes: Poole, Wiggins, Klay, Lesser-Paid Players

At 29-7, the Warriors have the best record in the NBA, a half-game ahead of the Suns. One key to the team’s success this season has been the maturation and development of third-year guard Jordan Poole, who’s being groomed to become Golden State’s new sixth man, as Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic detail.

Poole’s situation on the club is unique, in that he’s the only young player to have a consistent rotational role. He describes the dynamic as being akin to a middle-child.

The dynamic is what you see,” Poole said. “I’m not the youngest. I’ve been around for a little bit, but I’m kind of like the only one in the middle of the pack. The older bros have been through it. Sometimes we’re gonna throw you with the young guys, sometimes you can come with us. Essentially, it’s the middle-child treatment.”

Slater and Thompson write that Poole is known for having an excellent work ethic; the Warriors have data showing he’s in the gym more than any player on the team. Veteran Andre Iguodala, the team’s former sixth man, has taken Poole under his wing. As a third-year former first-round pick (28th overall in the 2019 draft), Poole is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

The new sixth man is getting $20 million a year,” Iguodala said. “That’s the bottom offer for a guy like that, the Tyler Herros and Jordan Pooles. You got those few guys who are starters but for teams they are on, they’re sixth men. You don’t have a problem with going above and beyond taking care of them because you know they’ll be a staple player for your franchise.”

In 30 games (28 starts) this season, Poole is averaging 18.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists in 30.1 minutes per contest. He also sports a .454/.348/.887 shooting line, good for a 59.3 true shooting percentage.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

Warriors Notes: Kuminga, Moody, Lee, Atkinson, Bjelica

There’s a possibility that Jonathan Kuminga – who has been dealing with a right knee injury – will be active for the first time on Saturday, head coach Steve Kerr said today (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). Kuminga went through a 3-on-3 workout today and the club will likely make a decision tomorrow on his status.

As for the team’s other lottery pick, Moses Moody was assigned today to the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League. However, after playing in Santa Cruz’s game tonight, he’ll back with Golden State on Saturday, tweets Slater. If Damion Lee, who is questionable with a shoulder contusion, is unable to play tomorrow, Moody could see some action, Kerr said (Twitter link via Slater).

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • It’s just not Warriors players who are on the mend from injuries — assistant coach Kenny Atkinson injured his leg during a recent workout and will be off the bench indefinitely until the injury heals, according to Slater (Twitter link).
  • Nemanja Bjelica has been known primarily as a shooter since entering the NBA, but he’s proving this season with the Warriors that he has a more well-rounded game, writes Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s a great passer, and just a really good basketball player,” Kerr said. “… I think that’s who our team has always been. That’s why guys with good feel have always been a great fit with us. He’s absolutely a great fit. The guys love playing with him. The ball moves when he’s out there, he spaces the floor, and he forces the defense to react. He’s a fun guy to play with.” Bjelica signed a one-year, minimum-salary deal with the club in August.
  • In case you missed it, Golden State exercised its 2022/23 team options on Jordan Poole and James Wiseman, guaranteeing their salaries for next season.

Pacific Notes: Anthony, Fizdale, Bradley, Bjelica

When he joined the Lakers, Carmelo Anthony knew he’d be coming off the bench, just like he did last season with the Trail Blazers. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times wonders if Anthony might be a candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award this season.

For his part, Anthony is more focused on team success than individual accolades at this point in his career.

[It’s] understanding what I have to do in those roles in order to help this team,” Anthony said. “So, in my mind, it’s not about winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. It’s about being the best sixth man for our team, if that’s the case. Knowing that, I have something to look forward to night in and night out, knowing that I got to come in fully prepared and ready to go.

I think having that mentality kind of forces you or pushes you to play at a high level every night. Right?” Anthony said. “And not look in front of you or besides you and say, ‘I got so-and-so, I got this, I got that, I got that.‘”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers assistant coach David Fizdale is back home in Los Angeles and happy to be there, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. Goon takes an in-depth look at the veteran coach, who grew up in the L.A. area rooting for the Lakers.
  • Avery Bradley, whom the Lakers claimed off waivers, recently opened up to Bill Oram of The Athletic about missing the team’s title run during the 2019/20 season. Bradley wanted to be with the club, but chose to opt out of the bubble to protect his son, who had a severe case of pneumonia in 2019. “We play this game for our family,” Bradley said. “Of course I love the game of basketball. That’s how I take care of my family is this game. It would be backwards if I didn’t focus on my family first.” The interview is worth reading in full.
  • The Warriors‘ Bob Myers recently stated that the team tried to trade for free agent acquisition Nemanja Bjelica last season, writes Alex Didion of NBC Sports Bay Area. “We tried to trade for him a few times last year and just couldn’t find the right deal for (the Kings) and us, and then he got moved to Miami and never really got a foothold there,” Myers said Thursday morning on 95.7 The Game. “We’ve always liked him because we thought he could fit what we do, which is what you guys see, it’s a lot of read and react stuff, lot of randomness.

Warriors Notes: 15th Roster Spot, Thomas, Wiseman, Wiggins

The Warriors will hold an open competition in training camp for their 15th roster spot, according to Taylor Wirth of NBC Sports Bay Area. Appearing on Tim Kawakami’s “The TK Show,” coach Steve Kerr said the team hasn’t decided to definitely carry 15 players, but several candidates will be considered when camp opens next week.

“The way we’re looking at it is that it’s up in the air,” Kerr said. “We may or may not use it, but that’s what training camp is for. You get a really good look at some guys, there are some really interesting names, people who are really proven players in the league. You get a chance to get a good look at those guys and some young guys who are trying to make it in the league.”

Gary Payton II, who has a non-guaranteed contract, is among the players in contention for that final spot, along with Mychal Mulder. The team also reportedly reached deals today with Langston Galloway and Avery Bradley, who will both be in the running for a roster spot.

“We’re just kind of leaving everything open and figuring this is what camp is for, you get a really good look at somebody, you throw them out there in exhibition games and you figure out exactly how you’re going to put your roster together,” Kerr said.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Isaiah Thomas had a “strong” week of workouts with Golden State, but left town without a deal, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. As Slater explains, Thomas remains on the lookout for an opportunity where he’d have a clearer path to a regular season roster spot.
  • Also on The TK Show, Kerr lamented that James Wiseman‘s development will be slowed by not having a full training camp for the second straight season, relays Alex Didion of NBC Sports Bay Area. After sitting out camp with COVID-19 as a rookie, Wiseman will be limited this year as he continues to recover from meniscus surgery. “He will be involved in camp, he’s going to be doing some drill work and he’s going to be part of things,” Kerr said. “The rehab is actually going really well, he’s really coming along and feels good. But because of the nature of the rehab, he has to take his time with contact and the full range of things he’s going to need to be able to do.”
  • Andrew Wiggins, whose playing status is uncertain while he remains unvaccinated, is currently restricted to individual workouts at Chase Center, tweets Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. San Francisco requires people to show proof of vaccination before they can enter indoor venues, and Poole states that Wiggins won’t be permitted to continue his workouts if he doesn’t receive the vaccine in the next 20 days.
  • The Warriors didn’t make any splashy moves during the offseason, but president of basketball operations Bob Myers is satisfied with the additions of Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica on veteran’s minimum contracts, telling Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle“We added three minimum players, and that may not look like much, but it wasn’t easy. All three were in demand. We are excited. What they’ll become is to be determined, but we targeted those guys. We made a good effort to get them and convince them that we were the right place for them.”

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.

Free Agency Roundup: Rose, Bjelica, Suns, Vanderbilt, Niang, Schroder

Derrick Rose had received interest from the Pelicans, Wizards, Bulls, and Heat before re-signing with the Knicks, write Jeff Zillgitt and Mark Medina of USA Today. The USA Today adds that Kyle Lowry signing with the Heat helped usher Rose back to the Knicks and coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose agreed to a three-year, $43MM deal on Monday.

In the same piece, Zillgitt and Medina write that five other teams considered signing Nemanja Bjelica with their mid-level exception, but Bjelica prioritized signing with the Warriors instead. Bjelica agreed to a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum earlier today.

We have more free agency rumors:

Warriors Sign Nemanja Bjelica

AUGUST 6: The Warriors have officially announced their deal with Bjelica, confirming the move in a press release.

Despite reportedly receiving interest from several other teams willing to offer more than the minimum, Bjelica said his decision to sign with Golden State took “less than a minute,” per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link).


AUGUST 3: Free agent forward Nemanja Bjelica has reached agreement on a one-year contract with the Warriors, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Heat acquired Bjelica from the Kings at the trade deadline in March, but he played in just 11 games for Miami, averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per night. He had been relegated to a bench role in Sacramento after being a starter for the past two seasons.

The 33-year-old gives Golden State another veteran shooting option as they try to move back into title contention. He had the best year of his NBA career in 2019/20 with the Kings, putting up 11.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 2.8 APG on .481/.419/.821 shooting in 72 games (27.9 MPG).

The Warriors still have their taxpayer mid-level exception to make further moves, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, who reports that Bjelica’s deal will be worth the veteran’s minimum (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Beal, James Jones, Butler, Bjelica

Bradley Beal of the Wizards is getting a first-hand look at what a Hall-of-Fame coach looks like, and he’s loving it, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“(Gregg Popovich is) perfect, man,” Beal said. “He’s an awesome coach to be around and his energy, his intensity, it just trickles down to everybody. It’s contagious.”

The timing is interesting, Hughes notes, as the Wizards are currently in the midst of a coaching search. Whomever the Wizards hire will be the third head coach of Beal’s career, and now that Beal has experience playing under Popovich, it will be interesting to see what he makes of the new hire. It’s been reported that Beal will have input in the decision.

We have more notes from around the Southeast Division:

  • In his latest mailbag, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel discusses the question of whether the Heat missed an opportunity by not doing more to keep Suns GM James Jones – 2021’s Executive of the Year – in the Heat organization. It’s unlikely Jones would’ve gotten the same opportunity that he got in Phoenix as quickly in Miami, Winderman concludes.
  • Much has been made of Jimmy Butler‘s combative nature, Winderman writes, but Heat legend Chris Bosh says some of that is the nature of the NBA, and that competitive fire looks different when the team is winning versus when it’s losing. “There’ll always be reports of conflict when the season isn’t that good. The conflict is different. When they’re winning and arguing, it’s great, it’s a great thing,” Bosh said. “What I find is most important, is you have to talk about it. We’re all adults, right?”
  • Winderman also checks in with Heat free agent Nemanja Bjelica on the heels of Serbia’s elimination from the Tokyo Olympic qualifying tournament last weekend on their home floor. “Disaster, it is fair to say, failure,” Bjelica said. “We are always expected to always win. The only thing left is that we wanted to make these people happy. I can only apologize, if it means something. I will take responsibility as a player with the most experience here.”

Rosters Announced For Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Four qualifying tournaments to determine the final four teams in the men’s basketball pool at the Tokyo Olympics are set to tip off on Tuesday. In advance of the Olympic qualifiers, the 24 teams involved have officially set their 12-man rosters, according to a press release from FIBA.

More than two dozen current NBA players are participating in the tournament, and 11 of the 24 teams competing for Olympic spots have at least one current NBA players on their respective rosters. Of those clubs, Team Canada has the biggest contingent of NBA players — eight of the 12 players on Nick Nurse‘s squad finished the season on an NBA roster. Turkey is next with four NBA players.

The four qualifying tournaments will take place in Serbia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Canada. Only the winner of each six-team group will advance to Tokyo. Those four winners will join Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, Iran, France, Spain, Australia, and the U.S. in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

The teams that move onto the Olympics may tweak their rosters for Tokyo, depending on the availability of certain players. For instance, if Greece were to win its qualifying tournament, perhaps Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo – who remains active in the playoffs for now – would make an effort to join the team in Tokyo next month.

Here are the NBA players on the OQT rosters:

Belgrade, Serbia

Kaunas, Lithuania

Split, Croatia

Victoria, Canada

There are also many former NBA players among the 24 rosters, including Mario Hezonja (Croatia), Milos Teodosic (Serbia), Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), Timofey Mozgov (Russia), and Anthony Bennett (Canada).

To view the full rosters, be sure to visit FIBA’s official site and click through to each team from there.