Dejan Milojevic

Warriors Notes: Curry, Jackson-Davis, Looney, Next Season

The offensive burden on Stephen Curry is greater than ever, Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic writes. The Warriors currently don’t have a steady No. 2 scoring option and they’re 18-20 this season when Curry scores fewer than 30 points.

“We can’t expect to just ride Steph game after game after game,” coach Steve Kerr said, adding, “… We’ve put the burden of this franchise on his shoulders for 15 years.”

We have more on the Warriors:

  • In a subscriber-only story, Kerr tells The Indianapolis Star’s Dustin Dopirak how former Indiana University star Trayce Jackson-Davis has impacted the team in his first season. “Trayce is just incredibly mature for a rookie,” Kerr said. “He’s a little bit like the bigs who came into the league way back when I came in. Lots of college experience. Already grounded in the fundamentals of the game. It’s easy to throw stuff at him, sort of NBA stuff that he hasn’t seen before and expect him to pick up on it because he’s got this great fundamental base.” The second-rounder is averaging 7.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 14.9 minutes through 57 games. He missed Tuesday’s game in Miami due to knee soreness, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.
  • Kevon Looney said he learned valuable lessons from Dejan Milojevic, the assistant who died suddenly in January. “Deki was a great coach. He was brutally honest, but he always had a smile on his face,” Looney told Hoops Hype’s Sam Yip. “He’s always joyful. He made coming into work that much better, and that much more fun. I had the best years of my career learning from him, learning different footwork, learning the different nuances of offensive rebounding, and learning how to finish. He wasn’t the biggest guy, but he scored a lot of points overseas, he was one of the best scorers in his league, and he was undersized. So he taught me different things about leverage, pump-fakes, angles, and different things like that.”
  • While the Warriors haven’t given up this season, they may be looking at next season to make one last push for another championship with this core group, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic opines.

Pacific Notes: Kerr, Milojevic, Bridges, Allen, Dinwiddie

Warriors coach Steve Kerr will miss tonight’s game at Utah so he can attend the funeral of former assistant coach Dejan Milojevic in Serbia, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Kenny Atkinson will run the team in Kerr’s absence. Assistant coaches Chris DeMarco and Ron Adams, general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. and basketball operations consultant Zaza Pachulia are also representing the team at the funeral.

Players admit there’s a surreal feeling to being back in Salt Lake City, where Milojevic suffered a heart attack at a team dinner following a January 16 game. He died in a hospital the following morning, and the team’s next two games were postponed. The Warriors welcomed members of Milojevic’s family to their practice facility on January 22, and his son, Nikola, spent time shooting and rebounding with Klay Thompson.

“Just to be able to tell him how much I loved his dad, all the great memories we built and made together, I just told him how grateful I am for his family and how proud of them he was,” Thompson said.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns were heavily rumored to be pursuing Hornets forward Miles Bridges, but general manager James Jones declined to confirm those trade talks, preferring to concentrate on the deals he actually made (video link from Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic). “We explored everything,” Jones said, “but at the end of the day, we’re talking about Royce O’Neale and David Roddy. Two guys I think are going to be exceptionally well for us, but yeah, we talked about a lot of guys.”
  • Jones also responded to a question about a potential extension with Grayson Allen this summer, indicating the Suns will be open to the possibility (video link from Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports). “We don’t want him to go anywhere, which is why he’s here,” Jones said. “There’s plenty of interest in Grayson Allen, but no one values him more than we do.”
  • Lakers players are excited to welcome Spencer Dinwiddie to the team, per Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. The former Nets guard, who signed with L.A. on Saturday, is expected to participate in today’s practice and be in uniform for Tuesday’s game against Detroit. “He’s a big guard, a shot-maker,” Anthony Davis said. “We’ve seen what he did with Brooklyn, what he did with Dallas, making big plays for them. He’s a well-established player, a vet in this league.”

And-Ones: All-Star Questions, Lillard, Partizan, Wright

After Thursday’s announcement of the 2024 All-Star Game starters, there are several questions to be answered regarding the omissions and potential reserves. A panel of ESPN writers break down the starters and offer their takes on who should have been nominated to start, debating whether standouts like Kawhi Leonard, Jalen Brunson or Donovan Mitchell were wrongfully overlooked for starting spots.

Brunson is a popular pick for biggest snub in the All-Star Game after averaging 26.5 points and 6.4 assists per game  for the surging Knicks. Some writers were surprised by Bucks guard Damian Lillard‘s inclusion as the Eastern Conference’s second guard next to Tyrese Haliburton.

ESPN’s writers seem to believe the Western Conference — so far loaded with the likes of Nikola Jokic and LeBron James — will win the All-Star Game. Outside of that, the writers preview what reserves are battling for All-Star nods this year. As mentioned in the article, Stephen Curry, Anthony Edwards, Devin Booker, Tyrese Maxey, Scottie Barnes, Paolo Banchero, Bam Adebayo, Derrick White and Jalen Williams are among the All-Star caliber players worthy of a nod.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Lillard is set to defend his three-point contest title during 2024 All-Star Weekend, according to Bleacher Report and TNT’s Chris Haynes (Twitter link). Lillard hit 26 of a potential 40 three-pointers last year to claim the crown in Utah.
  • Partizan Mozzart Bet is considering a tribute preseason match against the Warriors in honor of the late Dejan Milojevic, according to The well-regarded coach left an impact on both Partizan and the Warriors, and now the Serbian club is considering pathways to honor his legacy. “That would be phenomenal for both clubs and Serbia. We will send them an invitation, and we are prepared to cover the expenses for the Golden State Warriors’ arrival and stay in our city. The event would be scheduled during the preseason. Dejan was beloved in that NBA team, and needless to say, he left an indelible mark on our club,” Partizan president Ostoja Mijailovic said.
  • Greek club Olympiacos signed former NBA center Moses Wright to a contract for the rest of the season, according to The deal includes a team option for next season. Wright, 25, averaged 1.3 points across four NBA appearances with the Clippers and Mavericks in the 2021/22 season. He saw more action overseas, averaging 26.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in five games in Turkey this year.

Pacific Notes: Beal, Green, Milojevic, Vezenkov

Bradley Beal lost a chance to play in the last Olympics after being placed in COVID protocols, and it doesn’t appear he’ll be part of this year’s event either, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The Suns star wasn’t included on the 41-player pool list that was released Tuesday.

“It’s a difficult exercise because we have so many talented players and so many guys who one could make an argument for being on the list,” USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill said during a media conference call. “I had some great conversations with Brad last summer. That was tough. Tough decisions to get it to 41. I’ll be honest. I didn’t think we would be at 41. I thought we would have fewer names. I thought maybe 30 and it was really hard to get to 41 and I imagine it will be very difficult to get to 12.”

Beal remains a productive scorer, averaging 18.0 PPG in his first season with Phoenix, but injuries likely factored into the decision to keep him off the pool list. Beal has been limited to 50 and 40 games the past two seasons, and he has only appeared in 20 of the Suns’ first 44 games.

“I’ll say this with history as sort of a guide here,” Hill added. “A lot can, and will, happen between now and July and we’ve added players to that list. We’ve been fluid at times. We’ll continue to monitor, we’ll continue to evaluate and we’ll see where we are when we get on that plane and head overseas.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors forward Draymond Green was also noticeably absent from the pool list, and Hill indicated that his two suspensions this season played a role in the decision, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “His contributions have been significant, and he is a real part of the legacy of this organization for his excellence,” Hill said of Green, a two-time gold medal winner. “But in lieu of what’s transpired this year, we made a decision to not have him on this list.” 
  • The Warriors will wear a “DM” patch for the rest of the season to honor assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, who died suddenly last week, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The team paid tribute to Milojevic with a ceremony before tonight’s game (video link from Kendra Andrews of ESPN).
  • Kings forward Sasha Vezenkov will be reevaluated in seven to 14 days after suffering a moderate right ankle sprain Monday night, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Vezenkov was dealing with a sprained left ankle going into the game, Anderson adds.

Grieving Warriors Return To Practice

The Warriors returned to practice on Monday for the first time since the sudden and traumatizing death of assistant coach Dejan Milojevic.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr told ESPN’s Kendra Andrews and other media members that the team was too devastated to play last week after Milojevic suffered a heart attack during a team dinner on Tuesday night. A majority of the players and staff members attended the dinner in Salt Lake City.

Subsequently, the league postponed two of the Warriors’ games. Last Wednesday’s contest in Utah and Friday’s matchup against Dallas will be rescheduled for later dates.

“It’s the saddest thing I have ever been a part of in the NBA,” Kerr said. “… The last five days have been full of the shock. The emotion, the extreme outpouring of love from all over the world.”

Counseling has been offered to the players and staff, particularly to those who witnessed the event.

The Warriors will return to action on Wednesday when they play a home game against the Hawks. The franchise is planning a tribute to Milojevic and will also honor him throughout the season.

“Wednesday will be unbelievably emotional,” Kerr said. “There is no handbook for this. We will honor Deki the best way we know on Wednesday night. We will be there to play a basketball game. We will find a way to mourn and grieve and play all in the same evening.”

Center Kevon Looney found it necessary to change his practice routine.

“There’s a whole different vibe to practice not having him here,” Looney said. “He was an integral part of our team, an integral part of my day-to-day routine. It’s definitely different.”

NBA Postpones Another Warriors Game

As the Warriors grieve the loss of assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, Friday’s home game against the Mavericks has been postponed, the NBA announced (via Twitter). The game will be rescheduled for a later date.

Milojevic passed away Wednesday morning at a Salt Lake City hospital after suffering a heart attack during a team dinner Tuesday night. The 46-year-old had been part of Steve Kerr’s staff since the 2021/22 season. Before that, he was a star player and coach in Europe.

Friday’s game against Dallas was set to be televised by ESPN, so it will be replaced by a Nets-Lakers contest, the league added. Golden State’s scheduled meeting with Utah last night was also postponed, and the team won’t play again until hosting Atlanta next Wednesday.

After facing the Lakers on Wednesday, the Mavericks were set to travel to San Francisco this afternoon, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Instead, they will return home to prepare for Monday’s game against Boston.

Warriors Assistant Dejan Milojevic Dies At Age 46

Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic has passed away at age 46, according to reports from several outlets in Milojevic’s native Serbia. The team has confirmed the tragic news in an official press release (Twitter link).

Having accompanied the Warriors to Utah for a Wednesday game vs. the Jazz (which has since been postponed), Milojevic was rushed to the hospital in Salt Lake City on Tuesday after experiencing a medical emergency during a private team dinner with players and coaches.

The Warriors didn’t initially release any details on the nature of Milojevic’s health issue, but confirmed in their latest statement that he suffered a heart attack.

“We are absolutely devastated by Dejan’s sudden passing,” head coach Steve Kerr said in a statement. “This is a shocking and tragic blow for everyone associated with the Warriors and an incredibly difficult time for his family, friends, and all of us who had the incredible pleasure to work with him.

“In addition to being a terrific basketball coach, Dejan was one of the most positive and beautiful human beings I have ever known, someone who brought joy and light to every single day with his passion and energy. We grieve with and for his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa. Their loss is unfathomable.”

A former star player in Europe and the longtime head coach of Mega Basket in Serbia, where he coached future NBA MVP Nikola Jokic from 2012-15, Milojevic made the move to the NBA in 2021. He joined Kerr’s staff in Golden State and won a title in 2022 to cap off his first year with the franchise.

Milojevic previously worked with the Hawks, Spurs, and Rockets during Summer Leagues from 2016-18 and was in his third season as a Warriors assistant. As a player, he primarily competed for teams in Serbia, but also spent time in Spain, Turkey, and Montenegro. He was a three-time MVP of the ABA League from 2004-06.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to Milojevic’s friends and family.

NBA Postpones Wednesday’s Warriors/Jazz Game

The NBA has elected to postpone the game between the Warriors and the Jazz that had been scheduled for Wednesday night, the league announced in a press release (via Twitter).

The postponement is due to the medical emergency affecting Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic. As we detailed this morning, Milojevic suffered a “sudden and serious” health issue on Tuesday during a private team dinner with Golden State coaches and players.

The exact nature of Milojevic’s health issue isn’t known, but the postponement of tonight’s game is a clear indication of how significant it is. He has been hospitalized in Salt Lake City.

[UPDATE: Milojevic has passed away at age 46]

According to the NBA, a new date for the game between the Warriors and Jazz will be announced at a later time.

The next game on Golden State’s schedule is a Friday contest at home vs. Dallas.

Warriors Notes: Milojevic, Payroll, Draymond, More

Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic has been hospitalized in Salt Lake City, team sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

According to ESPN’s report, Milojevic – who was in Utah with the team for Wednesday’s game vs. the Jazz – was at a dinner with players and coaches when he suffered a “sudden and serious” health issue. The exact nature of that issue is unclear.

As Anthony Slater of The Athletic relays (via Twitter), the Warriors confirmed this morning in a statement that Milojevic suffered “a medical emergency” at a private team dinner, adding that updates on his status will be provided as appropriate.

A former star player in Europe and the longtime head coach of Mega Basket in Serbia, Milojevic made the move to the NBA for the first time in 2021, joining Steve Kerr‘s staff in Golden State and winning a title to cap off his first year with the franchise. This is his third season as a Warriors assistant.

Here’s more out of Golden State:

  • Although the Warriors haven’t been shy about going deep into luxury tax territory in recent years, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said during an appearance on NBA Today (YouTube link) that he believes the club will be more conscious of its financial situation going forward, in large part due to the increased restrictions facing teams above the second apron in the new CBA. “I don’t think their decisions are simply, right now, ‘Hey, we see a player we really like and we’re going to trade for him,'” Wojnarowski said. “Because financially they can’t keep going forward at the salary level they’re at.”
  • Draymond Green‘s return from his indefinite suspension on Monday didn’t go as planned for the Warriors, who fell to the undermanned Grizzlies by a score of 116-107. Green came off the bench and played just 23 minutes, telling reporters after the game that “it was fun being back on the court” despite the loss, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “I think (the minutes) will go up pretty fast, but until it does I will try to be the best I can be in the minutes I have and bring a spark to this team,” Green said.
  • Green wasn’t happy with the defensive effort he saw from the Warriors in Monday’s loss, according to Andrews. “(The defensive plan) falls off when it’s about having pride,” he said. “You have to have pride in yourself as a man, that I’m not going to let a guy score. But our closeouts were too soft, and rotations were too slow, so there’s just no pride. Until every guy takes pride in themself and wants to stop the guy in front of them, we’ll suck.”
  • Monday’s ugly loss in Memphis, which dropped the Warriors’ record to 18-22 on the season, increased the level of pressure on the team’s front office, suggests Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

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.”