Ric Bucher chatted with fans from Oracle before Tuesday's Hornets-Warriors game. Join our NBA Insider for online chats every other Tuesday at 12 p.m. noon!
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Giants spent Monday huddled in a suite at the Gaylord National Resort, putting the finishing touches on the offseason’s big move. By Wednesday afternoon, team officials were scattering.
Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy headed back to San Francisco, where they’ll help introduce Mark Melancon at a Friday press conference. Bobby Evans and Dick Tidrow went off in search of a good BBQ joint. It was a relaxed group, one that knows the heavy lifting is done.
The Giants are set in their rotation and bullpen, with any further additions coming as non-roster invitees. They would like more bench depth, but the lone open spot in the lineup is in left field, and there’s a commitment to give Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker a shot.
There are several big outfield names left on the market, but the Giants are already at about $200 million in payroll, $5 million above the competitive balance tax. Because they’re paying the tax for the third consecutive year, any additional dollar spent would be taxed at 50 percent.
So, say the Giants signed a Jon Jay-type. Jay got a one-year, $8 million deal with the Cubs, but it would essentially be a $12 million deal in San Francisco. The same holds true for the trade market, and while the Giants are open-minded about additions before spring training, it may be hard to find the right fit.
The Giants checked in on Detroit’s J.D. Martinez, but Evans said any deal for Martinez or a similar veteran (Jay Bruce, who makes $13 million, is among those available) would have to include a significant salary being sent back to the other team to balance the books. It’s difficult to find the player who could be sent to a team like Detroit and balance out much of the incoming salary. Martinez is scheduled to make $11.75 million next year. The Giants have eight players making at least $11 million in 2017, but all but Matt Cain are locked into key roles. The three other players who could eat up a chunk of that salary — Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Matt Moore — are franchise building blocks.
Cain would be the only big salary that could be removed without leaving a new hole, but even if a team was willing to take it on (extremely unlikely) in some form, and you ignored the fact that Cain is competing for the fifth starter spot, there’s a zero percent chance the Giants ask their longest-tenured player to waive his no-trade clause and accept a deal to a rebuilding team.
This is all a long way of saying what you already knew if you were soaking everything in this week: The Giants have gone over $200 million in total CBT payroll for the first time and don’t intend to add much more to that number in the offseason.
As a fan, it’s your right to make the argument that you buy enough garlic fries and giraffe hats and No. 28 jerseys for the Giants to keep pushing into Dodger-Yankee territory. But both of those teams have also signaled a desire to get back under the tax at some point, and the Giants can counter that they’ve been as aggressive as any big-market team over the past 13 months, shelling out $313 million to two starters, a closer and a center fielder, and giving massive extensions to fan favorites Crawford and Belt.
As the Giants left National Harbor, they were thrilled to have picked up their first choice — Melancon — for closer. The important work is done, the payroll is about set, and the camp competitions will begin soon. The marquee one will be in left. Williamson and Parker will form a partnership for about $1 million combined.
“I think at this point they need playing time,” Bochy said on our Giants Insider Podcast. “Parker has had a lot more at-bats in the minor leagues than Mac. What I do like about Parker is he cut back on the strikeouts, he laid off on some of those secondary pitches down below the strike zone and did a better job of that. Mac had to deal with a couple of injuries but he got on a good roll there. It’s nice to have two potential power guys, which is something we need.”
You can listen to the full Bochy podcast here. You can watch the Melancon press conference on Friday at 1 p.m. on CSN Bay Area. What you shouldn’t do, barring an unforeseen change in the organization’s thinking or the market, is expect another big splash.
LOS ANGELES – Once robust, the fabled Warriors-Clippers rivalry is rapidly going the way of the typewriter.
When the Warriors strolled walked into Staples Center Wednesday night and laid a 115-98 mashing on LA, prompting much of the sellout crowd streaming toward the exits in the fourth quarter, it was seventh consecutive time they have throttled the Clippers.
More deflating for the Clippers and perhaps the rest of the NBA is that this much-hyped game, with LA’s new and improved defense ranking No. 1 in the league, was supposed to be more competitive than the previous six losses.
It was, instead, a 17-point victory, the biggest Warriors rout yet.
Though the Warriors shot a respectable 47.7 percent (but only 23.3 percent beyond the arc) and also lost a tight rebounding battle, 46-45, they did most everything else so well the Clippers were done before the first quarter was over.
They had 32 assists and only 11 turnovers. They held LA to 39.6-percent shooting, while forcing 14 turnovers, leading to 16 Warriors points.
“Defensively, that’s where we won the game,” Kevin Durant said.
“If we defend like that and take care of the ball, even on a night when shots aren’t going in, we have a chance to win anywhere,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Even on the road against a great team.”
The Warriors (19-3) locked up star forward Blake Griffin, holding him to 12 points on 5-of-20 shooting – and an unsightly seven turnovers – mostly under the unyielding defense of Draymond Green.
In a game circled on their calendar, the Clippers’ starting five finished with 41 points – less than the combined totals of Klay Thompson (24) and Green (22).
The Clippers (16-7) lost this game on merit, perhaps more than the Warriors won it. Committing nine first-quarter turnovers, which the Warriors turned into 8 points, LA looked like a team that was not prepared to play an NBA game, certainly not under the microscope of national TV.
The game was advertised never materialized, partly because the Clippers were so bad and partly because the Warriors were appropriately ruthless in taking it.
“It happens,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “You go into a game that you really want to do well, things don’t go well for you, and you lose it sometimes.”
Largely thanks to Clippers turnovers, the Warriors smoked LA in paint points, 58-38, as well as fast-break points, 27-11. The Warriors had 12 steals, including a career-high-tying seven by Stephen Curry.
“When we get a steal, especially live-ball turnovers, it’s three-on-one and you’ve got to pick your poison,” Durant said. “We were getting layups, we were getting wide-open 3s – although we missed a lot. But for the most part, when we get out and run that kind of ignites us, no matter if we miss or make the shot.”
So it didn’t matter than Curry failed to make a 3-pointers for only the second time this season, or that Durant endured his worst shooting night as a Warrior, going 5-of-17 from the field.
With Curry, Durant and Thompson all shooting under 50 percent, it was left to Green to operate the efficiency department. He mastered it, going 8-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-5 beyond the arc.
“It was great to get some shots to fall,” Green said. “(My shot has) been feeling good the last couple days, so I said if I got a shot that I would come in aggressive. But still focus in on the defensive end. That’s always my No. 1 focus, especially against a team like this.”
To locate the genesis of the Warriors recent domination of the Clippers, look no further than Green. He suffocates Griffin, who tends to come apart. The Warriors have faced the Clippers nine times since Green was installed as the starting power forward. They’ve won eight of them.
“If you want to take a positive away from this experience, it’s that this isn’t the playoffs,” Griffin said. “So we have some work to do, obviously. It’s a good lesson for us and I think we’ll be better off because of it. We have to allow ourselves to learn from it.”
It’s a theme very similar to that which was expressed the last time the Clippers lost to the Warriors, as well as the time before that, and so on and so on and so on, going back to the days when this was a real rivalry.
The Warriors simply take the W and keep quiet. No gloating. Maybe that will come in the playoffs.