Big O Tires

Durant injury leaves Warriors just like everybody else

Durant injury leaves Warriors just like everybody else

And with that, the Golden State Warriors are now just like everybody else.
 
Let that rattle around your head for awhile. Just. Like. Everybody. Else.
 
The Warriors haven’t been like everybody else for three years now, but with Kevin Durant’s knee going from worrisome to catastrophic in a matter of hours, they are exactly like everybody else now. They don’t get to walk on a floor and make people look forward to the next game any more.
 
They are now one of a select number of very good teams, with San Antonio and Houston and Cleveland and Boston and Washington and maybe one or two others. That will last apparently for six to eight weeks, give or take a week for reckless diagnosis or medical setbacks, while Durant heals from his collision with Zaza Pachulia in the second minute of the team’s loss at Washington, and that could mean anything from the end of the regular season to the first and second round of the playoffs.
 
In other words, it could mean an amazing triumph or a crash-and-burn, or anything inbetween. This is the unknown, right upside the head.
 
And since it is unlikely that the Warriors will go full fetal, we are about to see the level of their competitive character – in success or failure, in June or May.
 
We have seen it before, mind you. In 2013, when they broke through the zinc ceiling, we saw how they could play defense after decades of claiming it was against California law. In 2014, when they learned how hard it is to be a good team. In 2015, when they applied it to become one of the best teams in NBA history (because 83 wins in 103 games and a parade don’t lie). In 2016, when they won more regular season games than anyone else and came within five horrific minutes at the end of Game 7 of the Finals to repeating.
 
All these were lessons learned, good and bad. They deserved what they got, whether it was glory or gall, and they went to school on it all.
 
So now, without Durant for an undetermined yet worrisome amount of time, they will demonstrate how they apply all this knowledge, and how they learn to do without Durant what they did with him.
 
Only now they lose the margin of error that Durant gave them. While most of the other contenders shopped earnestly for four months looking to strengthen here and tweak there, the Warriors had a full pantry and didn’t shop at all. Their big acquisition is Matt Barnes, who they frantically signed Tuesday night to replace Durant.
 
In short, they have a four-game lead on San Antonio for the top seed in the West, but they spotted the field four months of roster improvements.
 
Now they can ill afford the stretches of shooting misery like the one Stephen Curry is currently enduring. Now they can ill afford Draymond Green speaking his mind so freely to people who take away games. They need health and purpose and an understanding that the turning-it-on-and-off thing they can do is no longer applicable to their situation.
 
They are not doomed, not by any means. Only a fool would claim otherwise, and fools come shrink-wrapped by the gross at Costco.
 
But they are now as San Antonio would be without Kawhi Leonard, or Houston without James Harden, or Cleveland without (and we’ll give you your choice here) LeBron James or Kyrie Irving, or Boston without Isaiah Thomas, or Washington without Bradley Beal AND John Wall, though not worse off than Toronto without DeMar DeRozan, since Kyle Lowry is already gone until the playoffs after wrist surgery.
 
They are Just Like Everybody Else. Well, Everybody Else Who Matters This Time Of Year. There is a parade up for grabs again, and lots of hands are reaching for it – rather than just the two hands we know best.

With KD injury, Barnes addition, 2016-17 Warriors taking normal path to glory

With KD injury, Barnes addition, 2016-17 Warriors taking normal path to glory

Programming note: Log on to the CSN Bay Area Facebook page Wednesday morning at 10 a.m when Warriors analyst Kelenna Azubuike joins "Warriors Outsiders" Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann to bring you the latest on the Kevin Durant injury and the reported signing of Matt Barnes.

This year has been a full and not entirely pleasant chapter in the book of Matt Barnes. He was part of the daily dysfunction of the Sacramento Kings, he is apparently involved to some extent with an incident in New York, he was out of work and seemingly out of basketball . . .

. . . and now he is a Golden State Warrior again, all because Zaza Pachulia crashed into Kevin Durant Tuesday night.

Durant hyperextended his knee barely a minute into a 112-108 defeat in Washington to the Wizards, and there is no good gauge on how long he will be out, though one would think it at least a week or two.

That injury forced the Warriors to drop their plans to sign veteran Jose Calderon and opt for Barnes instead. Barnes, whose career has already veered through Sacramento and Los Angeles twice, is now a two-time Warrior as well.

How meaningful this will turn out to be remains to be seen, though. The longer he plays, one presumes the longer Durant will be out, and the worse off the Warriors will be.

But it also will reveal general manager Bob Myers’ nimbleness in crisis, since the Warriors have not had to scramble in such a way since the renaissance began four years ago. Their four-game lead over San Antonio in the Western Conference may be imperiled, but unless Durant misses time into April or another one of the team’s prime contributors goes down as well (Shaun Livingston took a bit of a tweak himself Tuesday night), they should endure this brush with mortality and remain the favorite to reach the Finals from the Left Conference.

It is, however, a reminder that 2015, The Year of Years in franchise history, featured no such events. Everyone was hale, hearty and complete through that season, and there was barely a moment when they did not look like the impending champion.

Some called it luck, and it was. Luck is good, so it is not an insult.

But this is the more normal path to glory, where panic meets improvisation at a time of its own choosing, and the champion is the one who can react fastest and absorb the blow without showing signs that it did damage.

It’s just that you wouldn’t have figured Barnes, a material actor in the now-dead Warriors-Clippers feud of the early Teens, to return to Oakland . . . unless, of course, those feuds are really only rivalries of happenstance and convenience, forgotten (if not entirely forgiven) when circumstances allow.

These are those circumstances. Kevin Durant’s knee will explain just how dire those circumstances they might be, but Matt Barnes has landed nimbly – especially for someone who looked like the happy times were done.

 

GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day

shattenkirk-cousins-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day

The NHL trade deadline came and went Monday night when the Washington Capitals went chips-in on St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

(For the record, the actual details of the trade are so absurdly complicated that all you will be permitted to know here is that the Caps got Shattenkirk).

But the fact is that, yet again, all the air rushed out of Wednesday’s trade deadline balloon for the hockey media, and the poor sods on set to babysit all the deal-lets and non-deals will weep bitterly as their phones spit out hour after hour of non-information.

At least that’s the way it is playing now. Maybe Pittsburgh will finally close that long-rumored (well, by me, anyway) Sidney Crosby-for-Phil Di Giuseppe deal, but that’s not the way to bet.

But the trade deadline has been slowly but surely dying as general managers find far greater advantage in making their deals away from the time crunch and the persistent phone calls from other general manager, agents and worst of all, media weasels.

For example, the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans broke the NBA trade deadline as well as the All-Star Game by doing the DeMarcus Cousins deal four days early and midway through the first half, in that order.

And though this wasn’t actually a trade, the Golden State Warriors broke the market back in July by maneuvering their way for the prize of the summer – Zaza Pachulia.

Oh, and the other guy.

In short, the general managers seem to have figured out the simplest way to foil the pressures of the trade deadline – by ignoring the deadline and acting ahead of time, creating their own spoiler alerts by spoiling everyone’s fun before they were fully alerted.

And that leaves the rest of us faced with an empty day of blather after we’ve all gone to the trouble of doubling down on beer and chips.

Ultimately the idea behind the coverage of a trade is to break the news of the trade whenever it happens. And the idea of the trade from the general manager’s view is to better the team and minimize the chance of being fired.

All laudable goals, by and large.

But a trade deadline without some recognizable trades is just another day when you can’t fake working, and who needs that?

What’s needed here then is a trade deadline with teeth and real tangible punishments for everyone involved. I mean, we have chips and guacamole to think of.

For instance, there is no reason why the leagues couldn’t install rules that say that no trade can be announced even to any of the principals (players, agents, medioids, et. al.) except on the day of the deadline. Any teams involved in a deal that breaks the embargo is fined a massive amount of the owners’ (as in both teams’ owners) money.

To make this work, the teams would have to agree no trade could be made between, say, Thanksgiving and the deadline. Or Christmas, depending on how you feel about tryptophan overdosing. But the point is, nothing could get done until the agreed-upon deadline, and it could only be announced to anyone on the day of the deadline.

This is profoundly unfair to the players, of course, but that little issue has never bothered management before when the alternative was money.

It is also not much fun for the media, which has to twiddle its opposables floating rumors that can’t be proven or disproven except on that one day when everyone works from midnight to midnight, wired to the eyelids on six-buck coffee and enough green tea to turn a gall bladder into a souvenir ash tray.

No, this is about making a worthwhile and ironclad trade deadline for the good of the sport, and the business.

Okay, this is about our amusement.

We all like trade deadlines. It gives order to the market, and it centers everyone’s focus on one hyper-adrenalized day to watch out for double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses from general managers wanting to jump each others’ action in search of their own personal Shattenkirks.

It spikes Verizon stock, it makes lots of business for movers and real estate vultures, it provides cheap and disposable fame for about two-thirds of the players in the league, and it makes everyone involved look like twitchy red-eyed zombies on television.

It beats the Bachelorette every time, because among other things it looks a lot more like parents do when they’ve been up all day and night with the colic farms.

In short, a trade deadline is a precious thing not to be discarded just because it’s inconvenient for a few suits and about-to-be-moved employees.

So yeah, Kevin Shattenkirk could have held another day or so. You know, for the good of the game.