Barnes, Ezeli will play, but will they win?


Barnes, Ezeli will play, but will they win?

OAKLAND If the Warriors are to have a successful season and its up to you to decide whether that means the playoffs or not theyregoing to need some things to go right for them.Obviously, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry are going to needto be healthy for most, if not virtually all of the season. Theyll also needto defend better, be more efficient late in games and develop solidchemistry.Theyre also going to need a pair of rookies to contribute,and by contribute we dont just mean play. We mean contribute to winning.In other words, the pressure is on Harrison Barnes andFestus Ezeli to produce.Through two preseason games, they have. Warriors coach MarkJackson expects it to continue.I dont think they have to be better than I think theyare, Jackson said. They have to be who they are. Asking Festus to do whathe did (vs. Utah) is right up his alley. And Harrison being a starter or a guyoff the bench playing quality minutes. But at the same time, thats why you sayWell, you can be real good. Well, we can be. But understand this is a leaguewhere experience of winning and knowing how to win is a big deal. And thatswhen well take the next step.In other words, theres a difference between playing in theNBA and winning in the NBA.Nevertheless, the very early returns on Barnes and Ezeli areencouraging. Barnes may end up being the teams starting small forward. If not,hell likely back up Brandon Rush. Either way, you have to believe hes goingto be getting 20 minutes a night give or take a few.So hes going to have to be a quick learner. And Barnesacknowledges the lessons are pretty tough.Its been a whirlwind, Barnes said of training camp andhis first two preseason games. Obviously, playing the Lakers is different thanthe Jazz because that (the Lakers game) was the first time out there. A lot ofjitters. Stuff like that. But its exciting. These games have just been so muchdifferent from any type of game Ive ever played. Kind of living out thedream.REWIND: Good signs for Warriors in first preseason game
Ezeli is another one a first-year player who is going toget minutes. Heck, Warriors fans dont want to hear this, but its possibleEzeli could be the teams starting center on opening night.That would likely happen should Andrew Bogut, coming offleft ankle surgery, not be ready by Oct. 31, when the Warriors play the Suns inPhoenix.But even if Bogut is back by then, his minutes are probablygoing to be limited, opening the door for plenty of Ezeli. After two exhibitiongames, it seems apparent Ezeli is ahead of Andris Biedrins, who missedTuesdays practice with right groin tightness, on the depth chart.Ezeli said hes been planning for all of this.I expected it, Ezeli said. Because, no matter where Iwent I felt like stuff I bring to whatever team, I felt like I had something tobring to the team. I bring physicality and defense, all that stuff. I just comeout there and play for the team. I just want to win. So I felt like I couldhave been able to contribute to any team. And I work hard. I want to play. Iwould have worked hard so I could play whatever team I went to.

Will it work? A look at some NBA free agent deals of note

Will it work? A look at some NBA free agent deals of note

MIAMI -- Out of the nearly $4 billion worth of new contracts that were signed this offseason, some of them seem fairly certain to benefit the team that's laying out the money.

Kevin Durant, he makes Golden State even better.

LeBron James, he's worth every penny to Cleveland.

Not every deal is a lock to work, and here's a look at 10 contracts that were executed in recent months where it could be argued there's a fair amount of risk involved.



Left: Atlanta

Signed with: Boston, 4 years, $113 million

Horford has never averaged 20 points, but he'll now average more than $26 million in salary. The Celtics have raved about this move since they got it done this summer, and Horford knows that with this kind of salary comes enormous responsibility - especially in Boston, where fans are starved for a return to the NBA's elite level.

Outlook: It only works if Horford delivers a title.



Stayed with Miami, 4 years, $98 million

He made $980,000 last season and is now assured of making 100 times that much over the next four years. The question with Whiteside throughout the will-they-or-won't-they decision process in Miami was whether he could be trusted with that kind of money. The Heat not only believe it, but ultimately they wound up needing Whiteside because of the Chris Bosh saga.

Outlook: He has a skillset like few others in the game, and $98 million was what the market bore.



Left: Golden State

Signed with: Dallas, 4 years, $94 million

Dallas missed on a number of big free-agent targets in recent years, then wound up taking Barnes this summer. There was no room left for Barnes in Golden State, and he parlayed passing on a $64 million deal in 2015 into one worth much more now. It's still Dirk Nowitzki's team and will stay that way, but Barnes will have to play at a very high level to make this seem like a win.

Outlook: He struggled in the preseason, and the money will bring big pressure. He will have show he can handle that pressure.



Left: Chicago

Signed with: New York, 4 years, $73 million

He played in only 29 games last season, had no rhythm on the floor and couldn't shoot. A change of scenery might help, but he turns 32 in February. His best game last season was 21 points and 10 rebounds - against the Knicks, which explain why they came running with checkbook wide open.

Outlook: The Knicks aren't worried about the money. They need to worry about his durability.



Left: Miami

Signed with: Los Angeles Lakers, 4 years, $72 million

When Deng came to Miami two years ago there were questions about how much more he had left in the tank. But Deng had consecutive good seasons with the Heat, and even flourished when he got moved to power forward last February when Miami lost Chris Bosh again. He can still play, and more importantly to the Lakers, he can lead.

Outlook: A young core can learn plenty from Deng, which makes that deal money well spent.



Left: Toronto

Signed with: Orlando, 4 years, $72 million

He's coming off a career year, so that's good. Alas, that career year was him scoring 5.5 points per game. He doesn't have an outside game, isn't good from the foul line and isn't exactly a dominating shot-blocker. But he can rebound, and his big games in last season's playoffs - eight double-digit board games, including a 26-rebound night against Cleveland in the East finals - revealed all his potential.

Outlook: Orlando had the money, and knows it wasn't getting a 20-10 guy. But he'll need to do more to make it all worthwhile.



Left: Houston

Signed with: Atlanta, 3 years, $70.5 million

Howard essentially replaces Al Horford and gets to go home to Atlanta. The Hawks are good but not great, and really, the same can be said about Howard now. A look at the scoring numbers - 13.7 points per game last season - suggests a decline, but that was moreso based on him taking fewer shots than at any point in the last decade.

Outlook: Losing Horford meant Atlanta had to do something, and playing in his hometown could invigorate the sometimes-enigmatic Howard.



Left: Miami

Signed with: Chicago, 2 years, $47 million

Wade cherished Miami and Miami cherished Wade. But years and years of little problems eventually turned into a mess that couldn't be solved, and Wade went to his hometown in one of the more surprising moves of the summer. He turns 35 this season and has been hearing the he's-in-decline argument for years. But he keeps silencing doubters, and has plenty of motivation.

Outlook: His jersey will sell, he'll excite the Chicago fan base and he'll probably coax more out of Jimmy Butler. Hall of Famers are worth the cash.



Left: Chicago

Signed with: San Antonio, 2 years, $32 million

The Spurs love international players, love players who can do multiple things well and love players who understand that a perfect pass means more than any highlight. It's almost like Gasol is a perfect fit, especially now that San Antonio has lost the retired Tim Duncan. (And at 36, he makes the Spurs younger.) Gasol is still a double-double machine and fantastic from the foul line.

Outlook: There's 50 or so players making more than Gasol this season. There aren't 50 better players. Spurs got a steal.



Left: Los Angeles Lakers

Signed with: Charlotte, 1 year, $5 million

Hibbert's game vanished last season, and there were 27 games in which he had at least as many fouls as he did points. But the Hornets realized they needed some help up front, and at 7-foot-2 Hibbert at least provides an imposing frame. Being on a third team in as many seasons isn't ideal, but here's why this one might work - Charlotte's associate head coach under Steve Clifford is a Georgetown guy like Hibbert, named Patrick Ewing.

Outlook: Ewing gets a project, one that comes a low financial risk for Michael Jordan's club.

Blazers troll Warriors with 3-1 tweet before preseason game

Blazers troll Warriors with 3-1 tweet before preseason game

Prior to the Warriors preseason finale against the Portland Trail Blazers Friday at Oracle Arena, Golden State received some extra motivation on social media. 

The Blazers' Twitter account tweeted out: "We're playing that team with that new player tonight. We put the odds right around 3-1."

Last season the Warriors infamously blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, becoming the first team to do so. 

Before collapsing to the Cavs, the Warriors took down the Blazers in the Western Conference Semifinals in five games.