Lee a better candidate for amnesty than Biedrins

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Lee a better candidate for amnesty than Biedrins

Yesterday I wrote that if Warriors owner Joe Lacob reallywanted to make good on his promise to make a bold move, he should considerusing the amnesty clause on forward David Lee, and erasing 68.5 million overfive years from the teams cap.The thrust of the post was this: If Lacob really wanted tochart a new course for the Warriors, now would be the time to do it. The tableis set beautifully to do such a thing.
Received some responses from people, saying that if theWarriors were going to go that route -- the overhaul -- then why not amnesty center AndrisBiedrins, set to earn 27 million over the next three seasons?Biedrins has been awful the past two seasons, andthere are no indications hes getting better anytime soon. Its just tough toenvision him turning it back around here. Love to see it, dont see ithappening.So, why then wouldnt you amnesty Biedrins? Well, two reasons.First, Lee would be a better use of the amnesty from amath and bottom line perspective. What is expected to happen when a player isamnesty-ed is that the NBA teams that are under the salary cap will have achance to bid for the players services.The waived players salary comes off the teams cap, weknow, but were talking about real dollars here. Anyway, the team that bids themost money gets the player, and then the Warriors make up the difference in theplayers overall compensation.If the Warriors used the amnesty provision on David Lee,there would definitely be teams interested. And why not? Hes a good playerwith a legitimate skill set. Nobodys denying that. The issue, however, is howmuch cap room hes taking up on the Warriors too much, and its going tohamper them going forward.But the larger point is that using amnesty on Lee doesntmean you have to eat 65 million. Not at all.Ill bet you there are teams out there that would want apiece of David Lee for 30 or 40 million over five years. Maybe somewhere Leeis the third-best player on the team, maybe even No. 4. Then you havesomething.Anyway, maybe you only end up having to pay half of Leesmoney. But youre not going to have to eat it all. But lets also make anotherpoint about Lacob and his ownership group. Hes called his ownership groupamong pro sports most dynamic and with pockets as deep as any other ownershipgroup.If thats really the case, eating 65 million is simply thecost of business, no? But again, the Warrior wouldnt have to eat it all.Bottom line is using the amnesty clause on Lee is a biggerbang for the buck (cap-relief wise) than Biedrins.But theres another reason to amnesty Lee instead ofBiedrins when playing the Whom to Amnesty? game: Biedrins is easier to tradethan Lee, so if youre going for a legitimate overhaul, the two moves can worktogether.Hey, Biedrins has been pretty lousy, no doubt. But everycontending team in the league wants as many big men as they can get, and someteam will absolutely want Biedrins. Now, dont expect the sun, moon and starsfor him in return, but you come out of it with a serviceable player and caprelief dynamite.Lee, on the other hand, youd have to trade with his 65million in tow, and thats a flat turnoff for every team. Like I said, theresa lot to like about Lee in another situation at less money. Thats my explanation of why Id rather use the amnestyclause on Lee rather than Biedrins. Though it just came to me that it likelydoesnt matter. Just cant see Warriors using the amnesty clause on either oneof them. Lee and Biedrins will actually be paid slightlyless than those figures Lee about 65-ish million and Biedrins about 25million or so because this years salaries will be pro-rated. Teamsusually play an 82-game schedule; this season because of the lockout its a66-game schedule.

Don't tell David West Cavs-Warriors means nothing: 'We need to win this'

Don't tell David West Cavs-Warriors means nothing: 'We need to win this'

OAKLAND -- Don’t tell David West that the game between the Cavaliers and Warriors on Monday is without significant consequence. He has played too long, seen too much. He knows better.

“This is a very important game for us,” West said Sunday, “because this is the last time we’re going to be able to measure ourselves against these guys.

“The only other time we’d get to face them would be in The Finals.”

Reaching The Finals was in the back of his mind when West signed with the Warriors last July. After scanning his options and doing his research -- including conversations involving Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and coach Steve Kerr -- he chose to come to the Bay Area to continue his quest to reach the NBA’s ultimate series.

At age 36, West has gone 933 games, and another 83 counting the playoffs, and gotten no closer to The Finals than back-to-back dismissals in the Eastern Conference Finals. West in both instances was a member of the Indiana Pacers, and the team that stood in the way both times was the Miami Heat.

That would be the Heat featuring LeBron James, who has since returned to Cleveland.

So, yes, Warriors-Cavs is is a big deal to West. It’s why he’s here.

“Obviously, it’s a regular-season game,” he said. “But for us, every game means something. That’s probably another driving force of why I wanted to be a part of this team. And why I chose San Antonio last year. When you’re playing with a group of this caliber, with these types of expectations, every game, every night, means something. There’s no dropoff or letdown and no room to let up. That’s a vital part of being in the NBA.

“But right now in the NBA, there are distinct levels of basketball. And I just wanted to be a part of the highest level.”

It gets no higher than the Warriors and Cavs. They’ve met in The Finals in each of the past two seasons, with each team winning one, and most conceivably will meet again in June.

Meanwhile, the sights and sounds on the road to the playoff is unlike that which he experienced with the former New Orleans Hornets or the Pacers or the Spurs. Those were good teams. The Warriors, coming of an NBA-record 73-win season, not only are favorites to win it all but perceived as the league’s super team.

It’s as if the Warriors have a bounty on their heads every time they take the court.

“When we play against younger teams, or teams with guys that don’t have a lot of experience, the point guard wants to prove he can stay on the floor against Steph,” West said. “Small forwards want to prove they can hang with KD. Same thing guys coming after Draymond; he’s a target. Then you have a bunch of Klay (Thompson) clones out there. You can see the guys that are modeling themselves after Klay. So when they play against him, they measure themselves against him.

“We all feel that. When you’re a part of this kind of group, that’s what makes the challenge so much fun.”

With Warriors-Cavs, the fun is in knowing that you’re facing the best, the reigning champs from Cleveland, who dethroned the Warriors. And on Monday, the Warriors will be trying to defend their turf.

“We need to win this; we need to win them all,” West said. “We know it's a high-intensity, emotional game. There will be a lot of people watching and a lot of energy in the building. We will have to control our energy and be the more fundamentally sound team.

“We have to be the team that hits more singles and doubles than they do. We don’t need home runs.”

Prepping for Cavs, Curry returns to roots on and off the floor

Prepping for Cavs, Curry returns to roots on and off the floor

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry turned back the clock a few days ago, returning to Davidson College.

Not in person but in spirit.

His latest haircut is, Curry says, the shortest he has allowed in at least a couple years and reminiscent of the close-cropped look he sported at Davidson. What’s different now is the beard. Invisible until a few years ago, it’s longer and fuller than desire and genetics had previously allowed.

“Proud of this beard,” Curry said Sunday, 50 minutes after the Warriors concluded practice. “Very proud.”

In the days running up to Warriors-Cavaliers II on Monday at Oracle Arena, Curry has transformed his dome. He is, once again the baby-faced assassin, only this time the look is accompanied by grown-man facial hair.

Curry’s new look comes on the heels of making alterations to his game. He’s playing with more force, being more assertive with the ball and taking a few more shots. His aggression has shifted into a higher gear.

“Lately, he’s been getting the rock and being aggressive and playing his game,” teammate Kevin Durant said of Curry. “Since that Cleveland game, he’s been playing on another level.”

Since that Cleveland game. That’s what it comes back to for the Warriors and for Curry. That Cleveland game, played on Christmas Day, is three weeks behind them yet the single-most eye-opening experience of the season. The Warriors led by 14 with 9:35 left and by 13 with 8:17 remaining and by 3 with 1:14 to play.

And lost, again, as in Game 7 of The Finals, on a late shot by Cavs guard Kyrie Irving.

“That was definitely a moment,” Curry said. “The Memphis game (Curry scoring 40 points but the Warriors blew a 24-point lead in a 128-119 loss on Jan. 6) was a moment. The Lakers game earlier in the year (a 117-97 loss on Nov. 4) was a moment. You’ve got to understand what went wrong in those kinds of games and figure it out as you go through, knowing you’re going to have some more slipups.”

Curry since the Christmas Day loss has advocated for more pick-and-roll action and gotten it, most notably with Durant as his partner. Curry wanted more time at point guard, and he's gotten it. His numbers have improved, and his overall effect has been more noticeable.

In eight games since Christmas Day, Curry has averaged 20 shots and 27.1 points per game. In the eight games up to and including the loss at Cleveland, he averaged 15.6 shots and 19.9 points.

Yet the real test comes when Curry sees the Cavaliers, against whom recent games have not been pretty. His last four games against Cleveland -- Games 5-7 of the NBA Finals and Christmas Day -- have produced 21.7 points on 36.6-percent shooting, 2.5 assists and 3.7 turnovers.

There’s another reason Curry wants to kill his Cavs demons, which began forming as the Warriors became the first team in league history to go up 3-1 in the NBA Finals and lose the series. That was mere months after Curry mentioned that the visiting locker room at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland still smelled of the champagne with which Warriors celebrated after winning The Finals in 2015.

Curry is tired of hearing about, well, his Cavs demons, whether the noise is coming from fans or players or folks he barely knows.

Playing golf in the Safeway Open pro-am at Silverado in October, Curry got an earful from playing partner Harold Varner III, who happens to be an Ohio native and, of course, a Cavs fan.

“He waited until the ninth hole because he was a little unsure about how I’d take it, how much of a good sport I would be,” Curry recalled. “And then, once he tested the waters, he didn’t hold back the rest of the round. But it was all in good fun.”

This is not the kind of “good fun” Curry cares to hear any more. As the Cavs come to town, he’s back in a familiar place, with folks doubting him, wondering if he has what it takes.

And he’s playing as if he has something to prove, just as he did at Davidson.