The Warriors cant sign any free agents until Dec. 9, butthat doesnt mean their offseason plans arent coming into focus.According to several sources, the Warriors intend to secure a big man during the abbreviated free agent signing period. People with knowledge of the team's thinking have confirmed that Nene, Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and, to a lesser degree, Marc Gasol are on the list.Whether or not the Warriors have the financial wherewithalto sign one of those players -- or any of those players have the desire to come toGolden State -- remains to be seen.The Warriors payroll currently sits at approximately 51million, about 7 million under the 58 million salary cap. If the team usesits amnesty provision on Charlie Bell, who makes 4.1 million in 2011-12, thenthe Warriors could be looking at roughly 11 million in cap room.Question is -- is that enough to lure Nene or Chandler?Answer: It might be close.Nene has been with the Nuggets for all of his nine-yearcareer. He led the league in field goal percentage last season (.615) andaveraged 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.Nene is not a natural center, and there should be concernshow well hell team with power forward David Lee. As for Chandler, hesconsidered one of the best defensive centers in the league, and helped theDallas Mavericks win a title a year ago.Chandler indicated earlier this week that hebelieves his days in Dallas might be over. Its likely that both Nene and Chandler will seek contractsin excess of 10 million per year, but the real issue for the Warriors iswhether each of those guys will be flirting with the 15-million range.If thats the case, the Warriors wouldnt be able to competefor either of their services -- without having to use their amnestyclause on either Lee or Andris Biedrins.The Warriors also have interest in Gasol, a restricted freeagent, but he seems like the longest shot of the group. Memphis has given everyindication that it will match any offer for Gasol.As for Jordan, he's the most likely acquisition of thefour, but he's also a notch below the others. Jordan averaged 7.1 points, 7.2rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game for the Clippers last season.Warriors assistant general manager Bob Myers was formerlyJordans agent, fueling speculation that Golden State is interested. Jordan,23, is the youngest and least proven of the four.Hes also a restricted free agent, meaning the Clipperswould have the right to match any salary offered.
The Golden State Warriors begin their Hubris Against America Tour Tuesday evening against the San Antonio Spurs, and one thing can be safely predicted even now.
Not their fatigue; they seem in moderately acceptable basketball shape. Ours. Very much ours.
You see, the Warriors have been in our faces, mouths and brains on an almost daily basis since they became an Internet meme (blow a 3-1 lead in the semifinals, people take no notice; blow one in the final and nobody can forget it). They assembled the latest version of The Greatest Team Ever, they have been castigated for talking it without walking it (yes, you, Joey “The Flying Auctioneer” Lacob). They have been relentlessly psychoanalyzed because Draymond Green may in fact be Public Enemy Number One, and they have been Curried, Thompsoned, Duranted, Iguodala’d and maybe even Looneyed into a thin gray paste. They have not been left alone for a day.
And they still haven’t played a game.
So yes, Warrior fatigue is coming, if it hasn’t already arrived. And there will no solution or cure for it. Whether they go 74-8, 8-74 or anything inbetween, they are America’s new sporting fetish, even more than the Chicago Cubs, and because America knows only one way to kill – overkill – America will Warrior you to death.
What the Warriors do about it is the Warriors’ problem, though there are things they can do to mitigate the problem:
1. Win a lot without winning at a record rate, and taking themselves out of the Race To 74 early. We would never encourage them to tank games, at least not without advance notice to take advantage of wagering opportunities, but removing that first block in the Hell-Jenga of anticipation they have created for themselves can only help.
2. Avoid high-speed cyclical dramas with Draymond Green (and good luck with that). The living embodiment of the talent-tumult scale is already the focus of the Warrior-Kumbaya-Is-A-Lie movement, and that frankly is a good thing since no team is as zen as the Warriors have claimed they are for the past two seasons. That Nirvana-in-Nikes (or Utopia-In-UnderArmour, if you must) sloganeering has been a particularly irritating part of the Warriors’ rise up the hoop-volutionary chart, and the sooner they stop explaining to us that they are so damned special temperamentally, they can get back to the business of being so damned special athletically.
3. Keep Lacob from explaining how the Warriors invented the Internet, reinvented basketball or deconstructed investing, or whatever new fanciful claim he wants to make to harangue his pals on the Silicon Valley Strip. Basketball is still essentially a pastime of players and styles, and the Warriors have lots of players and one very appealing style, so concentrating on that rather the innovation fetish that so appeals to the entrepreneur in Lacob would be an excellent public relations move.
4. Have Kevin Durant admit publicly for the first time that the real reason he chose the Warriors and offended old-timers everywhere is actually because the Sixers didn’t want to expend salary cap space on him. Or that he wanted to see water again before he died. Or that he made up his mind that he would only go where Javale McGee went. Or best of all, have him deny on camera that he signed with the Warriors while wearing a Warrior jersey. Denial in the face of demonstrable fact seems to work in a political year, especially this one, so why not have him tell a different ridiculous story every time he is asked – because HE IS NEVER NOT GOING TO BE ASKED.
5. Play the Georgian national anthem in tandem with The Star-Spangled Banner just to throw people off the “Did Curry’s eyebrow just twitch during the ‘rockets’ red glare’ part?” scent.
6. And most importantly, convince themselves that despite the mob or semi-coherent notebooks, tape recorders, microphones, cameras and zombie media ingénues that never go away, that they can remember the most salient facts about the 2016-17 season.
That they DID blow a 3-1 lead, and that they didn’t win the championship, and they’re not reinventing the mythology of unshakable team unity or the laws of basketball or anything else, and that until/unless they do win the title they tell anyone around to listen that Cleveland is the best team and has the jewelry and the parade to prove it.
Nobody will buy it, of course, and Warrior Fatigue will still be a part of all of our daily lives, but until we as a nation can mature and let the games speak for themselves on occasion, this is all we have.
Now, before we start doing something stupid and watching the Warriors play the Spurs, let’s fire off a few molten-hot takes about that Zaza Pachulia For Defensive Player Of The Year campaign...
Here in the age of ubiquitous social media and rampant hyper-scrutiny, following a summer during which they tilted the balance of power in the NBA, the Warriors embark on a season in which they may be the most inspected and analyzed team in American sports history.
Their ability to handle this overload of attention will determine whether the next eight months are good, great or magical – or a colossal disappointment.
Regardless of talent level – the Warriors four All-Stars – it is incredibly difficult to consistently crush opponents while also navigating potential distractions, managing the inevitable discord and deflecting the harsh radiance of what surely will be ceaseless public glare.
“The only thing that matters is what happens in the gym every day,” coach Steve Kerr says. “And that’s our job as a coaching staff, to address dynamics as they arise, whether it’s on the floor or off. And I’m sure there are going to be lots of off-the-floor dynamics that we’ll have to get through this year.”
The sideshows are well under way. There is Kevin Durant’s much-debated decision to leave Oklahoma City and sign with the Warriors. There is the back-and-forth over how this will affect Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. There is the curiosity about Draymond Green, partly regarding his role but mostly regarding whether he can keep his white-hot emotions from overriding his considerable intellect, a subject well-chronicled as the preseason came to a close.
“You could nitpick all you want,” Curry says. “You could chime in here and there. But at the end of the day, we’re all competitive. We’re all our own person. We’re all in this thing together. It’s a ‘You take shots at Draymond, you take shots at the whole team kind’ of mentality.”
There it is, Curry indicating the Warriors are ready and willing to circle up, close ranks, link arms and spend 82 games unleashing their abundance of firepower upon the rest of the NBA.
The Warriors are a team always seeking a reason to turn up their ferocity, scanning the globe for slights and insults and anything else that will lead them to believe that you don’t believe. They will have plenty of ammunition.
They’re coming off a devastating loss in the NBA Finals, where they became the first team to take a 3-1 series lead and not finish the season with a championship. They engineered the biggest acquisition of the summer, signing megastar forward Durant. They’re reading that their incumbent Green is on a path that could destroy everything they’ve built.
And, for the heck of it, they’re being told they no longer have a rim protector.
Here’s what the Warriors hear: Their 2015 title was a fluke, they’re trying to game the system to create a super team, their good chemistry is a hoax, they’ll be giving out free tickets to easy buckets. And, more important, that some folks may be out to get them by prodding them to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing or otherwise wreck what they believe is a championship roster supported by an enthusiastically ambitious culture that begins with CEO Joe Lacob
It was Lacob’s comment last season about the Warriors being “light years ahead” of NBA competitors that after the Finals loss became a whispered phrase of derision, a soft jab at the CEO’s propensity for glorifying his product. But that line has company. There is the Draymond Factor, the KD Decision and the fact that Andre Iguodala and Curry are in the final year of their contracts.
And there is, above all, the suspicion that the magnification of the Warriors will lead to an insane thirst for information/comment that could nudge any guileless or agenda-pushing member of the organization into deep and treacherous water.
Kerr has on multiple occasions referred to preponderance of attention devoted to the team, adding that the players “have their guards up” when dealing with media. Whether players dilute their comments will depend on that player. All are on alert.
“But at the end of the day, it’s just enjoying yourself and just trying to enjoy the game of basketball, because it can be fun," Kerr said.
If these Warriors have fun while being unified and productive, they can indeed be magical, capable of exceeding 70 wins. They can top 60 even while surviving a few bumps. They can probably win 50 even while slowly unraveling.
There was, after all, only one basketball issue during the preseason that give reason for pause. New starting center Zaza Pachulia is going to have difficult handling big men highly skilled in scoring, such as Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins. That, however, is a small problem given the paucity of such centers in today’s NBA.
Other than that, these Warriors are built to punish defenses, assaulting teams with a barrage of 3-point shots. As long as they can keep their minds on the principles of basketball, as designed by Kerr and his staff, they’ll be playing deep into June.
“We just keep moving forward,” Curry says. “There’s nothing that’s going to derail us. That’s basically the gist of it. So our goal is to not let anything come into that locker room that’s not from us, and we do a pretty good job of that.”
That has been the recent history of this group. But history has never put an NBA team through what the Warriors are about to face.