Warriors traded themselves out of free agent market

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Warriors traded themselves out of free agent market

When the new Warriors ownership group took over, they madeit clear that they believed Golden State could be a destination franchise forbig-time free agents and soon.But judging by the teams recent moves and factoring intheir humbling 2011 offseason, it seems apparent that owner Joe Lacob and theteams front office realizes clearing cap space to attract an elite free agentisnt viable at this point.And now wont be for a few years.
Whether it was taking on salary to acquire Andrew Bogut orliving with an extra year on Richard Jeffersons contract, its obvious theWarriors wont be a significant player in the free agent market anytimesoon.NEWS: Warriors trade Jackson for Jefferson
They now have big-money players Richard Jefferson, AndrisBiedrins and Andrew Bogut under contract through 2014; and the biggest moneyplayer of them all, David Lee, is locked up through 2015-16.In other words, unless the Warriors focus changesdramatically and in a hurry, theyll be capped out for at least the next twoseasons. Of course, theres nothing wrong with that; it just means they will beno factor when players such as Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, BlakeGriffin, Josh Smith and others become free agents in the next couple ofyears.That wasnt supposed to be the case.In truth, its probably a sound strategy. After all, theWarriors cleared significant cap space this past offseason and were unable toland any of their targeted players.They offered Tyson Chandler a contract worth close to 70million over four years only to see him spurn the offer to join the Knicks forless money. They also liked both Nene and Marc Gasol, but were given noindication either wanted to sign with Golden State.The Warriors also made an ill-fated run at Clippers centerDeAndre Jordan, who was a restricted free agent. While it was Los Angeles callon whether or not to match the Warriors offer, its obvious Jordan didnt feelstrongly about leaving for Golden State.Before the Warriors made trades this week, they were in aposition to get a pretty good ways under the cap this upcoming offseason perhaps as much as 10 million or so. But by acquiring Bogut and includingKwame Browns expiring contract in the deal they essentially said the heckwith the free-agent game.Trading Jackson for Jefferson was another indication of thatsentiment because Jefferson had one more year and 11 million more on hiscontract than Jackson.On the one hand, its a positive that Lacob and the Warriorsare willing to pony up for second-round picks like they just did with Atlanta and take on an extra year or two of a players salary.On the other, it shows the Warriors dont consider themselvesprime-time players just yet when it comes to luring a difference-maker to theBay Area.

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

OAKLAND -- No one among the Warriors had a deeper desire to beat the Cavaliers than Stephen Curry, and his performance Monday gave every indication that he wanted it as badly as he needed it.

And after losing the point-guard battle to Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving in four successive games, all Warriors losses, it was past time for Curry as the back-to-back MVP to stand up and make a statement.

His response was impressive: 20 points (7-of-20 shooting), 11 assists, four steals and a 126-91 rout by the Warriors. He was plus-23 over 31 minutes.

“He was making shots, it’s as simple as that,” Irving said. “In transition, off pick-and-rolls, doing what he does and that makes him a great player.”

Irving’s response: 17 points (6-of-19 shooting), two assists and a game-high-tying (with teammate LeBron James) six turnovers. Irving was minus-12 over 29 minutes.

“Steph was great,” coach Steve Kerr said. “A phenomenal first half, I think he had 10 assists. His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

Curry has been playing with renewed vigor lately, his mentality changing shortly after the Warriors on Christmas Day in Cleveland blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, taking a 109-108 loss. Curry took only 11 shots, scoring 15 points.

He was particularly good in the first half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, with 10 assists and three steals. Curry clearly came to destroy.

“It was a great way to start, just a foot on the gas pedal,” Curry said.

Curry’s game, along with the victory, may silence some of the narrative suggesting the Cavaliers have his number. Though he was displeased with one aspect of his game, Curry happily accepted the outcome. Or that Irving hadn't caught up to him.

“I obviously wanted to play well; I didn’t want to walk off the floor with anything more than what I think is a solid, aggressive game,” he said. “I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I wanted to. Some shots I normally make didn’t go down.

But I can live with that knowing I took care of the other stuff I was supposed to do on the floor. Really, what was all in my head was that I definitely wanted to leave this arena tonight with a solid performance and obviously get the win.”

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

OAKLAND -- There was a single play Monday night that delighted Warriors fans more than any other in a 126-91 win over the Cavaliers, and it was not any of five 3-point bombs dropped by Oracle Arena favorite Stephen Curry.

Nor was it the high-velocity collision between Draymond Green and LeBron James, which resulted in Green being assessed with a Flagrant Foul 1 and the Warriors cranking up their intensity to another level.

No, the most satisfying play of all was on defense, and it was made by offensive wizard Kevin Durant, who sent a resounding message to the Cavaliers and, moreover, to James, Cleveland’s superstar forward.

With 9:48 left in the third quarter and James driving in for a dunk, Durant responded by rising up and cleanly stuffing the shot, sending James sprawling helplessly to the floor as the Warriors gained possession and raced the other way.

“That block at the rim was definitely great,” Draymond Green said. “If LeBron dunks on him right there, the momentum swings, he’s excited and everything can possibly swing. Yeah, he made a stand. Got a big block for us and we got off to the races. That puts momentum completely in our favor.”

With the crowd pumping up the volume, the Warriors, already in control, finished the job. And don’t think Durant isn’t aware of the effect such a play has.

“Yeah, especially when you’re at home, when you get a block against anybody, the crowd is into the game and they really enjoy that,” he said. “Around the league now, in every arena, fans are starting to respect defense. They can sense that it’s a momentum shift when you get a big block or a huge steal or a block.”

It also put momentum, on a personal level, in Durant’s favor. Despite the fact that Curry has won the last two MVP awards, it’s widely believed that James and Durant are the top two players in the NBA.

James has three championship rings, while Durant has none. James has four MVP awards, to one for Durant. When the two met in the 2012 NBA Finals, when Durant was with the Thunder and James with the Heat, Miami won in five games.

Durant, who entered the league four years after James, is at the point in his career that he believes he’s ready for anything James may have. Furthermore, since coming to the Warriors last summer, Durant clearly embraces the opportunity to beat James.

Durant posted 36 points and 15 rebounds when the teams met in Cleveland on Christmas Day, and posted 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals on Monday. KD, on an individual basis, is now 2-0 this season against LeBron.

“Guarding one of the best players in the league, and somebody that can score in different ways and impact the game from different ways, whether it’s in transition or the pick-and-roll or (isolation), I just tried to stay locked in and relied on my teammates,” Durant said.