Time for the mail Is the rumor of Monta Ellis to Chicago for JoakimNoah legitimate? Martin, San Jose.Steinmetz: Well, as far as rumors go, I guess itslegitimate because its out there and people are talking about it. But I cantimagine a scenario in which the Bulls would do this.Why would they?Chicago is 18-5 and has the best record in the EasternConference. Noah is their defensive anchor as well as the teams best rebounder not to mention their best-post defender.Its highly unlikely that the best team in the East wouldgive up their most important big men for Ellis, a combo guard who shoots a lowpercentage. Quite frankly, Im not sure the Warriors could get Noah even ifthey made every player on their roster available. Hes very good and a hugepart of what the Bulls are all about.Any chance the Warriors go after Chris Kaman? Hesdoing nothing for New Orleans. CallMeKO, Oakland, Calif.Steinmetz: I think if the Warriors were of a mindto significantly reshape their team, then Kaman would afford them anopportunity to do it. Make no mistake, it wouldnt be to acquire Kaman to bethe teams center. It would be to change the make-up of their team, perhapsacquire a first-round draft pick and to have cap space going forward.A week or so ago I suggested the Warriors look into tradingMonta Ellis for Kaman and a first-round pick (likely Minnesotas, which theHornets own). However, the Hornets are said to want to go in the otherdirection as far as draft picks go. In other words, they want anotherfirst-round pick to make three and would rather not give one of theirsup.That makes sense, but if nothing appealing comes to theHornets, then perhaps theyd have to change their thinking with regard to that.The Hornets do have shooting guard Eric Gordon, but there istalk he will be pursued heavily by the Indiana Pacers in the offseason. So ifthe Hornets think they might lose Gordon, then Ellis would be a worthwhileacquisition.Honest opinion, what do you think if Klay Thompson?Marvin, Antioch, Calif.Steinmetz: I like him much better than I did atthe start of the season, thats for sure. Thompson struggled early and now hasseemed to gain some confidence.It sure looks like hes going to be a heck of a shooter, butthe question is whether hes got enough skills in other areas to be a startingcaliber two guard.Defensively, Thompson has struggled but thats to beexpected. A big question regarding Thompson will be whether or not he candiversify his game enough and become a threat at doing other things than justshooting 3-pointers.Nearly half of Thompsons attempts this season have beenfrom beyond the arc. And if he wants to be a starter in the NBA, hes going tohave to do other things at the offensive end.Regarding the Jerry West hire will that pay offsoon or was that an overhyped PR hire? StraightG, South Bay.Steinmetz: Well, I dont think theres any doubtWest is doing a lot less personnel-wise than the Warriors led on when he washired. Hes been up here in the Bay Area a few times since the season began,but hes mostly stayed in Southern California.West is in the loop, but hes not involved in the day-to-dayand hes certainly not making any phone calls. Heres the bottom line: Westsaid upon his hiring that hes a risk-taker and someone willing to make boldmoves.But have there been any since Joe Lacob bought the team orsince West took over? Not really. To me, thats indication enough that hes notas involved as some said he would be.Does Andris Biedrins have any trade value? Did hebefore the season started? Dante, Parts Unknown.Steinmetz: Biedrins has a little trade value andthe reason I say that is because hes a center who at least has shown theability to rebound. That alone makes him a player that certain teams wouldwant. Mostly talking elite teams here.Take a look at the Dallas Mavericks last year. They hadTyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, Ian Mahinmi. Look at the Oklahoma CityThunder. They have Kendrick Perkins, Nazr Mohammed, Cole Aldrich, Nick Collisonand Serge Ibaka.My point is that the best teams in the league could alwaysuse size. Now, you wont be able to get much for Biedrins and his contract (9million this season and two more seasons after this) will make it a challenge.But I actually believe someone like Biedrins might be easierto trade than, say, David Lee, because Biedrins contract is shorter and Leescontract is so cumbersome.
OAKLAND – Like all elite athletes, Kevin Durant brings a fierce pride to his work. He takes the court each night to make a statement, and some nights are reserved for a very special statement.
Such is the case Monday night.
That’s when Durant and the Warriors face Indiana at Oracle Arena. Though Pacers All-Star Paul George is one of Durant’s good friends, that relationship turns salty when they share the court on opposite sides.
“He’s my favorite player in the league. I’ve been saying that for a while,” Durant said after shootaround Monday morning. “He’s just so smooth, man, and can do it all: can pass, can rebound, can defend, can shoot the J, can post up, handle the ball. He’s my favorite player.
“Just getting to know him over the last few years, it makes the competition even better when we play against each other. I‘ve got nothing but respect for Paul. It’s a mutual respect. We always have battles when we play against each other, so I’m looking forward to it tonight.”
The players, longtime USA teammates in international competition, are similar in some regards. Both are listed at 6-foot-9, though Durant is closer to 7 feet. Both play “small forward,” but also can slide to power forward. Both are excellent scorers but also very capable defenders. And both seem to have found the perfect symmetry between confidence and humility.
“We want the same things on the basketball court,” Durant said. “He’s low-maintenance. He’s a superstar, but he’s a low-maintenance guy, doesn’t need much. It’s the same type of attitude that I bring. Just loves to play the game. Loves to work, too, so we kind of clicked.”
Durant, 28, is averaging 27.3 points per game, which leads the Warriors and ranks seventh in the NBA. He’s also averaging 8.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
George, 26, is averaging 20.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He has missed seven games due to injuries but played 34 minutes Sunday night in a win over the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Durant recalled practicing with George, and also with Rockets star James Harden, during offseason sessions in LA. Three of the NBA’s best, on different teams, coming together to get better.
Which helps explain why Durant is happy for George, and pleased to see his friend back in action – not that it will be visible Monday night.
“When you’re on the court, you act like you don’t really know those guys,” Durant said. “And then, after the game is over, it’s all love. It brings a different level of competition to the game of basketball, and it’s been fun.”
OAKLAND – The Warriors will seek a successful conclusion to their five-game homestand Monday night, when they face the Indiana Pacers at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors have won three of four over the past nine days at home and 13 of their last 14 overall. They also own the NBA’s best record (17-3) and rank No. 1 in scoring (119.1 points per game).
The Pacers (10-10), however, will be a very different team than that which the Warriors pasted 120-83 two weeks ago in Indianapolis. All-Star forward Paul George, terrific young center Myles Turner and guard C.J. Miles all missed that game with injuries.
Indiana is coming off a 111-102 victory Sunday night over the Clippers in Los Angeles. The Pacers wiped out a 13-point second-half deficit to take the win.
Warriors by 13.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Kevin Durant vs. Paul George. Both are oversized “small” forwards with high-end athleticism. Durant is having an MVP-level season, while George has been a tick below his usual lofty standard, partly because he has been fighting injuries. He’s healthy now. This battle of elite players is deserving of a spotlight.
Warriors: No injuries listed.
Pacers: No injuries listed.
Warriors: C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the D-League.
The Warriors won the first meeting, 120-83, on Nov. 21 in Indianapolis, and have won three straight and five of the last six. The Warriors have won seven of the last nine at Oracle Arena.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Ball security. The Warriors can get sloppy at times, often against mediocre opponents, but Indy’s active defense is good enough to make them pay. The Pacers are tops in the league in forcing turnovers (16 per game) and second in steals.
Pound the glass. Though the Warriors are not a particularly strong rebounding team, ranking 19th in rebounding percentage, they’ll need to be good enough to take advantage of a Pacers team that ranks dead list in that category.
Contain Myles. Pacers center Myles Turner came to Oakland as a 19-year-old rookie last season and spent the evening punishing the Warriors, ringing up 31 points – his career-high. The Warriors had no answer for the 6-foot-11, 280-pound specimen, who happens to be a spectacular athlete.