Lets face it, if Warriors coach Mark Jackson followsthrough on his promise to demand that his players defend, then it stands toreason forward Lou Amundson could benefit.Amundson is one of the few players on the Warriors with adefensive mindset, and his ability to be physical, block some shots, reboundand take a hard foul may very well lead to him having more of a role with thisyears Warriors than last years Warriors.Going into this knowing the emphasis hes going to put ondefense, thats something I really believe in, Amundson said Friday, from theWarriors practice facility. Being on that Phoenix team and kind of witnessingand being a part of the transformation we made from a mediocre defensive teamto a rather good defensive team, as players its what we need to make happen.It gets me excited to bring that here.It wasnt an overly dramatic defensive improvement for theSuns from 2008-09 to 2009-10, but it was effective. They went from giving up107.5 points per game to giving up 105.3 points per game but that helped themto an eight-game improvement, from 46 wins to 54 wins.That kind of nudge-up for the Warriors would put them in theplayoff mix in the Western Conference.Amundson played only 46 games a year ago, a victim of injuryand former coach Keith Smarts rotation. He averaged only four points and 4.3rebounds per game and shot 45 percent from the field well below his 55 and 54percent from the field in the previous two seasons.But Amundsons intent is have a bounce-back year, and hecould be on his way. He has worked out and played basketball all offseason andhe was the first Warrior player back to the Bay Area now that the lockout hasended.If the Warriors are going to make good on Jacksons otherpromise to make the playoffs theyre going to need contributions from lotsof players, not the least of which is Amundson.If you have a good second unit, that can change the game,Amundson said. Obviously, you put a lot of expectations on the first unit todo the job at the start of games and in crunch time. But a lot of times gamesare won and lost in that middle time at the end of the first quarter or endof the third quarter and beginning of the fourth.
The NBA took a massive power shift Wednesday with the Clippers trading point guard Chris Paul to the Rockets for seven players, a 2018 first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-3) and $661,000.
Houston GM Daryl Morey is going all in on a mission to compete with the Warriors and he believes the Rockets are now there with the pairing of Paul and MVP runner-up James Harden.
"You know, it's a guards-based league. It's a weapons race in the NBA and you're either in the weapons race or on the sidelines," Morey said at the team's press conference, as captured by Mark Berman of Houston's FOX 26. "With James Harden in his prime and Chris Paul in his prime, this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams in this league."
Paul, who turned 32 in May, is a nine-time All-Star. He spent his last six seasons with the Clippers and averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game during the 2016-17 season in 61 games played.
This past season, Harden became a primary point guard for the first time under Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced offense and the bearded lefty excelled in his new position. Harden led the NBA with 11.2 assists per game while putting up 29.1 points per game.
Houston received guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell, plus the non-guaranteed deals of DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard and Kyle Wiltjer from Los Angeles.
The Rockets went 55-27 last season, four games ahead of the Clippers, but were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs to the Spurs.
DANVILLE -- Everything the Warriors have said and done, as well as everything Stephen Curry has said, indicates there is no chance of a divorce, even though Curry becomes an unrestricted free agent at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning.
Curry has pointed out numerous times that he plans to sign with the Warriors, implying that it would be pointless for other teams to pursue him on the open market.
And on Wednesday afternoon, Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers reiterated the team’s stance regarding the two-time MVP by expressing Curry would be a top priority.
“He’s got to be,” Myers said at Monte Vista High School, where he and Warriors forward Draymond Green was subjects of a news conference/pep rally in the wake of Myers being named Executive of the Year and Green being named Defensive Player of the Year.
Myers was careful not to slight other players the Warriors expect to re-sign, such as Kevin Durant, and those the team hopes to retain, notably Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
“Actually, we’ve got a lot of priorities,” Myers said. “But, certainly, touching all of them and making sure we do our job and make sure they know we want them is important,” Myers said. “But he knows how we feel. I think he’s happy. But he’s a huge priority.”
The Warriors are allowed to pay Curry about $200 million over the next five seasons, and CEO Joe Lacob has said he’s ready to do whatever it takes.