Jackson on trip to China: 'It was a great experience overall'
Warriors fans are conditioned to live on the brink of anxiety and some may have felt cursed after 7-foot center Andrew Bogut walked off the court clutching his back last Friday.
They can relax, at least for now, as Bogut was a full participant in practice Sunday, the Warriors’ first workout since returning from China at 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
Save your worries instead for forward Harrison Barnes, who has been sidelined since Oct. 7 with inflammation in his left foot.
Coach Mark Jackson on Sunday expressed no concern about Bogut but seemed considerably more cautious when asked about Barnes.
"I’m not concerned," Jackson said. "With Andrew, it was a little stiffness. So there’s no concern. Obviously, with Harrison, he had to take time off. But we’re going to stay true to the process. There’s no concern because we’ve had proper time to recover. Hopefully he comes back 100 percent and we don’t have to look back at this any more."
Barnes has been held out every day since leaving in the first quarter of the Oct. 7 preseason win over Sacramento at Oracle Arena. Jackson initially indicated the ailment was relatively minor. With the coach now conceding Barnes is not expected to play at Sacramento on Wednesday – and without a timetable for his return – there is legitimate reason for concern.
"(He’s) feeling better; it’s still a process," Jackson said. "We’re still going to allow his body to rest, recover and continue to get treatment. And we’ll play it by ear."
Barnes is the team’s youngest and most explosive player, a wing whose profile was raised after numerous spectacular moments last postseason.
On the broader scale, Barnes is one of three players – along with veteran Andre Iguodala and third-year wing Klay Thompson – competing for the final two positions in the starting lineup. With Barnes now missing most of training camp and the preseason, it’s logical to assume he’ll open the season as the team’s sixth man.
"I’m closer," Jackson said, referring to naming the two starters to go alongside Stephen Curry, David Lee and Bogut. "Obviously, the setback with Harrison affects that. But we’ll be ready and prepared when a decision is made."
The regular-season opener is Oct. 30 against the Lakers at Oracle.
Bogut, however, is expected to play Wednesday at Sacramento and in the preseason finale against Portland on Thursday at Oracle. Moreover, Jackson indicated his first-quarter departure from the win over the Lakers in Shanghai was more precautionary than necessary.
"I said it when I took him out," the coach said. "He waved me off and wanted to stay in the game. But it was a smart thing to do, especially facing a long trip. And I’m glad that he’s recovered and looks like himself."
Coach reads the odometer: Backup center Jermaine O’Neal has missed two of the past three games, the first with back pain and the second due to mileage concerns.
Put another way, the rattling and wheezing of a 6-11, 255-pound body entering its 18th NBA season gives Jackson sound reason to occasionally rest a healthy O’Neal.
"I’m a coach that’s going to listen to my players . . . sometimes, you gotta shut them down," the coach said. "I just want to be smart with him, understanding that he’s no longer that high-school kid coming into the league. He’s got a lot of mileage on his body and we’re going to need him."
Success abroad: With the Warriors sweeping two games against the Lakers in China, Jackson pronounced the nine-day trip a success.
"It’s important for us to begin to develop who we are, our own identity, understand individual roles and what’s needed of us as a team to get in the habit of winning," he said. "That’s the most valuable thing that we got out of our China experience."
Said wing Klay Thompson: "We’re still getting our legs under us, still getting in great game shape. We improve a lot just in two games."