Lee lighter, Curry heavier at Warriors workouts

540207.jpg

Lee lighter, Curry heavier at Warriors workouts

OAKLAND Some Warriors got together for informal workoutsand a little pickup basketball on Monday at the teams downtown practicefacility the first time players have met up since the end of thelockout.David Lee, Stephen Curry, Dorell Wright, Jeremy Lin, JeremyTyler and Klay Thompson worked out in the late morning and then playedthree-on-three. Ekpe Udoh and Lou Amundson were also at the facility but camelater.Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Charles Jenkins and CharlieBell have not yet returned.Here are some quick impressions of the six thatplayed:David Lee: He said hes 12 pounds lighterthan he was when he came to training camp last season, which sounds aboutright. Lees still got that nice touch from 18 feet, and he hinted that hisrebounding numbers could climb if he can maintain his conditioning allseason.Remember, Lee sustained a human bite wound in a game againstNew York last season and missed nine games and close to a month inconditioning.Lee averaged 9.8 rebounds per game last year, afteraveraging 11.7 rebounds per game in each of the previous two seasons.Stephen Curry: Curry can roll out of bedand make shots and thats what he was doing on Monday. Curry says hes added 10pounds to his frame, and it does seem like hes gotten stronger uptop.Curry said he stayed off his right ankle for about fourmonths after he had surgery in late May, and that it is completely healed andhe is without restrictions. Hes had no pain or soreness in the ankle, but thenagain he hasnt tested it like he will beginning on Friday.Dorell Wright: The foundation of Wrightsoffensive game has become the 3-point shot. Period. He made 180 of them lastseason, almost three times as many as he had in 2009-10 with Miami. The factWright is now a deep threat has defined his game.Next step is to be able to take one dribble into the foulline area and deliver a pass to a teammate or knock down the mid-range shot.Its unrealistic to believe Wright is quick enough or strong enough at the rimto finish there consistently, so the in-between game could be big forhim.Hes also a player who you would figure might be able tothrive if Mark Jackson is as committed to defense as he says he is.Jeremy Lin: Lin worked with a shootingcoach this summer and tweaked the form on his jumper. He says its more fluidand it feels more comfortable. Until and unless the Warriors sign a perimeterplayer or two, Lin is in the mix when it comes to the backup reserves.The only way, however, he can contribute in a significantway is if hes consistent with his perimeter shot.Klay Thompson: Thompson has what you calla very nice stroke, and he seems to be shooting it pretty effortlessly from beyondthe 3-point arc. He also seems to have some hop around the bucket.Thompson is going to have to get stronger, theres no doubtabout that. He looked a little on thin side in the game he was playingin.Jeremy Tyler: Tylers hope is to be acenter, but his body doesnt resemble a center at this point. Hes got someskills and can shoot it some from mid-range, but dont think for a second hesa big body.Hes not. At least not yet. At this point, it seems like itcould be a stretch to think Tyler can guard big, strong fours andfives.

Pau Gasol's lofty praise for Warriors: 'In all my years in the league...'

Pau Gasol's lofty praise for Warriors: 'In all my years in the league...'

The Warriors are NBA Finals bound for the third straight year.

Following their Game 4 victory over the Spurs on Monday night, Pau Gasol opened up about the Western Conference champions.

“They’re in a groove,” Gasol told Courtney Cronin of the Bay Area News Group. “They know what it takes to win and obviously they’ve been champions, they’ve established records that have never been set before and they’re on a path to get another championship.

"In all my years in the league, they’re playing at the highest level right now.”

Gasol entered the NBA as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 draft.

He won championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

The Warriors are the first team in NBA history to enter the Finals with a record of 12-0.

Their average margin of victory in the playoffs is 16.3 points.

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO -- Those following the Warriors and their effort to rage through the playoffs should put away those thoughts and hopes that Steve Kerr will return to full-time coaching later this week or sometime before the NBA Finals.

Forget about it, unless you know something he doesn’t.

And if you do, he wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t get it wrong: Kerr wants to coach, would love to coach. That’s why, even as he feels like hell, he’s hanging around the team like a languid groupie. He wants to be with the Warriors in the heat of battle because they’re his team, within the culture he instilled, and he would like nothing more to get another chance to win The Finals.

But because the procedure he underwent more than two weeks ago at Duke Spine Center did not deliver the relief he’d hoped for, Kerr knows he’s not up to the task and, therefore, continues to operate as sort of a associate head coach to acting head coach Mike Brown.

“Mike is doing great,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com late Monday night, after the Warriors clinched a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 Game 4 win over the Spurs. “He’s such a wonderful human being. He’s so unselfish and team-oriented. I’m proud of him and the job he’s doing, along with the rest of the staff. I wish I could be out there with them. And maybe I will. I don’t know. We’ll see.

“He’s a great partner. And we’re in this together, obviously, but he’s got to make decisions with the staff without me. He’s done a great job of navigating the games. We’re undefeated, so he’s doing something right.”

Kerr can only help from the perimeter. The demands of the job require the coach be able to function at near-peak levels, particularly before and during a game, and he simply can’t. He knows there will be times, all too often, when the discomfort becomes unbearable to such a degree he hardly can think straight.

The agony is visible. The players see it. The staff sees it. Brown sees it, feels it and hears it. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of Kerr’s best friends -- as well as a good friend of Brown -- was able to see it during the Western Conference Finals.

“I've spoken with Steve and Mike; we're friends,” Popovich said two hours before Game 4. “We've known each other a long time. But as far as Steve's concerned, it's just a crap situation.

“You know, he's done a phenomenal job. And when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level. So I feel badly for him all the time but hopeful that stuff will get figured out.”

Nobody wants that more than Kerr, who has tried nearly everything any respectable specialist has recommended. So far, there has been no miracle.

So Kerr forges ahead, getting his Warriors fix by being around the group. By meeting with coaches and players. By meeting with general manager Bob Myers. Kerr was with the Warriors throughout their stay in San Antonio. He was at practices and shootarounds, sometimes on the floor and sometimes sitting in the stands observing from afar.

“I need to be around the guys,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this. Just being in the locker room, being able to talk to the guys means a lot to me. I’m thrilled for them. It’s fun to see how happy they are with three straight trips to The Finals. It’s pretty incredible.”

Kerr has been with the team for at least a few hours every day since May 10, less than a week after his procedure at Duke.

Kerr’s presence has been invaluable, both physically and psychologically, according to staff and players.

“Coach just empowers everybody,” Kevin Durant said. “His message is still the same. Even when he wasn't there in the Utah series, you could still feel his presence. That's what great leaders do.”

Participation, making himself feel useful, is one form of therapy that gives Kerr a semi-satisfying break from the misery.

“He watches film, and he watches the game,” Brown said. “So he gives his perspective from where he is. He gives insight on what we should be doing going forward, what he felt we could have done better, what we did that was good. So he just gives his input, mainly. He addresses the team every once in a while. He doesn't always do that, but he'll address the team from time to time.”

There was some belief that Kerr could return to full-time coaching within a week or so after the procedure, for which he declined to provide details. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob expressed hope Kerr might return “sooner rather than later.” Had it been as successful as Kerr and the doctors hoped, he would have.

That was May 5. Kerr announced he was stepping aside on April 23. As of Wednesday, he was been on leave for a full month.

Asked if he plans to travel during the NBA Finals, Kerr said he hopes so: “It’s like a month away,” he said, exaggerating the nine-day layoff.

He’d rather say with certainty that, yes, he will be accompanying the team because, after all, he’s the head coach.

And he will say that, the moment his body tells him it’s OK to do so.