Its been a long offseason, but itstime to get busy. The NBA lockout ended early Saturday morning, and theWarriors have things to do.The Warriors havent played for aboutseven months, so it might be worth the time for a little refreshercourse.When we last left them they had finishedthe season 36-46, 10 wins short of the No. 8 playoff team in the WesternConference. In other words, they've still got a ways to go.But for now, this is the roster theWarriors are sitting with, including for how long each player remains undercontract.Lou Amundson, PF: One year remaining at 2.4million. Amundson wasn't healthy for most of last year, and the Warriors needmore energy off the bench from him this season.Charlie Bell, PG: Oneyear remaining at 4.1 million. Hard to imagine Bell will be any kind offactor. Expect the Warriors to package Bell as part of a deal or hold onto himso his 4-million-plus comes off the books at season's end. Its possible theycould use the amnesty clause on Bell, although that would seem a tadshort-sighted.Andris Biedrins, C: Three years remaining at 27million. Once upon a time, this contract seemed OK. But that was beforeBiedrins' game went missing. Can he retrieve it?Stephen Curry, PG: Twoyears remaining at 7 million. The Warriors have made it clear they want Curryas part of their long-term future. But does Curry want the Warriors?Monta Ellis, SG: Threeyears remaining at 33 million. It's a simple question and one the Warriorshave been wrestling with for a little while: Can the Warriors get better bytrading their best player?Charles Jenkins, SG: Unsignedrookie. Is Jenkins destined for the D-League or does he have a shotat beating out Jeremy Lin?David Lee, PF: Fiveyears remaining at 68.5 million. No doubt it hurts when you see the amount ofmoney Lee is still owed. General manager Larry Riley hoped to build around Lee,but there are other voices now in the team's front office.Jeremy Lin, PG: Unsignedsecond-year player. Everyone knows Warriors owner Joe Lacob had a lot to do withLin's signing. But if Lin isn't cutting it in Year No. 2, will Lacob keep himaround?Klay Thompson, SG: Unsignedrookie. Looks to have NBA range, and seems likely to get some backup minutes atshooting guard and small forward.Jeremy Tyler, C: Unsignedrookie. The question comes down to Tyler's motor. If he's into it andcommitted, he could pitch in off the bench for the Warriors. If not, he'll getplenty of playing time in Dakota.Ekpe Udoh, PF: Threeyears remaining at 11.2 million. Udoh seems poised to make strides in hissecond year. He's gotten stronger and knows he'll consistently be in therotation. And as the Warriors' best interior defender, coach Mark Jackson isgoing to use him.Dorell Wright, SF: Twoyears remaining at 7.9 million. Wright's game took off last year. This yearthey need that -- and for him to get back to his defending ways.
After conquering the third-place Rockets in Part I of the toughest two-night stint this season, the Warriors on Wednesday night will take aim on Part II of the challenge.
Which likely will be even more difficult, as the first-place Warriors are going into the historically imposing AT&T Center in San Antonio to face the Spurs, who reside in second place in the Western Conference.
A win by the Warriors (60-14) would reduce to five the magic number for clinching the No. 1 overall seed for the playoffs. A victory by the Spurs (57-16) would pull them within 1.5 games of the top-seeded Warriors.
The Warriors, buoyed by the best defense in the NBA this month, have won eight consecutive games. The win streak began immediately after their last trip to San Antonio, on March 11, when coach Steve Kerr rested Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson.
The Spurs have won five in a row and will be trying to complete a three-game season sweep of the Warriors, who have not been swept by any team since Kerr was hired in 2014.
Spurs by 4.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Klay Thompson & Co. vs. Kawhi Leonard: Arguably the league’s best two-way player, Leonard has intruded on what was a two-man MVP race. He has emerged as a team leader and the man who must be neutralized to beat Spurs. Thompson will among several Warriors -- Matt Barnes and Green also will get opportunities -- trying to keep Leonard in check.
Warriors: F/C James Michael McAdoo (L eyebrow laceration) is listed as probable. F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.
Spurs: G Dejounte Murray (L groin strain) is listed as out.
Warriors: 8-2. Spurs: 7-3.
The Spurs won both games earlier this season, one in Oakland and one in San Antonio. The Warriors won three of four last season but have lost nine of the last 13 meetings overall. They have lost 34 of the last 35 games in San Antonio.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
THE CHESS GAME: Though neither coach has announced intentions to rest anyone, both realize they could meet again in the postseason. Therefore, neither is likely to tip his full hand in terms of schemes and tactics. Yet it could be said the Warriors, without Durant, have an ace in the hole.
THE FOURS: San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and the Warriors’ Green have been battling for several years. Despite height and physique that pale in comparison to Aldridge, Green’s aggressive nature and knowledge of angles and tendencies have allowed him to contain the bigger man. On the other end, Green hopes his tender ankle won’t prevent him from outrunning the bigger power forward.
THE BENCHES: San Antonio’s bench is deep and frisky; its 10.2 net rating is tops in the NBA. The Warriors, however, have gotten strong play from their reserves and now own the No. 2 net rating (7.4). Both teams have impact players here. Patty Mills is as much of a factor for the Spurs as Iguodala is for the Warriors.
Though Kevin Durant will miss at least five more games, there remains a possibility he could return to the Warriors lineup before the end of the regular season, according to an update provided by the team on Wednesday.
The team’s leading scorer, Durant has missed the last 15 games after sustaining a sprained medial collateral ligament and bone bruise to his left knee on Feb. 28 at Washington. After several days with the knee immobilized, he has spent the past two weeks participating in individual workouts.
“Kevin has made very good progress since suffering the injury four weeks ago in Washington,” began a statement issued by the team. “He has not experienced any setbacks to date and has progressed as well as could be expected. At this point, he is being incorporated into non-contact basketball drills – shooting, running and jumping – and the plan is to intensify his level of movement over the next several days, which will include more explosive cutting and lateral maneuvers.”
Durant has been engaging in shooting and dribbling drills, full-sprint activity and is dunking with ease. The 6-foot-9 forward traveled with the Warriors last week to Oklahoma City and Dallas and is with the team on its current trip to Houston and San Antonio.
“His eventual return to contact drills and practice will be predicated upon his progress to the increased intensity of his workouts, and a return to game action prior to the end of the regular season remains a possibility,” according to the statement. “He will be re-evaluated again in the next 7-10 days.”
The Warriors have eight games remaining on their regular-season schedule, with the last three at home, beginning with the New Orleans Pelicans on April 8.
The playoffs begin on April 15.