NBA mailbag: Should Rush start at small forward?

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NBA mailbag: Should Rush start at small forward?

Mailtime Brandon Rush as a starter, your thoughts? Jason,San Francisco.Steinmetz: You know what? I wasnt giving Rushmuch of a shot at being the starting small forward until he said that was hisgoal a couple of weeks back. Rush provided a legitimate spark off the bench forthe Warriors a year ago, and a safe assumption would be hed have the same rolethis year.But the more I think about it, the more I think its apossibility.Conventional wisdom is that rookie Harrison Barnes or perhaps Richard Jefferson will stepinto the starting small forward role. Butmaybe Barnes wont be ready to be a full-time starter on Day 1. And maybeJefferson isnt the best option there, either.Rush is the best 3-point shooter of that threesome and hesalso got the potential to be the best defender of the three at least earlyinto the season with Barnes still getting his feet wet.Another thing to keep an eye on is that the one thing coachMark Jackson seems to covet in his lineup is toughness. Its why DominicMcGuire had such a big role on the team last season, and its why Rush couldemerge as the starter at small forward.Its not that Rush is a defensive stopper, but on manynights hell give the Warriors their best shot at defending competent andathletic opposing small forwards.Do you think Bob Myers really needed to clarify hiscomments about Mark Jackson and the team earlier this week? Trapped, BayArea.Steinmetz: Not really, and I dont think he wouldhave had I not asked him directly about it.But I have no problem with Myers reaching out to Jacksonafter realizing that what he said might have not come out perfectly.The whole quote about giving Jackson something to workwith and that the team should be improved -- was much ado about nothing. AllMyers said was that he felt like the organization had given Jackson more towork with this upcoming season than it did last season, and that he expectedthe results to be different.The life span of most NBA coaches is not a long one. Factsare facts and there just arent many coaches who can survive consecutive losingseasons. Its the nature of the business.Injuries or no, the Warriors are coming off a 23-43 season,and they have way more talent this season than last. It only stands to reasonthat everyone is expecting bigger and better things in 2012-13.If the Warriors dont make the playoffs this season it willbe disappointing. And if that does happen, it only makes sense to take a lookat what went wrong whether its front office moves, team chemistry orcoaching.Could the Warriors start Jarrett Jack in thepreseason and see how it goes? Seems like it would be smart to work Curry inslowly. Scott, Bay Area.Steinmetz: I just cant see that happening. Thefocus of Currys entire rehab was to have him 100 percent by training camp, andit looks like thats going to happen. If Curry is healthy, he has to be yourstarter, and here are the reasons:First, youve got to find out more about him as a player.Does he have the potential to be an upper-tier point guard long-term? ManyWarriors fans believe he does, and so this would be the year for Curry to provethat.The only way hes going to prove that is if hes gettingstarters minutes and hes healthy.WATCH: Curry on his health: 'I feel great'
Secondly, if you want to have any chance of re-signingCurry, hes got to be the starter. Why would Curry want to re-sign in GoldenState if hes playing behind Jarrett Jack?Look, there are plenty of people out there who believe Curryis best-suited to be a sixth man, or the first guard off the bench. But itstoo early in his career for Curry to concede that, and you cant blame him forthat.Theres no doubt the Warriors should monitor Currys minutesthis season after coming off an injury plagued 2012-13. But that can happenwith Curry being the starter.The bottom line is if Jack starts ahead of Curry, I thinkyou could safely say that Currys days in Golden State are numbered then.The NBA is a joke. Just say it: Three teams have achance next year. Thats it. NBA is horrible. Vic, Bay Area.Steinmetz: I dont think its a joke, but I dothink the NBA is going to have to figure this super-team thing out. One of thereasons the league and teams gave for locking out the players last year was torestore some kind of competitive balance. But, in essence, the new CBA didnothing to address that.Every player in the league knows that in order to win atitle, youre going to have to go through Miami at this point. Well, the onlyway youre going to beat Miami is to assemble a team with at least two eliteplayers. Thats what the Lakers tried to do by getting Howard.Its what the Nets are trying to do find someone to playalongside Deron Williams. Its why Dallas had Dwight Howard and Williams ontheir radar before free agency.Id say, however, that more than three teams can win thetitle, but its not much more than that. Id give Miami, San Antonio, theLakers, Oklahoma City, Boston and perhaps even the Clippers a shot to win itall.

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

OAKLAND -- Though Kevin Durant is eager to get back to the court, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his assistants are in preliminary stages of planning his return.

One thing is certain: There will be restriction on the number of minutes Durant is plays in the first few games after he receives medical clearance.

“It’s something we’ll consult the training staff on,” Kerr said Saturday after practice. “I imagine we’ll ease him back by playing him shorter minutes to start, so he can build up his rhythm and his conditioning.”

Durant has been out since Feb. 28, when he sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and bone bruise to his left knee. After several days of strict immobilization, he has over the past week progressed to the point where he is engaging in vigorous workouts and shooting sessions.

Yet Durant will not be re-evaluated until next Thursday, which means he likely will not be cleared before the week of April 3. Not until then will the coaching staff devise a plan to reintegrate Durant.

“That obviously has a domino effect on the entire rotation,” Kerr said. “When we get to that point, we’ll figure that out. But it’s not something I’m giving a lot of thought to right now because he’s still at least a couple weeks away.”

The Warriors lost five of seven in the immediate aftermath of Durant’s injury but have recovered to win the last six in a row.

 

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any baseball manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.