Plenty at stake for some Warriors in Las Vegas

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Plenty at stake for some Warriors in Las Vegas

The Warriors summer league team has begun practicing in LasVegas in preparation for their first game on Friday night. Three Warriorsrookies Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green will make theirpro debuts for the Warriors, but theyre not the only ones with something atstake.

RECAP: Warriors' roster, schedule set for 2012 Summer League
The Warriorswill also have three second-yearplayers on their roster: Charles Jenkins, Jeremy Tyler and ChrisWright.Heres a run-down of each player, and what to look for oncethe games begin:Harrison Barnes: The strength of Barnesgame is at the offensive end. He is a smooth jump shooter with a solidmid-range game and a 3-point shot that is improving.What the Warriors would like to see most, however, fromBarnes this summer is an ability to defend. Warriors owner Joe Lacob andgeneral manager Bob Myers have said they believe Barnes is a much betterathlete than given credit for.If thats the case, theres no reason Barnes, who is6-foot-8, cant excel at that end of the floor. Well get a first taste ofwhether he can this week.Well also get a read on whether its realistic to pencil inBarnes as the starter at small forward or whether that may have towait.Festus Ezeli: The Warriors are high onEzeli, and why shouldnt they be? After Andrew Bogut and David Lee, theWarriors front line is very thin, and so theres an opportunity for Ezeli toget minutes.For Ezeli, his job description should be relatively simple:Rebound, defend and take fouls at the rim. If he can show in Vegas hes capableof doing those things, it will bode very well for him heading into trainingcamp in the fall.Draymond Green: He had a tremendouscollege career at Michigan State, but there are concerns about him being atweener. The fear is that hes not big enough to be a power forward and notquick enough to play small forward.But theres another scenario, and its this: What if Greenis too quick for power forwards to defend and too strong and skilled on the boxfor small forwards to cover? We could get the first glimpse of that inVegas.If thats the case, Green could be a significant contributordown the road.Charles Jenkins: Until further notice or until the Warriors sign a free-agent point guard Jenkins is the de factobackup to Stephen Curry. Jenkins had a nice rookie season, taking advantage ofinjuries to players ahead of him, but it remains to be seen whether he canhandle a full-time backup role for 82 games.That vision should become clearer this week. Theres noreason Jenkins, with an NBA season under his belt, shouldnt be one of theWarriors best players in summer league. Heck, Jenkins should be one of thebest players in the entire league.And there will be no better time than in the next week or soto start determining whether Jenkins could possibly handle the full-time backuprole at point. Because at this point, thats what he is: Stephen Currysbackup.Jeremy Tyler: It would not be anunderstatement to say that this is a big summer league for Tyler. Its not thatTyler had a disappointing rookie season, its just that he didnt necessarilyprove to anyone that he can be a positive factor on an NBA team.One of the knocks on Tyler is that he lacks intensity. Thatis one area where Ezeli is said to excel. If theres a matchup or competitionto watch in Vegas, it would be the one between Tyler and Ezeli.Chris Wright: He doesnt have aguaranteed contract for 2012-13, so Wright must prove himself. One thing Wrighthas going for him is his athleticism, which is off the charts.Thats important because the Warriors are a team lacking inthat department. But Wright must also show hes made progress on his perimetergame, most notably becoming a better 18- to 20-foot shooter.Wright played power forward at Dayton, but hes trying tobecome a small forward at the NBA level.

Livingston on Kerr: 'He’s our leader ... somebody that we count on'

Livingston on Kerr: 'He’s our leader ... somebody that we count on'

OAKLAND -- Though much has been said about the agonies and challenges facing Steve Kerr, including speculation about when, or if, he’ll return as head coach of the Warriors, little has been put into words that capture the significance of his absence.

This is perhaps because it can be difficult to explain how one man is able to influence a roster of supremely talented athletes, at the wealthiest point of life, with wildly divergent personalities, at different career stages.

Veteran guard Shaun Livingston, a man who knows perspective as well as anyone in the NBA, took a moment Saturday to cut through the palaver and pity to offer a clear and vivid illustration of Kerr’s value as a man and as a coach.

“It’s just his presence, his personality,” Livingston began. “His character, the way he fits in with us. He’s kind of the battery pack, in the sense that he makes everybody go. He keeps us all (in harmony), everybody from staff, training staff, coaching staff to the players.

“He bridges the gaps, in the sense of communication, and he makes it light.”

In short, Kerr’s value to the franchise is far greater than his duties as a coach. He has an easy, breezy charisma insofar as he’s so comfortable submerging his own ego while being remarkably good at making everyone matter.

Moreover, Kerr is decidedly inclusive, explicitly emphatically open to ideas. He’s an outreach specialist whose sensibilities are contagious.

All of which helps create a sprightly and genial workplace, something the Warriors sought when they hired Kerr to replace the swaggering and dogmatic Mark Jackson in May 2014.

“Every day it’s something new, in a sense, and that’s hard to do,” Livingston said. “We’re here for six to nine months for the past couple years, seeing the same faces. So it is kind of like a job. But (Kerr) makes it more like a game and tries to make sure we’re enjoying ourselves out there.”

Kerr wants to live his life and coach basketball around four basic tenets: joy, mindfulness, compassion and competition. Maintaining a balance of the four can be difficult, especially when Kerr is dealing with the searing pain that has him on the sideline for an indefinite period.

But Kerr never strays far. His players seem to see and, more important, feel that.

Draymond Green and Kerr, each volatile in his own way, don’t always see eye-to-eye. Yet Green on several occasions has noted that Kerr “always seems to find the right thing to say, at the right time.”

Veteran David West points out that anyone who spends any time around Kerr can sense his basic humanity. Veteran Andre Iguodala, one of the team’s co-captains, speaks of Kerr’s curiosity and desire to broaden his horizons.

Stephen Curry, the other co-captain, kept the ball from the Warriors’ Game 4 win over Portland last Monday night, punctuating a series sweep, and gave it to Kerr, who missed Games 3 and 4 while coping with this prolonged post-surgery pain.

Lead assistant Mike Brown, the acting head coach in Kerr’s absence, concedes he has benefited from being around Kerr and this team.

“The tone he sets is the best I’ve been around,” said Brown, who has been involved in the NBA since 1992. “This is a special, special situation, and he’s big reason why.”

So it’s not just Livingston who throwing rose petals at the boss. He just happened to convey in a few words the effect Kerr has on the team and within the building.

“He’s our leader,” Livingston said. “He’s somebody that we count on.”

Warriors update health status of Livingston, Barnes

Warriors update health status of Livingston, Barnes

OAKLAND -- One day after every member of the Warriors participated in a full scrimmage, the official health updates were released.

Veteran forward Matt Barnes, out since April 8, is listed as probable for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals that begin Tuesday at Oracle Arena.

Veteran guard Shaun Livingston, out since sustaining a finger/hand injury in Game 1 of the first-round series against Portland on April 16, is listed as questionable -- but with an asterisk.

“Hopefully, we’ll be ready for Tuesday,” Livingston said after a light workout Saturday.

Livingston informed NBCSportsBayArea.com earlier this week that he would have been available, hypothetically, if the Warriors were facing a Game 7.

As for Kevin Durant, who missed five weeks with a knee injury before returning April 8, only to sustain a calf strain in Game 1 against the Trail Blazers, he’s fully available.