Can Warriors replace Rush? Should they?

672818.jpg

Can Warriors replace Rush? Should they?

It stinks what happened to Brandon Rush. He tore the ACL inhis left knee in Fridays game against the Memphis Grizzlies and will miss theremainder of the season.Rush, who averaged 9.8 points per game and shot 45 percentfrom 3-point range last year, was the teams best wing defender and an integralpart of the improved Warriors bench.Hes tough to replace. But the question is this: Can theWarriors try to replace him?The answer is yes, but there are challenges the Warriorswould face in terms of replacing Rush on the roster with another player. Itsdoable, but is it worth it?The first thing the Warriors would have to do is apply tothe league for a disabled player exception. That exception would likely begranted, which would mean the Warriors could use 50 percent of Rushs salary toacquire a player either by way of a free agent signing or a trade.Rush is earning 4 million in 2012-13, so the Warriors wouldhave 2 million to use.Warriors general manager Bob Myers said on Sunday the teamis looking at its options.But heres where it gets a little tricky. The money you useto sign a player or trade for a player counts toward your payroll. In theWarriors case, their payroll is slightly more than 70.3 million, which is theluxury tax threshold.At this point, the Warriors are considered a tax-payingteam, but they have several ways to get back under the tax by the end of theseason when the tax is actually computed.If you are a tax-paying team, you must pay one dollar forevery dollar over. In addition, the Warriors would be ineligible to receive anymoney generated from the penalty money that is redistributed to non-tax-paying teamsby the leagueIf the Warriors were to use 2 million to sign or trade fora player or a portion of that it would make it that much more difficult toget back under the luxury tax by the end of the season.Also important is that if the Warriors were to acquire aplayer with the exception, they would have to waive a player. Right now theWarriors roster is at the league-maximum 15 players.They have 14 guaranteed contracts. Kent Bazemore is on apartial guarantee.Going out and getting someone to replace Rush let alonesomeone you want to contribute comes at a price. The free agent names arisingare Mickael Pietrus, Maurice Evans, Josh Howard and Kenyon Martin.Also to consider is the Warriors have Richard Jefferson, an11-year veteran who has more playoff experience than anyone on the roster. Hecould fill in. Or perhaps there might be times when you could squeeze DraymondGreen into the small forward spot for Rush.Heck, what's the problem with giving rookie starter Harrison Barnes a little more wiggle room?You can certainly expect coach Mark Jackson to use more of alineup that includes Jarrett Jack at point guard, Stephen Curry at shootingguard and Klay Thompson at small forward.The Warriors certainly have enough bodies to cover for theabsence of Rush. Could they try to acquire a player? Yes, they could. But atthis point, theyre doesnt seem to be a great need to.

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

OAKLAND -- No one among the Warriors had a deeper desire to beat the Cavaliers than Stephen Curry, and his performance Monday gave every indication that he wanted it as badly as he needed it.

And after losing the point-guard battle to Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving in four successive games, all Warriors losses, it was past time for Curry as the back-to-back MVP to stand up and make a statement.

His response was impressive: 20 points (7-of-20 shooting), 11 assists, four steals and a 126-91 rout by the Warriors. He was plus-23 over 31 minutes.

“He was making shots, it’s as simple as that,” Irving said. “In transition, off pick-and-rolls, doing what he does and that makes him a great player.”

Irving’s response: 17 points (6-of-19 shooting), two assists and a game-high-tying (with teammate LeBron James) six turnovers. Irving was minus-12 over 29 minutes.

“Steph was great,” coach Steve Kerr said. “A phenomenal first half, I think he had 10 assists. His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

Curry has been playing with renewed vigor lately, his mentality changing shortly after the Warriors on Christmas Day in Cleveland blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, taking a 109-108 loss. Curry took only 11 shots, scoring 15 points.

He was particularly good in the first half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, with 10 assists and three steals. Curry clearly came to destroy.

“It was a great way to start, just a foot on the gas pedal,” Curry said.

Curry’s game, along with the victory, may silence some of the narrative suggesting the Cavaliers have his number. Though he was displeased with one aspect of his game, Curry happily accepted the outcome. Or that Irving hadn't caught up to him.

“I obviously wanted to play well; I didn’t want to walk off the floor with anything more than what I think is a solid, aggressive game,” he said. “I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I wanted to. Some shots I normally make didn’t go down.

But I can live with that knowing I took care of the other stuff I was supposed to do on the floor. Really, what was all in my head was that I definitely wanted to leave this arena tonight with a solid performance and obviously get the win.”

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

OAKLAND -- There was a single play Monday night that delighted Warriors fans more than any other in a 126-91 win over the Cavaliers, and it was not any of five 3-point bombs dropped by Oracle Arena favorite Stephen Curry.

Nor was it the high-velocity collision between Draymond Green and LeBron James, which resulted in Green being assessed with a Flagrant Foul 1 and the Warriors cranking up their intensity to another level.

No, the most satisfying play of all was on defense, and it was made by offensive wizard Kevin Durant, who sent a resounding message to the Cavaliers and, moreover, to James, Cleveland’s superstar forward.

With 9:48 left in the third quarter and James driving in for a dunk, Durant responded by rising up and cleanly stuffing the shot, sending James sprawling helplessly to the floor as the Warriors gained possession and raced the other way.

“That block at the rim was definitely great,” Draymond Green said. “If LeBron dunks on him right there, the momentum swings, he’s excited and everything can possibly swing. Yeah, he made a stand. Got a big block for us and we got off to the races. That puts momentum completely in our favor.”

With the crowd pumping up the volume, the Warriors, already in control, finished the job. And don’t think Durant isn’t aware of the effect such a play has.

“Yeah, especially when you’re at home, when you get a block against anybody, the crowd is into the game and they really enjoy that,” he said. “Around the league now, in every arena, fans are starting to respect defense. They can sense that it’s a momentum shift when you get a big block or a huge steal or a block.”

It also put momentum, on a personal level, in Durant’s favor. Despite the fact that Curry has won the last two MVP awards, it’s widely believed that James and Durant are the top two players in the NBA.

James has three championship rings, while Durant has none. James has four MVP awards, to one for Durant. When the two met in the 2012 NBA Finals, when Durant was with the Thunder and James with the Heat, Miami won in five games.

Durant, who entered the league four years after James, is at the point in his career that he believes he’s ready for anything James may have. Furthermore, since coming to the Warriors last summer, Durant clearly embraces the opportunity to beat James.

Durant posted 36 points and 15 rebounds when the teams met in Cleveland on Christmas Day, and posted 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals on Monday. KD, on an individual basis, is now 2-0 this season against LeBron.

“Guarding one of the best players in the league, and somebody that can score in different ways and impact the game from different ways, whether it’s in transition or the pick-and-roll or (isolation), I just tried to stay locked in and relied on my teammates,” Durant said.