Mailtime Assuming the Warriors re-sign Brandon Rush and adda backup power forward, is this a playoff team? Robert, Petaluma,Calif.Steinmetz: On paper its the closest theWarriors have been to being a playoff team since 2007-08, when they won 48games.Now, Im not saying this is a 48-win team. Im saying thisis the best roster the Warriors have had since that time. However, here comethe disclaimers.First, the Western Conference is still a bear. OklahomaCity, the Lakers, the Clippers, the Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies are allmore talented than the Warriors.As long as Dallas has Dirk Nowitzki, I think theyre going tomake the playoffs, particularly because I think they did enough to maintainthis offseason. So, that leaves two openings and teams such as the Warriors,Denver, Houston, Portland, Utah, Phoenix and Minnesota.Can the Warriors compete with that group? Yes, assumingtheyre healthy. And, really, thats what so much of this comes down to. CanStephen Curry and Andrew Bogut play full seasons or relatively close to fullseasons? That will, in many ways, dictate the Warriors season.If theyre healthy, I think the Warriors can compete for oneof the final two playoff spots in the West. I see the Warriors as a teamknocking on the door of .500 again, if healthy and if theyre knocking onthat door it means theyll be in the vicinity.I think if everything goes right for them, maybe this teamcan climb above .500. If theyre banged up or have some bad luck, then I thinktheyre under. But as of right now, yes, I think the goal for the team and thefans should be the playoffs.Whats going on with Brandon Rush? Mark, PaloAlto.Steinmetz: You want to talk about the normalcourse of things this is the normal course of things a lot of time with arestricted free agent. Particularly with the way the Warriors have handled itfrom back in the regular season and shortly thereafter.Its not accurate to say nothing is going on with Brandon Rush,because something could break at any time with another team signing him to anoffer sheet. At the same time, its the kind of situation that could lingerbecause some teams are likely very leery of signing Rush to an offersheet.See, the Warriors have made it clear that Rush is a priorityfor them and that they want to re-sign him. Rush made 3 million last season,so youve got to figure the Warriors are willing to go somewhere in thevicinity of 5 million per season to keep him.So, the question is this: Why would another team sign Rushto an offer sheet, knowing the Warriors are going to match? Not only that, theWarriors could take up to three days to match, meaning that the team thatsigned Rush to the offer sheet might have to remain idle during thattime.Its one thing to come up with a whopper of an offer likeMinnesota did with Nicolas Batum or Houston did with Jeremy Lin but Rush isdifferent. Hes not so coveted that a team is going to offer him that kind ofmoney.So, again, I could see this lingering for a while, and if itdoes, it does. But you never know maybe a team like Minnesota, which struckout on Batum, might be trying to put something together for Rush.But the reality is that the Warriors are in control of theRush situation, and they know it.Any word on whether the Warriors are interested inAndray Blatche? Ryan, Santa Clara.Steinmetz: Oh, lordy, I hope not. Few players inthe NBA have underachieved like Andray Blatche. He came into the league withcomparisons to Kevin Garnett, but hasnt turned out to be a shell of the playerGarnett wasis.Blatche seems to be everything the Warriors are trying tosteer away from these days. Owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers havebeen stressing the importance of bringing in character people, and thats notthe reputation Blatche has.From a practical standpoint, what concerns me most aboutBlatche is that he seems to have lost all the athleticism he once had. Thatmeans hes a player without know-how and a player without athleticism.Ill pass on him, and Im sure the Warriors will,too.
OAKLAND -- For the first time in nearly four weeks, the Warriors will take the court Thursday night with their regular starting lineup.
Center Zaza Pachulia, out since Jan. 29 with a strained rotator cuff, was cleared to play and will return to his status as the starting center when the Warriors face the Clippers at Oracle Arena, coach Steve Kerr said in his pregame news conference.
Backup center David West, who has been out since Jan. 18 with a fractured thumb, also received clearance and will be available.
JaVale McGee, who performed well while starting eight games in place of Pachulia, will return to his normal role, playing spot minutes off the bench.
“I considered either way, but I think we had a good groove with Zaza as a starter,” Kerr said. “And JaVale was still making an impact when Zaza was starting, bringing him in midway through the first quarter. We hadn’t done it the other way.
“I’ve seen JaVale with our other group, later in the first quarter, and that worked well. So I figured I might as well go back to what’s already worked.”
While Pachulia was out, McGee averaged 9.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 16.5 minutes per game. Generating most of his offense on dunks off lobs, he is shooting 74.7 percent (71-of-95) over his last 22 games and 67.8 percent this season.
Pachulia, who has started 44 games, is averaging 5.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He is shooting 52.7 percent from the field.
OAKLAND -- Zaza Pachulia holds his own during competitive games of poker on the airplane alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson - they call it the "Good Guys Table." Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee, one-time teammates with Denver reunited in Oakland, hold secret chats.
"We're building an empire," Iguodala joked. "We've got secret stuff we can't talk about."
Jonnie West - son of Hall of Famer and Warriors executive Jerry West - joins Curry, Pachulia and Thompson for their card games.
"It depends how Klay feels. If he's tired, then no card game," Pachulia said.
With all that was made before the season about adding Kevin Durant to an already star-studded roster, Golden State's players have jelled just fine. The NBA-best Warriors (47-9) are gearing up for the second half and what they hope is another championship run, and chemistry sure isn't holding them back.
Two-time reigning MVP Curry and KD love to watch each other accomplish amazing things on the floor, along with Draymond Green and Thompson and all of the others who contribute off the bench.
Curry initially allowed Durant to find his groove, then began to assert himself more and increase his shots. Experience playing together is the biggest factor to keep building team bonds, if you ask Iguodala.
"Weathering storms builds chemistry and adversity builds chemistry," he said. "The season's long and you want to have all types of ups and downs. And that's where you build it the most, and off the court, plane rides. I think when you play with teammates seven, eight years, you're still building throughout that time. You continue to learn about each other. You've just got to understand that that's part of the process and you've got to want to learn from one another."
The Warriors are counting on every advantage they can gain, on and off the court. During flights, team dinners, anywhere.
After a heartbreaking Game 7 to end last season's NBA Finals, Golden State's players want nothing short of a championship. Many of them got a taste winning the title two years ago for the franchise's first in 40 years.
Steve Kerr, the reigning NBA Coach of the Year, gets a kick out of watching his teams come together each year.
"It's one of my favorite parts of coaching honestly, is seeing how a team comes together, seeing the relationships develop, seeing guys laughing together, seeing who hangs out with who," Kerr said. "It's great. This team has a really, really good chemistry that developed really quickly. Obviously, we had the core group intact from last year. We lost some key guys, too. The additions have been great. The chemistry is really good."
Pachulia took it upon himself to be a part of that. With constant attention on the Warriors, he knows the importance of sticking together through all of the many challenges that come in an 82-game season - and those things prepare a group for the postseason.
"You wish for the chemistry to come right away because you're kind of feeling pressure, a lot of talk's going on from outside," Pachulia said. "The reality is it's a process. It takes some days, it takes some games. It takes some bumps as well for the team to get on the same page and get the chemistry right. You've got to go through the process. I just don't see it the other way. We couldn't wait for these 40 or 50 games to pass and see where we were going to be. I feel really confident where we are right now, with everything we had throughout this 50 games, even the losses we had unexpected. It made us better, it made us stronger. You can appreciate it, honestly. We care about each other. We're on the same page. Keep going. We're not going to stop."
For Iguodala and McGee, the "chatter" stays between them.
"I have a lot of really in-depth conversations with JaVale McGee," Iguodala said, "about life."