OAKLAND – Fingers crossed and knocking on wood, the Warriors opened training camp four weeks ago hoping Kevon Looney would survive the preseason.
The 6-foot-9 forward did more than that, easily clearing the ultra-low bar set for someone striving to keep alive his NBA dreams after surgery on both hips.
Looney was rewarded on Sunday, when the Warriors announced they were exercising the third-year option on the UCLA product, extending his contract with the team through the 2017-18 season.
“It was a no-brainer,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice. “He’s the 30th pick (in the 2015 NBA draft). He missed all of last year. We pick up the option and have him locked up for next year after, I think, a really good training camp.”
Warriors general manager Bob Myers saw enough to give the team another year to develop Looney and assess his potential. As a rookie last season, Looney appeared in only five games, a total of 21 minutes, between hip surgeries.
He played in six of seven preseason games, making one start and totaling 73 minutes. He shot 50 percent from the field and ranked fifth on the team in rebounding, exceeding his own expectations.
“I was actually real nervous,” he said, “because last time it was a little different. I came back in the middle of the season, so my rehab was different. I didn’t have a chance to really practice with the guys. They were already in the full swing of things.
“So this is really my first time playing with the guys. I was a little nervous. I was nervous about my hips last time, and I went down again. I feel much more confident. I feel ready.”
Looney, still smoothing out his gait, conceded that he’s still seeking rhythm on offense, saying he’s not yet comfortable with his shot but acknowledging that it’s not a major issue on a team with so many talented shooters.
Kerr considers Looney capable of providing help at power forward and center. The coach does not seem worried about Looney’s offense.
“Now he’s healthy, knock on wood,” Kerr said. “So it was an easy decision for Bob. We briefly talked about (picking up the option), but it wasn’t even really a decision. It was just automatic.”