The Warriors have started to make moves, and Willie Cauley-Stein is the first to go, as the center reportedly has been traded to the Mavericks.
The Warriors reportedly will acquire a 2020 second-round draft pick from Dallas for Cauley-Stein.
The trade of Cauley-Stein gives the Warriors salary cap space and roster flexibility, and the ability to convert one of their two-way players, Ky Bowman or Marquese Chriss, to a guaranteed contract.
With the Warriors out of the playoff race, it makes sense for them to trade some of their players for future assests. Cauley-Stein likely is just the first to go. Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III are the two other Warriors players that should be dealt before the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline.
Cauley-Stein signed a two-year, $4.46 million contract with the Warriors last offseason. The second year of the deal is a player option, so he could stick around Dallas next season.
Dallas was in need of a center after their starter, Dwight Powell, ruptured his Achilles tendon earlier this week.
In 41 games with the Warriors, Cauley-Stein averaged 7.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.
Now that Cauley-Stein is out of the picture, expect Chriss and Omari Spellman to see a majority of the time at center. Draymond Green could also slide over and pick up some minutes at the center spot.
Since then, Iverson repeatedly has said that the Warriors’ superstar would be his point guard if he was assembling an all-time starting five.
“You know what’s funny — I have that saved on my phone,” Curry told Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on the latest episode of “All the Smoke” on Showtime (the full show will air this Thursday). “It’s crazy. It’s crazy, right?
“I ain’t never had a big head. That dude who I picked up a lot of game and inspiration from — he’s now looking at my game …
“Some OGs, they don’t want to relinquish the praise. Same way we respect the OGs, we want it both ways. So when you do hear that, that means something.”
As Steph said after Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals: “Low-key, I’ve always wanted to be like Allen Iverson.”
It must be killing the three-time NBA champion to be sidelined with the broken left hand, especially on nights like Monday in Portland when he sat on the Warriors’ bench while Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard dropped 61 points in an overtime win over the Dubs.
Now is the perfect time to remind everybody that the two-time NBA MVP averaged 36.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists against the Blazers in the 2019 Western Conference Finals, all while shooting 47 percent overall and nearly 43 percent from deep.
It’s safe to assume that Iverson doesn’t forget about that, and neither should you.
Did you know that 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has been a fan of the Warriors for years?
During his Wednesday morning press conference, Shanahan was asked if he has picked up anything in particular from observing Golden State.
“I just have always been a fan of them, even before I got here,” he told reporters. “Just watching how they play. I remember saying in Atlanta that I wanted our receiver group to be similar to the Warriors to where, ‘Who knows who the starter is.’
“They all play. Andre Iguodala. I think he wasn’t the starter and then he was the conference finals or whatever it’s called — the NBA championship — MVP. The seven games that mattered at the end (laughter). You think of stuff like that.
“You just got guys who seem really not to care how it gets done. They all just go out there and ball and see where the weakness in the defense is and wherever that ends up, that guy shoots. And that’s a lot how I see offense.”
It’s called the “NBA Finals” coach. The “NBA Finals.”
Good luck in the “game of championship NFC” this Sunday against the Packers of Green Bay! (just having some fun …)
As for Iguodala — in 2014-15, he came off the bench during all 77 of his regular season appearances, and the Warriors’ first 18 playoff games. But he started Games 4 through 6 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the Dubs captured their first championship in 40 years.
Iguodala averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals against the Cavs, while shooting 52 percent overall and 40 percent from deep. He was named NBA Finals MVP.
And just because we’re feeling nostalgic right now, don’t ever forget what happened in Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors:
It’s unclear where the soon-to-be 36-year-old will end up in the coming weeks, but hopefully he gets the opportunity to make some big plays throughout the 2020 playoffs.
Come Sunday afternoon, the Warriors should receive considerable relief from the despair that has plagued their offense during a frustrating six-game losing streak.
For one, they’re playing the Grizzlies, whose 112.4 defensive rating is 27th in a 30-team league. Memphis is where NBA teams go to pad their scoring stats.
In addition, guard D’Angelo Russell, who has missed the last six games, is expected to play. He’s the Warriors’ leading scorer (23.2 points per game) and most proficient closer on a team that averaged 99.5 points, on 42 percent shooting, over the last six games.
D-Lo’s return is the most convenient way to defibrillate this comatose offense.
But if the D-Lo who takes the court at FedEx Forum is the D-Lo that we’ve seen most of this season, there is a steep price for the Warriors to pay.
Russell’s defense tends to range from half-hearted to indifferent to utterly negligent, which makes him as capable of sabotaging the defense as he is of fortifying the offense.
In the 29 games since coach Steve Kerr expressed undiluted disappointment in his team’s defense — their 117.0 rating was dead last at the time — the Warriors steadily became respectable. They’ve moved up 10 spots, to No. 20 (111.8).
Here’s the truly revealing part: Over the six games that Russell has missed since Dec. 28, the Warriors are, gulp, ninth in defensive rating (106.0). While D-Lo was observing from the bench, always in stylish attire, they fixed their defense.
The latest proof came Friday night in Los Angeles, where the Warriors limited the Clippers, who this season have entered the fourth quarter with at least 100 points on nine occasions, to a mere 73 through three quarters. The Warriors took a 10-point into the final quarter but couldn’t hang on.
The defense that held through the first 36 minutes was not up to the task of containing LA stars Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell over the final 12.
The Warriors’ offense, however, betrayed them the entire game. Though Omari Spellman responded to his first start as a Warrior with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 4 of 8 from deep, his teammates were 31 of 84 (36.9 percent) overall and 4 of 31 (12.9 percent) from distance.
“They overwhelmed us,” Kerr said of the fourth quarter, when the Warriors were outscored 36-17. “They played a great quarter and got downhill. Kawhi and Lou Williams both got going. Harrell got going. We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”
Which brings us back to Russell, who was sitting on the bench, at times flanked by disabled teammates Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. D-Lo has scored at least 30 points in eight games this season, with a high of 52. The man can get buckets with the best of them.
The man can give buckets, too. With the worst of them.
Back in October, as the Warriors were wrapping up the preseason and preparing for the opener, Draymond Green, who knows a bit about defense, responded to question about D-Lo’s defensive ability with a low-key dart.
“Watching him in practice yesterday, I told him, ‘Oh you showed me you can defend. I didn’t know you could. So that’s the expectation now,’” Green said.
“It’s interesting because you just never know what’s been asked of someone. You can easily judge a situation and say, ‘Oh man, he hasn’t really defended much,’ or, ‘He’s not that good on the defensive end.’ But if he’s never been asked to defend, it’s kind of hard to make that judgment.
“Obviously, we’re going to ask him to defend. Yesterday, he was asked to defend, and he showed that he can. I told him that’ll be the expectation moving forward. Sorry, buddy, you showed it.”
Now, 40 games into the season, Draymond still is waiting to see defense at the level he believes Russell is capable of playing. The coaching staff also is searching for it. Those who evaluated Russell during his first four NBA seasons are skeptical that it will come.
Until it does, if ever it does, the Warriors don’t have much of a choice. They will have to live with D-Lo’s defense if they want his offense.
They surely need it — at least until Curry and Thompson are ready for re-entry.
One of the NBA’s biggest rivalries took a wild and unexpected turn on Christmas this year when the Warriors stunned the Houston Rockets with a 116-104 win at Chase Center.
As Steph Curry and Klay Thompson continue to rehab their respective injuries, the win was one of the biggest upsets ever on Christmas. A Dubs team led by Curry’s brother-in-law Damion Lee took down James Harden and Russell Westbrook, yet Harden had nothing but good things to say about the Splash Brothers as the Warriors stars watched the game from the bench.
“The world and the game is missing obviously Steph and Klay,” Harden said to reporters after Houston’s loss.
“Obviously the game is missing them, obviously their fans are missing them. It would have been, obviously, a great, competitive game — they beat us without them, so for us we gotta regroup.”
Harden scored 24 points — down from his 38.1 average this season — and dished 11 assists. He was a minus-18 on the day, and spoke highly of this scrappy Warriors squad.
“They play hard. They play extremely hard,” Harden said about the Warriors.
Harden also called Chase Center “beautiful” and said he could feel the excitement. Russell Westbrook, on the other hand, was much less talkative after the game.
What was expected to be a dud for the Dubs turned into a bit of a Christmas miracle on Wednesday in San Francisco. It was an unexpected chapter in this rivalry, but you never know what could happen when these two teams square off against each other.
The NBA was supposed to have its most exciting season ever, with so many extreme makeovers, HGTV should’ve been involved.
But instead of renewed interest due to parity, the Nielsen ratings have showed a steady decline.
LeBron James, the game’s biggest star, is in the NBA’s No. 1 market (because, New York, you know) and the Lakers are playing elite basketball. The Celtics are back to the land of the living, producing more brand familiarity to the common fan.
The Golden State Warriors as we know them are no more, stripped of their powers due to injury and departures. Surely that would be enough to bring fans back to their televisions in droves, because everybody has a fair chance, right?
To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s Col. Jessup from “A Few Good Men” some 20-plus years ago, “You want the Warriors on that wall, you need them on that wall!”
So much time was spent opining about how this group came together — or more specifically, how Kevin Durant joined the Warriors via free agency — and how their on-court demeanor crossed over into arrogance.
Did they separate the haves from the have-nots?
Did it ramp up expectations and turn the regular season and early July into an arms race to catch them? Sure did.
Teams weren’t allowed to spoon-feed careful messages to their fans about trying to go for it, while keeping their fingers crossed. Fans knew the difference and forced teams to bring all their chips to the table.
Chasing those Warriors was the greatest challenge and the prospect of beating them presented the greatest reward.
Does Masai Ujiri go all-in for Kawhi Leonard with the boldest move this last half of the decade if not for the Warriors? Or is it easier to stay the course and hope to catch lightning in a bottle with continuity?
The NBA’s success with the mainstream isn’t like the NFL’s, which is a league that thrives off variance in the regular season and playoffs. The NBA needs identifiable brands for fans to follow, love or loathe.
Whether it’s free agency, television fatigue, illegal streaming or other issues, things haven’t yet clicked. Teams will begin to take shape to the common fan soon enough and we’ll have a greater sense of interest — once fans identify the heroes and villains.
Whether it was Durant’s superpowers or Stephen Curry’s assassin-with-a-smile routine or even Draymond Green’s habitual line-stepping, fans knew exactly what to expect when tuning in.
In fact, it’s what they tuned in for, and now they’re missing it.
At the moment, the 4-19 Warriors are the furthest thing from terrifying.
But a year from now, things drastically could change and that has the rest of the NBA in a panic, according to NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh.
“The people I talk to around the league are really worried they are going to trade that first-round pick, the 2020 pick, because if they load up with an All-Star-type player with that pick, they are terrified,” Haberstroh said during the Warriors-Hornets telecast on NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. “Or if they land a Luka Doncic in the draft, they’re terrified. So that 2020 pick, adding to the group they have established here with [Eric] Paschall stepping in right away, man, I think every team is going to try to do a gap year.”
The Warriors are expected to have a healthy Steph Curry and Klay Thompson back next season to go along with Draymond Green, D’Angelo Russell and Kevon Looney. Paschall has burst on to the scene and looks like he could be an impact player on a title-contending team.
The Warriors also will have a taxpayer exception worth around $17 million and a taxpayer mid-level exception that they can use to sign established NBA players.
And then you throw in what is looking like a potential top-five 2020 draft pick, and wow. As Haberstroh says, the Warriors could trade that pick for an established star or they could hit the jackpot and draft an elite prospect to build around.
The other 29 teams in the NBA have good reason to be worried. The Warriors could be scary again next season.
Now, we just have to get through the next five months.
“I still remember the number when I saw that check. It was incredible,” the three-time NBA champion recently told Maverick Carter of Uninterrupted. “You try to keep it simple and you try not to overspend on nice things.
“My first purchase was my pool table. I still have that to this day. Oh yeah, still got my billiards table.”
Over the years, we haven’t heard much about “Billiards Klay.” We know he likes to read the newspaper and play chess, but pool? That’s a new one.
The five-time All-Star then made everybody laugh with a great comment about his time in college.
“I just love life experience. I love to travel. I grew up in Oregon so I love being in the outdoors. It’s not like that money made me happier. It was great to see that check, but I lived such a great life in Pullman at the time on my $1,100 a month stipend.
“That went so far in Pullman, man. I could get as much Taco Del Mar as I wanted. I could go to Target and have a field day.”
Just perfect and very on-brand.
Now, we need to find out what his biggest order ever was at Taco Del Mar. He probably will eat there when Washington State retires his jersey on Jan. 18, right?