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Warriors, Durant open the season at home against Spurs

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) glances down while playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, June 13, 2016. Cleveland defeated Golden State 112-97. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) glances down while playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, June 13, 2016. Cleveland defeated Golden State 112-97. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

The Warriors will open their season Oct. 25, at home against the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA announced Thursday.

Other highlights of the 2016-17 schedule:

The Warriors play Christmas Day at Cleveland, then host the Cavs on MLK Day.

Kevin Durant won’t have to return to Oklahoma City until Feb. 11, the 54th game of the season. He goes again March 20.

Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut will make their first appearance at Oracle Arena as members of the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 9.

Luke Walton brings his Los Angeles Lakers to town Nov. 23, though his first game against Steve Kerr will come three weeks earlier in L.A.

The L.A. Clippers — with Marreese Speights having joined Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan — don’t come to Oracle until Jan 28.

The Warriors’ longest trip is five games (twice). It’s the first time since 2007-08 that the Warriors have not had a trip longer than five games.

There are two homestands of five games.

There are 17 instances of back-to-back games, down from a league-high 20 last season.

The Warriors will close the season with six of their last seven games at home.

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Kevin Durant Watch: How Warriors’ top competitors are looking

Golden State Warriors' Andre Iguodala (9) guards Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant (35) in the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 26, 2016. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

#DurantWatch has officially begun and the early leaders appear to be the Warriors and Miami, though Kevin Durant can’t take meetings until Friday.

Still, the race is on to pry the former MVP away from the only NBA franchise he’s known in an effort to form some sort of superteam.

The Warriors’ chances were expertly broke down by our own Tim Kawakami this morning, which you can read here.

How about the other teams, you ask? Let’s check out what people are saying about each squad’s chances.

Miami Heat

Pat Riley looks to be working his usual magic in the Durant sweepstakes, called one of the two likeliest landing pads along with the Warriors. Obviously, Miami fans are going wild over the possibility — even ESPN’s Dan Le Batard.

Oklahoma City Thunder

OKC faithful are clinging to the thought that the Thunder’s near-defeat of Golden State will entice Durant. His meetings in New York, however, make it clear he’s considering all options.

Boston Celtics

Though they aren’t among the top two reported contenders, the Celtics appear to be the most optimistic outsiders. Boston can offer the youth movement, cap space and overall tradition to lure Durant.

L.A. Clippers

They were late arrivals to the rumor mill, but the Clippers may be the likeliest to work out a sign-and-trade with Oklahoma City, considering they could send home native son Blake Griffin. As is often noted, L.A. is also an ideal destination for anyone looking to boost their promotional income.

San Antonio Spurs

After pulling off a free-agent coup by signing LaMarcus Aldridge last summer, San Antonio might be back in business by trying to reel in Durant. “Hey, it’s just a short seven-hour drive back to Oklahoma!”

New York Knicks

Not among his six meetings but still on his radar, reportedly, the Knicks are a dark horse for Durant. But since New York is no longer the epicenter of hoops, that may be a reach, even with Carmelo Anthony in his ear and Derrick Rose now on the roster.

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Struggling Harrison Barnes listens to Steve Kerr tell real story behind hitting game-winning shot in the NBA Finals

Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes, left, makes guard Stephen Curry laugh on the bench during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. The Warriors won 136-97. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes, left, makes guard Stephen Curry laugh on the bench during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. The Warriors won 136-97. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

OAKLAND — With Warriors forward Harrison Barnes in a shooting slump heading into Game 7 of the NBA Finals, it was story time with coach Steve Kerr.

Kerr told Barnes of how before he made the winning shot in Game 6 of the Finals that clinched the championship for the Chicago Bulls in 1997, he was struggling himself having missed six straight 3-pointers before the game.

“Me and Coach Kerr were talking about him in ’97 saying he couldn’t throw a shot into the ocean,” Barnes said. “He couldn’t make anything. He felt like he was playing terrible. He only knocked down three threes in the fourth quarter, one of them with five seconds to go. It was like, ‘Oh wow, you’ve been balling all series!'”

Barnes said he would put the past aside after he was 2-for-14 from the field in Game 5 and 0-for-8 in a Game 6 in which he was held scoreless.

“It’s like, whatever you need to do for the next 24 hours to get your mind right for 48 minutes. Just be yourself for 48 minutes. Nothing spectacular. Just be you.”

Asked if it would be easy to flush those two performances mentally, Barnes smiled and said, ” For sure. Because the only way I can go is up from there.”

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Story of how Warriors’ Steve Kerr was transformed by father’s death wins prestigious award

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Bay Area News Group sportswriter Jon Wilner was announced Friday as the winner for Best Feature Story of 2015 in judging by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

Wilner’s entry told the story of Warriors coach Steve Kerr and the life lessons provided by his father before his murder in 1984. Kerr had spoken sparingly about the tragedy in the 30 years that ensued.

Runners-up included entries from the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, and USA Today.

It is the second year in a row that the Bay Area News Group has won the Features category — widely considered the toughest to win. No news organization had produced back-to-back winners since the Washington Post in 2005-06. Daniel Brown was the 2015 winner for his story on the friendship between a young cancer patient and San Francisco Giants pitcher Sergio Romo.

Mark Conley served as editor on both stories. Conley also served as lead editor on the MLB Preview magazine that won top honors from APSE as Best Special Section.

Courtney Cronin, who recently joined the Bay Area News Group from the Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.), won first place in APSE for Long Video for her series on the recruitment of Mississippi high school star Malik Newman. Cronin also took third place in beat writing.

In another contest, Best of the West, Brown won first place Features (non-Sports) for his story on Taylor Swift and her secret following of macho men.

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Steve Kerr’s April Fools joke on Warriors’ Draymond Green fell flat

Golden State Warriors new head coach Steve Kerr smiles during a press conference at the Warriors' practice facility in downtown Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.  Kerr is currently a TNT commentator, was the general manager of the Phoenix Suns, and was a guard with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. He is one of two players to win two championships with two different teams. in consecutive seasons. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Golden State Warriors new head coach Steve Kerr smiles during a press conference at the Warriors’ practice facility in downtown Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLAND — Unlike many of his jokes, Steve Kerr’s April Fools prank at shootaround didn’t have the desired effect.

Kerr attempted to trick All-Star forward Draymond Green into thinking he would be rested for Friday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

Green, who prides himself on playing when he can and has stated his intention to play for the rest of the season, apparently didn’t take it very well.

“I didn’t get much of a laugh, and Draymond glared at me,” Kerr said. “I told him I was going to give him the night off because he needed to rest. He just glared at me, and I said ‘April Fools,’ and nobody laughed.

“They usually go over better than that, but just crickets,” Kerr added of his jokes. “Nothing.”

Center Festus Ezeli said of Green, “He got really upset.”

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Warriors’ Stephen Curry could be first unanimous MVP, but Steve Kerr wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t get every vote

The Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) celebrates at the end of game as they win 95-87 against Toronto Raptors in the fourth quarter of their preseason NBA game at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) celebrates at the end of game as they win 95-87 against Toronto Raptors in the fourth quarter of their preseason NBA game at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

DALLAS – Stephen Curry might be the heavy favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award, but could he become the first NBA player to be a unanimous selection and receive every first-place vote?

Warriors coach Steve Kerr wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t happen.

“I would not be shocked if he were not unanimous because there’s always some clever voter out there. It’s just like the Baseball Hall of Fame,” Kerr said Friday. “There’s nobody that’s ever been unanimous because there’s always some writer out there who decides, ‘Oh, I don’t want to vote Babe Ruth. That would be sacrilegious to actually have somebody be unanimous. Let’s make Babe Ruth wait 10 years.’ There’s going to be somebody like that out there.”

Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 and LeBron James in 2013 were each one vote shy of becoming a unanimous selection.

Curry received 100 of 130 first-place votes last season from sports writers and broadcasters from the United States and Canada. One of the votes come from fan voting on NBA.com.

This season, Curry leads the league in scoring at 30.5 points per game and had made a record 330 3-pointers and counting.

“I’d be shocked if he didn’t win, the season he’s had, the season we’ve had,” Kerr said of Curry. “There are always several great candidates, but it’d be tough to imagine Steph not winning it.”

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Warriors’ Steve Kerr explains why he compared Damian Lillard to Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr congratulates Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) after their win against the Oklahoma City Thunder after their game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, March 3, 2016. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 121-106. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr congratulates Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) after their win against the Oklahoma City Thunder after their game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, March 3, 2016. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 121-106. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLAND – Warriors coach Steve Kerr explained why he said Portland guard Damian Lillard looked like Stephen Curry on the court while scoring a career-high 51 points in the Trail Blazers’ win last month.

“After the game that night, he had hit like five shots from about 40 feet it felt like, and he was pulling up so deep behind the line, so I was being complimentary,” Kerr said Friday. “When Steph makes 40-footers and somebody else makes it, it just reminded me of Steph, so I didn’t mean anything by it. He’s a great player. He should have been an All-Star. I voted for him, for the record.”

Lillard, who did not make this year’s team, said he appreciated the vote and that he liked Kerr as the coach of the 2015 Western Conference All-Star team.

“But when he said I looked like Steph Curry, I didn’t like that either,” Lillard told The Oregonian. “It might seem like a compliment coming from him and how he meant it. But I didn’t like that either. If anybody had a good game against us, I don’t think coach (Terry) Stotts would go and say, ‘He looked like Damian Lillard.’ So it depends on how you want to look at it.”

Lillard said before the game that he respects Curry and indicated he understood players were going to be compared, but that he’s not going out there impersonating anyone.

“I’m my own person,” Lillard said.

Said Kerr: “We’re all very proud of him here in the Bay Area, one of Oakland’s own, and hopefully we can do a little better job on him tonight.”