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.
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.
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.
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.
The Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson (11) reacts to hitting a 3-point shot against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)
Get the latest score and analysis during the Warriors’ rematch Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle at 7:30 p.m. from our Diamond Leung as well as other reporters.
If viewing on a mobile device, click here.
The NBA unveiled the special jerseys to be worn by the ten teams playing on Christmas Day. They are short-sleeved and feature an enlarged team logo on the front.
Yes, the Warriors’ are yellow.
Despite the bad reviews from last year, which no doubt promoted the switch to the white sleeved jerseys this year, adidas put the Warriors back in yellow. But they won’t be alone.
“They’re cool,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s nice to be playing on Christmas Day to showcase them off. Like I’ve said, as long as we shoot well and get the win, they look good.”
The Clippers, Lakers, Bulls, Heat, Thunder, Knicks, Nets, Rockets and Spurs will also join the sleeved-jersey gang.
Here are looks at the rest of them, plus the commercial featuring Stephen Curry (I like Brooklyn’s the most, hands down.)
Warriors forward Harrison Barnes will not play Saturday’s game against visiting Sacramento, a team source confirmed.
Clearly, his left toe inflammation still isn’t healed enough for action. Barnes hasn’t played since an Oct. 7 preseason game against the Kings. He hasn’t practiced with the team since either.
No timetable has been set for Barnes return. He’s listed as day-to-day. Coach Mark Jackson announced on Tuesday he would miss the first two games and be re-evaluated. Jackson said the goal is for the injury to completely heal so the issue doesn’t linger.
The team hasn’t revealed the details of Barnes’ injury — such as what’s causing the inflammation, how it happened, how its being treated or how long Barnes could be out — which is usually up to the player.
The Warriors’ bench could certainly use Barnes, who Jackson said will be the sixth man when he’s healthy. Golden State’s second unit has struggled to score the first two games.
You could see it in their eyes. You could hear in their voice, as they talked through clinched teeth and bit their tongue.
The Warriors don’t like the Clippers. And they were mad at themselves for not bringing their best against bullies from down south, losing 126-115 at Staples Center.
“We had no business in this game,” coach Mark Jackson said. “But we fought. We battled. We hung in there. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
The Warriors turned the ball over 25 times, something they knew was a no-no against the transition savvy Clippers. Their miscues, including a career-high 11 by Curry, helped the Clippers rack up 22 fast-break points.
The Warriors were beat down the glass, had a tough time staying attached to the Clippers’ shooters and had zero answer for Chris Paul. He torched the Warriors for 42 points, 15 assists and six steals in 37 minutes.
Yet, with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Golden State was down just eight. Victory was close enough to smell, and not grabbing it left a bitter taste.
“Certain teams kind of have that edge about them, for whatever reason,” Andre Iguodala said. “They’re kind of one of those teams. Even playing in Denver last year, it was the same chippiness. So we kind of have to be smart about it. Neither team has really done anything for it to really be a rivalry. Somebody has to establish something. So we’ve got to stay focused on the path ahead.”
More on Thursday’s game …
After all the preseason hype, all the talk of high expectations, many presumed the Warriors to come out and struggled. Especially after the Lakers thumped the much-ballyhooed Clippers on opening night, a let down wouldn’t have been surprising.
But that didn’t come close to happening Wednesday night.
The Warriors, instead, made an emphatic statement, beating the Lakers125-94 at Oracle on Wednesday. Was the statement that Golden State is for real? Or was it that the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers are really bad?
Perhaps it’s too early to answer that definitively. But it certainly looked different.
These Warriors smelled blood and pounced. They went for the jugular of a vulnerable team — playing without Steve Nash on the second night of a back-to-back — like you’d expect from a legit contender.
Maybe it was the energy of the season opener. Or maybe they fed off the passion in the arena whenever the Lakers come to town. Or maybe this is just who they are.
“We understand we’re going to have to have a lot of energy at home,” Andre Iguodala said. “I’ve been in a situation where I’ve won a lot of home games. (Last year with Denver, we) had the best home record in the NBA. Still, you’ve got to take care of business on the road. Energy gets you wins at home, but its how you go on the road, compete against the top-tier teams.”
The Warriors will have a chance to do that tonight against the host Los Angeles Clippers.
Before then, here’s the season debut of the game rewind …
No, I’m not in China. But I did watch the Warriors’ 100-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Beijing on Tuesday. As far as the Warriors are concerned, it’s already fair to call the trip to China can be considered a success if only for reason: it got David Lee going.
For the first time this preseason, Lee looked like the All-Star he is. Part of it was the matador defense of Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol. But most of it was the liveliness of Lee. He was simply quicker and more explosive than his Lakers front-court counterparts, and he had various elements of his game was clicking.
That’s a vital step for the Warriors to round into form as the regular season news. They have hardly looked like the team expected to be a force in the Western Conference. But you could see some signs that’s starting to happen.
Lee had 31 points on 12 of 16 shooting in the first of two games against the Lakers in China. Lee made his first seven shots – four layups, two jumpers and a turn-around out of the post – en route to 22 first-half points.