David Lee, Stephen Curry Shine as Warriors Beat Los Angeles Lakers in China

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.

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Harrison Barnes Gets First Crack as Mark Jackson Experiments with Starting Lineups

ONTARIO, Calif. — Mark Jackson said he’s not into playing mind games. If he knew who his starters were for the season, he would just say it. He doesn’t, he assured. He’s still trying to figure out which lineup gives his Warriors the best chance to win.

It is with that context he revealed guard Klay Thompson, who has started 122 consecutive games with Golden State (including playoffs), will come off the bench for tonight’s preseason opener.

Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala will start in the backcourt, with Harrison Barnes, David Lee and center Andrew Bogut will start against the Los Angeles Lakers at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Is this insight into Jackson’s first choice, or is this his I’m-not-going-to-show-my-cards-early lineup? Is he anointing Barnes or motivating Thompson? Has Iguodala an automatic starter?

“Truthfully,” Jackson said, “there is zero to read into it.”

The Warriors, who have all five starters from last season, found themselves with a good problem to have by acquiring Iguodala — giving them six players capable of starting.

Curry, Lee and Bogut are etched in stone as long as they’re healthy, per Jackson. That leaves three wing players and two starting spots available. Jackson said he will use the preseason to experiment, figure out which five is the best fit. The odd man out will serve as the sixth man.

He said Thompson will get a chance to start this preseason. He also suggested you may see Iguodala come off the bench at some point in the exhibition.

“Don’t read anything into it,” Jackson reiterated. “It’s just the way we’re starting tonight. You could go either way. Klay and Iguodala (starting) or Klay and Barnes. … All those guys are going to play a lot. This is just the way I’m starting tonight.”

Here is a break down of each scenario:

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Draymond Green Keeping the Warriors on Their Toes

David Lee broke it down simply. Lee told second-year forward Draymond Green he wasn’t doing his job if Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights and even Lee himself wasn’t mad at him every few days.

Green’s response? Duh.

“That was already my plan anyway,” Green said, flashing his bright, devious smile. “So I didn’t need him to tell me.”

If Green has something to say about it, the Warriors won’t have a problem with complacency. Whatever success they have won’t soften them, nor will accolades cause them to

Because as soon as they get to practice, they will have to deal with Green. He’s loud. He’s tough. He’s versatile in his skill. Most important, he relishes the role of providing the checks and balances on the court.

“I don’t care who you are or what you do, I’m going to go at you,” he said after Friday’s practice. “I may not be the one guarding you but I’m going to say something. You can always do more. I feel like the sky is the limit for this team so there is always more that can be done. You may have had 30 yesterday. But you come into practice today and I’m getting after you. If it’s D-Lee or whoever it is, I’mma get at you.”

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Warriors Taking Dwight Howard Matters in their Own Hands??

According to ESPN, the Warriors are aggressively shopping centers Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins, and forward Richard Jefferson. Why? Golden State wants to prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from hatin’ on their Dwight Howard pursuit.

The Warriors are $11 million over the projected salary cap (at about $69.9 million including Kent Bazemore), not including the cap holds. That means in order to get Howard, the Warriors would have to agree to a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Reports are the Lakers aren’t interested in working a sign-and-trade and would rather let Howard walk and save the luxury tax bill. And they certainly aren’t keen on strengthening a division rival. And whatever hopes the Warriors have of convincing the Lakers to deal, many suspect, would involve giving up young stars Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes.

But the Warriors don’t want to give up either. According to a source, their pitch to Dwight Howard on Monday — in which I am told Mark Jackson shined — included Howard playing with Curry AND Thompson AND Barnes. Those prospects intrigued Howard, as Marc Stein reported. So much so, the Warriors are now actively trying to create enough salary cap space so they don’t need to do a sign-and-trade with the Lakers.

It’s a monumental task, to be sure. The projected salary cap is $58.5 million, which means the Warriors would need to cut their salary down to $38 million or less to have the space needed to pay Howard the max contract he commands.

Cutting that much money would require the Warriors moving their three major expiring contracts: Bogut ($14 million), Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million). Dumping all three without taking any money back would chop $34 million off the Warriors’ cap figure, getting them down to about $35 million. (NOTE: They would have to renounce the rights to their free agents, including Jarrett Jack, to remove their capholds).

The difficult part, finding teams to take on those big contracts getting anything (or much) in return.

The Warriors would need to find teams with enough cap space to absorb their expiring contracts. That’s probably easiest to do with Bogut because in addition to being an expiring contract he is a legit center when healthy. Teams like Portland, Atlanta and Cleveland are in need of a good, defensive center.

Then the Warriors could use a future draft pick to pair with Jefferson to sweeten his salary dump. To sweeten Biedrins’ dump, the Warriors could send a team $3 million in cash considerations, trimming Biedrins’ salary to $6 million.

Another route the Warriors can go is to raise the stakes and adding Lee’s contract. Pairing Lee with one or more of the expirings would allow the Warriors to dump the contracts while being able to take a contract back. For example, Bogut + Lee + Biedrins is $37 million in salary. Golden State could take back up to $14 million in contracts and still would have accomplished the task.

But what if the Warriors trade Bogut and Howard decides to stay with Los Angeles or go to Houston? That wouldn’t happen, per one source. The Warriors are paving the way to be able to get under the cap if Howard says yes (which he hasn’t yet).

At this stage, anyway, teams can only agree to deals. No trades can be completed until the league-wide moratorium ends. So if Howard chooses elsewhere, GSW can cancel the deals. They may even know Howard’s answer before the moratorium ends anyway, if reports are true that Howard will decide by Friday.


Dwight Howard is a Long Shot for Warriors, but Worth A Shot

It only makes sense the Warriors get mentioned in the third annual Dwight Howard saga. They had cameos in the first two and they were awful. Now, Golden State is a successful, attractive destination in the NBA. And even though he doesn’t need to these days, co-owner Joe Lacob still loves the pursuit of the big fish.

So the fact that reports surfaced about Howard being interested in the Warriors is expected, if not redundant.

But is this even possible? Sure. In the same way it was possible for the Warriors to win a title. Except there were a few MAJOR obstacles in the way, namely San Antonio, Memphis and Miami. Golden State’s acquisition of Howard too has major obstacles. The first one being it’s only late May so the likelihood is Howard has NO IDEA what he wants yet.

Here are some other obstacles:

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David Lee Named All-NBA; Stephen Curry is Not

All-Star forward David Lee was named third-team All-NBA, the league announced Thursday.

Lee is the first Warrior to make All-NBA since Latrell Sprewell was first-team in 1993-94. Back in February, Lee became the first Warriors’ All-Star since Sprewell in 1997.

Lee was the only player in the NBA to average at least 18 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. He’s the fifth Warrior to post those numbers in a single season. The other four: Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond, Jerry Lucas and Neil Johnston. Led led the NBA with 31 games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, the most since Thurmond in 1971-72. Golden State was 25-6 in those games.

Despite a monster second-half of the season, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry was not selected.

MARK JACKSON: “Happy for and proud of David Lee. It is well-deserved. As far as Steph, the great thing is that the world now knows, even if the voters don’t.”

Here are the selections:

First Team

Forward           LeBron James, Miami                       595

Forward           Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City         555

Center              Tim Duncan, San Antonio                392

Guard               Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers                 521

Guard               Chris Paul, L.A. Clipper                   537

Second Team

Forward          Carmelo Anthony, New York            397

Forward          Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers               132

Center             Marc Gasol, Memphis (38)                295

Guard              Tony Parker, San Antonio (16)         273

Guard              Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City 306

Third Team

Forward          David Lee, Golden State                      79

Forward          Paul George, Indiana                          73

Center             Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers             203

Guard              Dwyane Wade, Miami                        145

Guard              James Harden, Houston                    253

Curry totaled 72 points, the most of any guard not selected (next was Ty Lawson with 8 votes). But Curry was well behind Wade, who had the fewest points of any guard selected.


Warriors David Lee’s Going to Leave Live Tweeting to Kobe Bryant

Warriors forward David Lee, out for the season with a torn right hip flexor, has attending every practice. He’s participates in every meeting. He is filling his teammates eat with whatever insight he can offer.

But Lee said should he be inactive for Game 2, you don’t have to worth about him live Tweeting.

“Can you imagine that?” Lee said with a laugh. “Nah. I’ve got too many holes in my game to be on Twitter breaking down other people’s games.”

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s in-game Tweets became national news. Out for the year due to a torn Achilles, Bryant couldn’t be with the team for Game 1 at San Antonio. As he explained, flying would increase the swelling in his injured foot. So Bryant did some live coaching on Twitter, offering critique and strategy to his followers.

He has since said he would stop live Tweeting because it had become a distraction.

NBA legend Jerry West, in a radio interview with ESPN, doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

WEST: “That’s Kobe. I have nothing but respect for him. The social media, I just don’t think it’s good. Therms enough pressure on everyone now. I don’t understand that at all. I never have understood it. … It’s just something I wouldn’t do.”