Tag: Golden State Warriors

The hate the Golden State Warriors received for signing DeMarcus Cousins

By Marc J. Spears                 July 26, 2018

OAKLAND, California — The NBA’s wild offseason has included DeMarcus Cousins going to the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard forcing his way off the San Antonio Spurs, DeMar DeRozan being traded by his beloved Toronto Raptors and Carmelo Anthony soon becoming a free agent. No summer news was hotter, however, than LeBron James’ decision to depart the four-time reigning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers to join the rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers.

James went from being an NBA Finals rival to a Pacific Division rival whom the reigning NBA champion Warriors will play at least four times next season. Warriors forward Kevin Durant told The Undefeated that he “loved” his fellow superstar’s decision to start over in Los Angeles.

“I thought it was the perfect decision, the perfect move,” Durant said during an Alaska Airlines-sponsored event at Oakland International Airport. “He did everything you’re supposed to do in Cleveland, the perfect next step for him. He’s kind of breaking down the barriers of what an NBA superstar is supposed to be. You feel like you’re supposed to just play it out in one spot. I think he did a good job of giving you different chapters. And it’s going to make his book more interesting when it’s done.”

The Warriors defeated James and the Cavaliers in three of the last four Finals. Now James is joining a Lakers team that includes fellow newcomers Rajon Rondo, ex-Warriors center JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley along with returners Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The Lakers have not been to the playoffs since 2013.

Durant recently visited with James in Los Angeles, where the discussion seemed to be more about life than basketball.

“Just life. Excited about what lies ahead for him, for us as men more so than basketball players. Just breaking bread and showing love,” Durant said.

It will certainly be a major challenge for James and the Lakers to win an NBA title — or the Pacific Division, for that matter — because of the rich-getting-richer Warriors. The Warriors added a fifth All-Star to their team with the surprise free-agent signing of Cousins.

Durant is not surprised at the hate coming the Warriors’ way for landing Cousins.

“It was expected. Nobody likes a great thing. Greatness is rare, it’s different, and people don’t like different, so I get it. But I think for DeMarcus I liked his approach, our approach to it, coming in, wanting it just to be about basketball, once you look at it that way, it works out perfectly,” Durant said.

COURTESY OF ALASKA AIRLINES

Kevin Durant arrived in Las Vegas on July 25 for USA Basketball’s minicamp in an Alaska Airlines plane with two AAU boys’ and two AAU girls’ basketball teams from the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. A Durant decal with his arms outstretched was on the side of the Boeing 737-900ER jet.

The Warriors earned the most surprising headline of free agency when Cousins decided to accept a one-year, $5.3 million midlevel contract. The 6-foot-10, 265-pounder averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists for the New Orleans Pelicans last season. The four-time NBA All-Star, who suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon on Jan. 26, told The Undefeated that he had no significant offers on the table during the first day of free agency on July 1. He called Warriors general manager Bob Myers on July 2 to tell him he would be willing to sign for the midlevel exception. Durant said he was shocked when Myers called to make him aware of the possibility of Cousins coming.

“I was like, ‘No way,’ ” Durant said. “Then I went to the movies throughout the day and I got like three or four calls in the movies I had to ignore, and when I got out it said it was finalized, and I FaceTimed DeMarcus and called Bob and was so excited because I knew how important this time was for DeMarcus to find a team, find somebody that was gonna help him kind of get through this injury first then play his best basketball, so I think it’s gonna be perfect for both spots, for him and for us.”

The Warriors have five 2018 NBA All-Stars in Cousins, Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Because of Cousins’ recovery, it is uncertain when he will play for the Warriors next season, and it could take time for him to jell with the team. Durant said adding Cousins gives the Warriors a “different team” in a positive way offensively.

“It gives us somebody that can score in the low post, that can demand a double-team and you can’t switch on him,” Durant said. “That gives us a different look. I feel like a lot of teams felt like they could switch their smalls onto our bigs, but you can’t do that with DeMarcus.

“But we’re not used to playing that way either. We’re playing with a scoring big [man] down low. So it’s going to be an adjustment, but I’m looking forward to it. Should be fun, should be a new injection of energy for us.”

So how do the Warriors make it work offensively with Cousins?

“Throw him the ball when he’s got a mismatch, throw me the ball when I’ve got a mismatch. If Klay’s open for a 3, pass it. Steph in the pick-and-roll, do your thing. Draymond play defense. … We’ll figure it out,” Durant said.

Durant re-signed with the Warriors for a two-year deal paying $61.5 million, with the second year a player option. The $5 million in savings from Durant’s deal offsets the $5.3 million midlevel tax that Golden State elected to use to sign Cousins. The nine-time All-Star averaged 26.4 points last season and earned his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP award.

Durant described his short-term contract with the Warriors as “the right thing to do for me.”

This wild NBA offseason included the Spurs trading disgruntled 2014 Finals MVP Leonard and guard Danny Green to the Raptors for DeRozan, center Jakob Poeltl and a first-round draft pick. DeRozan publicly expressed his displeasure to ESPN’s Chris Haynes about the Raptors trading him without a verbal heads-up.

Durant was not surprised by the trade.

“Nothing in the NBA shocks me when it comes to business,” Durant said. “I’m excited that Kawhi was able to do what he wanted to do. I know DeMar was a little upset about the move, but I think in the long run it’s going to be great for basketball for both those guys. Kawhi getting the opportunity to control his own team from the small forward position, wanting to do the stuff that he wants to do in his last few years in San Antonio, he gets to showcase that in Toronto. And I think DeMar is going to work great with Coach Pop [Gregg Popovich] and just bring out the best in him. So it worked out well for both sides, I thought.”

Durant arrived to Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon via an Alaska Airlines plane with two AAU boys’ basketball teams and two AAU girls’ basketball teams from the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. Durant, an Alaska Airlines spokesman, surprised the L.A. kids by taking a flight with them to Oakland International Airport, where he surprised the Bay Area kids during the layover. A Durant decal with his arms outstretched was on the side of the Boeing 737-900ER jet.

The four AAU teams sported Durant’s new signature KD 11 shoe and his Nike gear while they were headed to Las Vegas to play in the Bigfoot Hoops Las Vegas Classic. Durant also played in the tournament during his youth. Durant will be taking part in USA Basketball’s minicamp on Thursday and Friday in Las Vegas, although Warriors teammates Curry and Green are not expected to attend.

Durant hoped the experience would “spark something and inspire” the teenage basketball players. His advice was to play the game for the love of it and if you are dedicated, focused and honest with yourself, the accolades will come.

“It’s surreal with everything that is going on. It’s something I can’t even script. To have all this stuff here that impacts so many up-and-coming basketball players is inspiring to me. It’s pretty cool that I get to do this. I never would take it for granted,” Durant said.

Eliminating the NBA salary cap could do away with super teams like the Warriors

By Brando Simeo Starkey           July 19, 2018                      

Let each team pay one player any amount and we’ll see where the big-money players go

Some NBA fans insist that the league suffers from an untenable problem: The Golden State Warriors dominate to such an extent that they already know how next season will end — with the Warriors lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy, with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and now DeMarcus Cousins dousing each other with champagne in a locker room. These fans shudder at the specter of watching that once more. They blame the players, particularly Durant, for supposedly taking the easy way out, and they cry for the league to intervene and obliterate Bay Area supremacy.

This argument is overblown. We shouldn’t reduce the health of the NBA to how many teams can reasonably expect to win a ring any season. The league hasn’t matched this level of excitement in decades, perhaps ever. With the wide-open game, constant influx of young talent, never-ending dramas off the court, the NBA finds itself in a healthy state. If sports leagues were a futures market, wise money would invest heavily in the NBA.

Yet, if the NBA did wish to more equitably distribute talent across the 30 franchises, an obvious solution awaits: Each team should be allowed to pay one player any amount of money outside the salary cap, and this amount would not count toward luxury tax considerations. This solution would need to be honed, but as I see things now, salary-cap rules and regulations can remain although they might need tweaking. If a team wanted to pay, say, LeBron James what he was truly worth per year, then that team could do so, although it could only pay James an out-of-salary-cap deal.

Could the Warriors re-sign Thompson to another deal if the Orlando Magic will give home $50 million a year? This is a surefire strategy to break up the Warriors and dramatically reduce the likelihood that another super team would form in the future.

If superteams are a problem — and let’s describe a superteam as a team with multiple top-25 players — then this solution carries obvious appeal. Would Durant really choose to play for the Warriors for about $25 million a year when the New York Knicks would give him $65 million? Could the Warriors re-sign Thompson to another deal if the Orlando Magic will give him $50 million a year? This is a surefire strategy to break up the Warriors and dramatically reduce the likelihood that another superteam would form in the future.

Fans speak about the NBA as though they would prefer that the best 30 or so players were evenly distributed across the league. Now, this would be hard to achieve, because some young players on rookie deals might vault into the top echelons while others under contract might develop into pre-eminent talents before their deals expire. For instance, Jayson Tatum could become a top-30 player in a couple of years. And one reason the Warriors were able to sign Durant was that Curry, despite being one of the best five players in the league, was severely underpaid.

Yet, a simple fact remains: Many of the league’s best players want to play with each other, such as recently reported regarding soon-to-be free agents Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler. To play together, under this proposal, each player would have to sacrifice millions of dollars each year to make that dream a reality. Would they be willing to sacrifice that much? Each megastar would likely search for an out-of-cap deal, and a team could have only one such player.

To Play together, under this proposal, each player would have to sacrifice millions of dollar each year to make that dream a reality. Would they be willing to sacrifice that much? Each megastar would likely search for an out-of-cap deal, and a team could have  only one such player.

Like any change, though, one should expect unforeseen consequences should the NBA allow teams to sign one player to a deal outside of the salary cap. Under this new format, for example, some teams might offer megadeals to young players who haven’t earned the money.

Take the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins. In June 2017, FiveThirtyEight’s Kyle Wagner correctly called him one of the league’s worst defenders: “When Wiggins contests a shot, opponents have a 56.1 effective field goal percentage; when they are unguarded, they have a 56.4 eFG percentage. Fundamentally, getting a shot up against Andrew Wiggins is the same as getting an open shot.” Yet, last November, the Timberwolves signed him to a five-year deal worth nearly $150 million. Simply put, teams sometimes misjudge talent, especially players they drafted, and overpay.

No solution to this superteam “problem” will be free from unintended consequences, ones that could ultimately worsen the league. If the owners want to please fans who oppose the construction of superteams, however, the powers that be might have to open their wallets wider and support unusual measures.