Curry opened up in an extended Q&A session about Durant’s exit with the type of diplomatic answer one would expect from Curry. “The three years that we had were special,” Curry said via The Mercury News. “With KD, we had three straight Finals appearances. We won two of them, and we accomplished a lot as a group. Everybody talks about the amount of talent that we had on our team, but that doesn’t guarantee that you can figure it out on the court, that you can put all the pieces together to be successful. I’m really proud of what we accomplished.
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“The beauty of free agency is everybody has a decision, everybody has a choice. You want to find your happiness wherever that is. The beauty of the NBA is everybody has that decision at some point, especially guys that deserve it, like KD and other top free agents. I like to look at what we accomplished and focus on that and be extremely proud of this run that we had. Now we are going to have to recreate it in terms of what it means going forward.”
The Warriors’ meeting with Kevin Durant will include a surprise guest in addition to president and general manager Bob Myers. Stephen Curry, according to multiple league sources, is heading to New York as well.
But it could potentially be a big deal that Curry is going. Even though the Warriors have several All-Star-level championship players, Curry and Durant would be the pillars of the Warriors if Durant decides to stay. They would be the faces of the franchise and their relationship figures to be the most important. Even in 2016, Durant said the key thing he wanted to know was whether Curry wanted him on the team.
Curry making a surprise visit to Durant seems to be a major gesture to show that he still wants Durant. Of course, Curry could be just stopping by to visit his friend and not necessarily pitching Durant, who has said he doesn’t want to be recruited. But the timing of his visit certainly seems to point to Curry putting his bid in to keep Durant.
He told Durant in the Hamptons back in July 2016 that he didn’t care about whose team it was, who got the most shots or who sold the most shoes. And three years later, he still doesn’t care. That’s all a Chick-fil-A sandwich to him — just as valuable in the hands of others if it means the family eats. The Warriors have never looked more like Durant’s team, in the way the NBA landscape measures this stuff, and Curry seems to never have cared less. That’s clear in his defensive tone when talking about the perceived Warriors struggles and the panic from them being pushed to six games by the Clippers.
The enthusiasm is obvious as his eyes beamed excitedly when he talked about his performance, even though his numbers have stopped jumping off the page like his 38 points did in Game 1. The world saw Durant looking like the best player in the world. What Curry saw was a dynamic duo clicking like they should. “We feed off each other that way,” Curry said of him and Durant. “We highlight each other’s strengths. His strength is he can get a bucket any time he wants to, but we can also take some pressure off of him. But when he’s dominant like that, and then every two or three possessions I can come off a pick-and-roll and either I’m scoring or getting into the lane or somebody is getting a — WE HAD SEVEN LOBS.”
Curry is older now, his life more textured, his vision clearer, because of contacts and because of experience. So he knows the Warriors must evolve, and he must lead the way. Which means finding just as much fulfillment in sharing his Chick-fil-A as devouring it himself. “I want more shots, yeah,” Curry confessed. “But my aggressiveness is not in search of that. It’s just trying to make plays. You can tell by our body language it’s a different effect out there. KD had it going all night. The times he didn’t have the ball in his hands, we were still getting good shots. Even if it was me or Draymond or Andre or Klay. Whoever it was. That’s when we’re at our best. Look around the league, everybody is nitpicking everybody,” he continued. “It don’t matter. As long as I’m still playing basketball, it don’t matter. The last two runs with K, there’s been an amazing balance. Everybody in the locker room is highlighting each other’s strengths. When we don’t do that is when we get beat. It’s about balance.”
Golden State Warriors superstars Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are playing better together than at any other point in their three-year tenure, a fact that has become clear through the first two weeks of the NBA season. “The continuity of being together now for a while, winning back-to-back titles together, I think there’s probably a better comfort zone, comfort area between the two of them than there’s ever been,” Warriors head Steve Kerr said after the duo polished off another offensive masterpiece on Sunday night by combining for 69 points in a 120-114 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Connor Letourneau: Kevin Durant on why he and Stephen Curry have been so effective together early in the season: pic.twitter.com/y83IAXtzln
Anthony Slater: Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are both averaging 30+ points per game right now. Is that possible for an entire season? Curry: “Why not? We’ll see.” pic.twitter.com/DPBhho51rv
Durant played just fine without Curry in the postseason, averaging 27.9 points on 47.9 percent shooting in six playoff games. With Durant going only 28.3 percent from 3-point range, however, perhaps he will have easier looks with Curry’s gravity attracting defenses. “On offense, it definitely picks the pace up for us. Defensively, I think we stick to the same principles. When Steph is not out there, it’s not a lot of off-ball movement to space,” Durant said. “It’s obviously different not having him out there. But when he’s out there, he’s creating space with his movement off the ball and in the pick-and-roll.”
When Curry’s out there, Durant also has a partner for his shooting routine. Eventually, though, those joint shooting sessions could translate into Durant having a more efficient performance. “It’s more sharpening each other man. It’s never a competition,” Durant said. “It’s just about going out there and trying to get better. That’s the most important thing.”
“It’s weird not having Steph out there,” Durant said after a 109-103 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. “And Andre [Iguodala] and D-West, Jordan [Bell], so we’re missing a lot and we’re just kind of playing on the fly each possession.”
“You can’t just roll the ball out and be like, ‘Go play. Y’all are talented. Y’all will figure it out,’ ” Curry told Yahoo Sports. “For three years, we had been grinding with a certain roster, and a way of playing, and that all changed and you’ve got to adjust and K especially brings a different level of play but we had to figure out how to balance it all. We had some ups and downs. We won some games, but it wasn’t as smooth as we wanted it to be. And I think we were overthinking it too much, early on. Hit a little stumbling block, talked our way through it, figured our way out of it and we’re better for it.”
“It wasn’t like I just got to know Steph when I came here. I knew what his DNA was already, so that was a plus. I wasn’t surprised with his spirit, his energy. The way he played,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I studied him. I study all these players I played against. I kind of knew Steph because he’s one of the best in the league, so I just wanted to see how hard he works on a day-to-day basis. And once I saw that early on, I was like, ‘He’s my type of guy.’ Somebody that I enjoy being around. Somebody that I enjoy learning from and working with. I feel like we’re teaching each other a bunch of stuff about the game. Iron only sharpens iron, so I want to be around the best when it comes to getting better as a player.”
Steph Curry wants everyone to know that he’s not mad about Kevin Durant about his teammate’s shoe comments. Back in August, Kevin Durant took a swipe at Curry’s shoe sponsor, Under Armour, saying that nobody wants to wear Under Armour.
With Curry being the face of Under Armour basketball (and finally getting a decent-looking shoe), the two-time MVP initially took exception to what Durant said. But now, they’re all good. After the Warriors’ preseason game in China, Curry posted an Instagram photo with Durant. The sneaker war is on!
Indeed, by season’s end, the seesaw act had worked to the tune of 67 wins. And after Durant’s return to the lineup in early April, the two combined for 119 points on 37-of-66 shooting in two games together in their first-round series sweep of the Trail Blazers. Still, two games does not a championship run make. In fact, it takes two months. Few have learned that lesson quite like Curry. One month he was touted as the “unanimous MVP.” The next, after a disappointing loss in the Finals, “unanimous MVP” became a sardonic epithet, a cudgel against a guy who’d rushed back from injury and into his own basketball Waterloo. He knows all too well that a season of never-ending praise can be upended in days. “I know if I’m not playing well,” he says. “And I can’t say that anybody’s right in the way that they talk about my year.”
Later, with 30 seconds left in the half, Steph makes the return official when he eagerly sprints into and launches a 3-pointer with his heel on the half-court logo. Swish. Steph hunches over and duck-walks away from his creation. As one does. He’ll finish with six 3s in only three quarters of play. “I think Steph catered to the whole theme of pleasing,” Bruce Fraser, the Warriors-appointed shooting coach, would later say. “He wanted to please. He catered to the whole, took less for himself. The irony in this season so far is that we had to learn how to play with KD, had to learn how to play without him. And both of those were challenges.”
Fissures had been forming. Genial Steph was noticeably frustrated with the state of affairs, perhaps more so than he’d ever been in the Kerr era. He played poorly overall on Christmas — 15 points on 36 percent shooting — and had barely touched the ball down the stretch. In the final four minutes, Curry took as many shots as Cavs role player Richard Jefferson (one). Though it was a regular-season game, Kerr elected to sub Curry out on the last defensive possession for the taller and longer Shaun Livingston. It was an understandable move to thwart a LeBron James pick-and-roll aimed directly at Curry, but it amplified the embarrassment. Steph’s head was in his hands as Kyrie Irving hit the game winner over Thompson.
Curry’s reputation was taking a beating, and the Warriors didn’t appear substantially more assured of a title than they would’ve been with last season’s squad. The wooing of Durant wasn’t like Miami’s super-team formation, which arose out of LeBron and Dwyane Wade’s deep friendship. Curry and Durant got along just fine, but Curry simply went along with the pursuit of KD — it wasn’t something he concocted. He’d been a good soldier by accepting what was right for the franchise, by abruptly leaving his basketball camp to fly to the Hamptons. For this, his reward had been a diminished reputation, offensive marginalization and little outward, organizational praise for the sacrifice.
A few days after Christmas, Curry spoke up about the state of affairs. “I definitely want to be in more pick-and-roll situations,” he said at Golden State’s practice facility when asked whether the ball was in his hands enough this season. “Whether I’m getting shots or whether we’re manufacturing ball movement, that’s a strength of ours, regardless of how teams play us.”
On the season, he has seen 19.6 screens per game; 25 starting point guards have seen more. The team has scored only 1.09 points per play, which is 20th in the league. Hence, Curry’s public and private frustration. But since that Christmas Day loss, the story has changed. Per SportVU data, the Warriors have bumped up the screens that the reigning MVP sees to 23.4 per game, and the team’s scoring average has ballooned to 1.16 points per play, which would rank fourth best over a full season. Curry has nearly doubled his scoring average out of the pick-and-roll, from 4.9 through Christmas Day to 8.4 since.
“I look at the numbers,” Kerr said of the distribution of shots between stars. “We obviously play a little different than most teams. We’ve been last in the NBA in pick-and-roll plays three years in a row. We do a lot of stuff off the ball. So obviously with KD’s arrival, the dynamics changed a little bit. So, Steph has the ball a little less this year. So does KD. Sometimes I’ll just, if I think Steph needs the ball more, I’ll call more plays for him. But for the most part, it kind of happens organically.”
Sam Amick: On Curry front, days off are tough to come by & Warriors host OKC tomorrow, at Houston Friday. More than happy to pass this ball to Durant.. pic.twitter.com/M4gAH7rXvD
“I think we had chemistry since the beginning of the season, since training camp,” Durant said of Curry. “I’ve been watching him a long time. He’s been watching me. We know how we play, where he wants the ball and where I want the ball. It’s a matter of experience and just getting out there and playing. But when you’re familiar with someone’s game and you respect someone’s game, it makes it easy to play with them.”
“Not at all,” Durant told The Vertical. “You can ask other guys, but I feel like I’m easy to get along with. I feel like I’m easy to play with. I don’t demand much. I feel like I’ve got a high basketball IQ. I’m still adjusting and learning the system and learning what coach wants from me, but for the most part, I’m good at improvising. I’m good at filling in. I can go out there and try to get a basket every possession. Or I can go in a corner and wait for the ball to come to me and space the floor. I feel I can do different things on the court, from being a No. 1 guy to the No. 2 guy to whatever. Setting screens and fighting in the trenches, playing the dirty game, I feel I can do all of that. I think that’s what’s making it easy. I don’t feel like I’m a one-dimensional player.”
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July 18, 2019 | 3:25 am EDT Update
Barry Jackson: Next significant event for Heat could be re-engaging with Wizards if Beal rejects three year, 111 M extension he’s eligible to sign after July 26. For now, Wizards have rejected all trade overtures on Beal, a potential 2021 free agent
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s discussions to move nine-time All-Star guard Chris Paul to a new destination are parked, and an increasing expectation exists that he will start the season with the team, league sources tell ESPN.
Oklahoma City has been working with Paul and his representatives on finding a trade, but nothing is materializing so deep into summer free agency, sources said. Both sides believe there are benefits to Paul, 34, playing out the season with the Thunder. For now, there’s a belief that there could be more success exploring trade scenarios again after Dec. 15 — or even the completion of the 2019-20 season, league sources said.
For now, Oklahoma City doesn’t feel a need to surrender draft compensation to unload Paul’s contract, sources said. The Thunder want to be competitive and believe that Paul can serve as a mentor to Gilgeous-Alexander, a second-year guard who’s considered the franchise’s future playmaker.
But I stand by my initial forecast: It may not happen until after next season, but Russell will eventually be dealt by the Warriors once Klay Thompson has recovered from a torn anterior crucial ligament in his left knee — thereby pushing Russell down to third on Golden State’s backcourt depth chart.
Has your play in the BIG3 built any momentum toward an NBA return? Is getting back to the NBA even a goal of yours? Joe Johnson: Yes, I’d love to get back and play in the NBA. It’s not my ultimate goal, it wasn’t my goal getting into the BIG3. But if the opportunity presents itself, I would take upon the challenge. I would love to. But, I got a job to do, and my agent has a job to do. I’m not sure about the momentum or how it’s going, but I just focus on what I can do and what I can control.
Can you clarify for me why there aren’t any tampering charges toward Kawhi or the team he signed with? — @Jay_Since82 from Twitter League officials generally won’t open a tampering investigation until there is formal complaint by at least one team — accompanied by some worthy evidence. The Toronto Raptors have not taken such a step. Nor is there any indication that an official complaint is looming from one of the league’s other 28 teams that did not land Kawhi Leonard. It would be a significant step for the Raptors or any other aggrieved team to push for an actual probe.