OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Steve Kerr understands the NBA’s business side, free agency and everything it takes to build a perennial winner with a star-studded roster like the one he coaches every day.
He also knows the Warriors’ dominance won’t last forever. Kerr addressed that thought with his group on the eve of training camp. Sure, a fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals would be an incredible feat. Yet Kerr won’t make that a regular topic of discussion.
Instead, just enjoy the moment and cherish the process while this special team is still together.
“Last year I took the approach we’re going stare right in the eyes of the beast and I kind of shared my experience as a player and ‘Hey, I know this is going to be hard, we all know this is going to be hard,'” Kerr said. “And it was, but I don’t want that to be our theme this year. You can only go with that for so long before it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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“What we’re trying to do is embrace the idea here we are in this moment in time and time and space where, man, we’ve got a pretty good thing going. Let’s enjoy every day, let’s enjoy the process. You never know how long anything’s going to last.”
And that especially rings true as Golden State prepares for its final season at Oracle Arena before a move across the bay into San Francisco’s new Chase Center, set to open next August.
With LeBron James in Southern California with the Lakers, the Warriors will have four regular-season matchups with the former Cavs star after facing him in the past four NBA Finals. That includes a Christmas night game at Oracle.
“I don’t think it’ll feel any different. Still the same polarizing player and figure in basketball, probably the biggest face in basketball, and probably in sports,” said Kevin Durant, one of the Warriors with an unsettled contract situation after this season. “But to play against him in the Staples Center, I think that’s going to be pretty fun because that crowd is always amazing and it’s always stars on the sidelines.”
Here are some things to know about the Warriors as they chase a three-peat:
Curry played in only 51 regular-season games during the latest title run because of injuries.
The two-time MVP hurt his left knee March 23 just as he had come back from a six-game absence with a right ankle injury. Curry also missed 11 games in December with a sprained right ankle.
He missed the first round of the playoffs then returned for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Pelicans.
Curry is pleased with his productive offseason, taking things up a notch in his training without overdoing it.
“Trying to ramp that up a little bit more, but with a perspective around not burning myself out over the summer in terms of I definitely had a knee, had an ankle situation last year that needed time to recover, and I wanted to really try to pace myself over the summer,” he said. “But it’s probably one of the best summers I’ve had in terms of my prep work going into a year, so I’m excited about what that’ll mean on the court.”
DeMarcus Cousins can’t wait to join what would be a starting lineup featuring five All-Stars. He’s out to return as strong as ever — with a chip on his shoulder to prove people wrong.
“The haters. That’s all I need,” he said. “I feed off of it. I love it.”
There’s no timeline for when that might be, however, as the big man recovers from surgery on his torn left Achilles tendon that prematurely ended his season in New Orleans last January.
He signed a one-year contract with the Warriors after averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 48 games last season before getting hurt.
“I’m stubborn as hell. I thought I knew that before, but I’m really starting to realize it now,” Cousins said. “My drive has only increased. I’m seriously like a mad man right now. I think you guys will see a new DeMarcus on the floor.”
CHERISH THIS TIME
The Warriors are determined to block out noise from anyone other than who they work with day after day to keep this level of excellence.
Sure, they get everybody’s best at home and on the road — but that’s been the case for years.
“Because our expectations for ourselves are so high that I don’t really feel expectations from anyone else other than who is in this every day — our coaching staff, our front office, our players, everyone who works in this organization who is part of that grind every day,” Draymond Green said. “I don’t feel expectations from anyone else.”
Kerr, for one, will relish watching this group for at least one last hurrah together.
“What’s happening right now is going to be really tough to replicate for anybody,” Kerr said. “This is the history of professional sports. You have the proverbial window, however you want to put it. We have an incredible opportunity that’s just not always going to be here. We want to take full advantage not only from a success standpoint but from an enjoyment standpoint.”
Gone are veteran big men JaVale McGee, David West and Zaza Pachulia.
Kerr’s rotation will feature more playing time for second-year pro Jordan Bell, much-improved Kevon Looney and others.
Given the younger group, Kerr has adjusted practice routines so the players with less experience arrive an hour earlier to work on skills and concepts ahead of the veterans.
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