OAKLAND — This summer has been mostly quiet on the western front as far as the Warriors are concerned.
Through a complete overhaul of the coaching staff and with trade rumors swirling deep into the offseason, Golden State’s core players stayed tight-lipped.
Finally, at the Warriors annual media day Monday, all were available and had to face the litany of questions reporters had been waiting months to ask.
The hot topic Monday was the transition from Mark Jackson to newly appointed head coach Steve Kerr, how he’s prepared for the season and what basketball will look like under his regime.
David Lee made it very clear that the decision to oust Jackson had nothing to do with what the players wanted, and that even Stephen Curry couldn’t keep the inevitable from happening:
“That was something between the front office and coaching staff. We all know what guy’s opinion has the most weight on this team and he rallied publicly for coach to stay and the next day after exit meetings he was gone.”
Senior Splash Brother Curry — who was strongly in favor of keeping Jackson — shied away from questions about his former coach but said that Kerr’s preparation and initiative in making relationships were more than impressive:
“That’s one thing he really did well this summer, preparing for training camp and trying to get as much face time as possible with each player or at least talking to them. One getting to know him and two setting the tone for what he expects.”
Harrison Barnes, coming off a sophomore slump and looking to get his game back, said he was shocked by how involved Kerr was right out of the gate:
“I had a lot of interaction with him. The first week he got here he was working guys out on the court himself. That was different having a head coach do personal workouts. Since then I’ve just been talking to him about his philosophies, roles on the team, how he’s adjusting to the Bay Area, all that type of stuff.”
Kerr has definitely made the effort, a sentiment that echoed throughout the roster. Every guy on the team has had some sort of contact and interaction with Kerr. Andrew Bogut was pleasantly surprised that Kerr took a 14-hour flight to Australia just to spend a weekend getting to know him.
It’s not just Kerr’s personal initiative that has the team excited. Kerr has promised a faster game with an increased ball movement and play-making from everyone on the floor. This has everyone chomping at the bit to get training camp and preseason underway to see how things pans out.
But after a summer of intense trade rumors, the team is relieved that the roster didn’t experience a makeover. And at the center of all the rumors was Lee.
The Kevin Love circus seemed to have fans and media divided on what the best move was, and if Lee should stay or go. But all the talk and speculation didn’t take its toll on Lee, who remained cool headed and realistic:
“Kevin Love is a great player and I’ll be the first one to tell you that and I think he has respect for me as a player. This is a business and you have teams trying to improve … it was either going to happen or not and if I get a phone call and they say I’m moving to Minnesota then I go buy a jacket.”
Many Warriors mentioned last season’s NBA champion San Antonio Spurs as a model for what teams need to strive to be, not just in style of play but in the way the team has stuck together. That continued familiarity is something that resonates with swingman Andre Iguodala:
“They’ve built something together, whereas you see a lot of teams if something doesn’t work for two or three years they switch it up. There’s always turnover and its hard to build chemistry like that.”
So the most important thing moving forward? Iguodala says simply buying in:
“That’s the number one thing for guys with a new coach coming in is you really have to buy into the system and believe its going to work. Because if you don’t then its going to cause conflict.”
Warriors training camp tips off Tuesday, with their first preseason games Oct. 7 and 9 against the Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.