Stephen Curry scores 24 w/ 10 rebounds (Oct 30 12:00 ET )
Stephen Curry double-doubled on Wednesday, but it was with 24 points and 10 rebounds. He also had five assists, six steals, two 3-pointers and four turnovers on 7-of-17 shooting.
The only thing Steve Kerr lost in his coaching debut was his voice. Stephen Curry had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Klay Thompson scored 19 points and the undermanned Golden State Warriors made Kerr a winner in his first game, shaking off a slow start to roll past the Sacramento Kings 95-77 on Wednesday night in the regular-season opener for both teams. ''I got nothing left.'' The Warriors overcame the first hurdle of Kerr's tenure - besides his wavering voice, that is - with a patchwork lineup that did just enough against their rebuilding Northern California rivals. Golden State played without power forward David Lee (strained left hamstring) and reserve Brandon Rush (lower back spasms).
Not sure if you’ve heard, but with three days left to go before the two sides can agree on a contract extension, the San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard aren’t seeing eye to eye on terms ( no pun intended ) of the potential deal! The same disconnect, weirdly, is also in place in Cleveland , where the Cavs and Tristan Thompson are attempting to get things together. Also, hey, listen – I know this is going to sound weird, but Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors are also having the same sort of difficulties. Jimmy Butler and the Bulls? Still workin’ on it. Ricky Rubio and the Timberwolves? Attempting to try to place a dollar value on one of the weirder and more wonderful NBA players out there. Iman Shumpert and the Knicks? They have three days to figure out if he’s going to be a millstone or a cornerstone. Reggie Jackson and the Thunder? Both sides are counting dimes and taking their time. Tobias Harris? Enes Kanter? Kemba Walker? If you’re just catching up to the NBA after a lovely summer spent skipping stones and writin’ poems, let’s catch up. Players that entered the league in the 2011-12 season have until midnight Oct. 31 to agree on contract extensions with their incumbent teams. If an agreement cannot be reached, the players in question will head into the summer of 2015 as a restricted free agent – which means their current team can match any offer a competing team would officially send a player’s way. This was the case with Utah last summer, as they matched a deal that Charlotte offered Gordon Hayward at a ( currently ) wild four-years and nearly $63 million. If suitors are scared off by a move like Utah’s, refusing to bother negotiating with a restricted free agent they’d never get, a player could be caught in restricted free agency limbo. Such was the case for Detroit’s Greg Monroe and Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe a few months ago. Monroe decided to end the charade and play for the “Qualifying Offer,” a below-market value one-year deal (in Monroe’s case, nearly $5.5 million this season) that comes with trade restrictions this season (he basically has a no-trade clause, should he choose to utilize it) and the ability to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Suns eventually relented with Bledsoe, and signed him to a five-year, $70 million deal . It’s a juicy, not-all-that-complicated setup that creates intrigue and genuinely allows NBA teams to properly use the market to their advantage – something that was missing during the first batch of years that the league re-introduced restricted free agency, which led to the 2011 lockout. Teams would overpay without letting the players coming off of rookie deals sweat a bit, and the results were disastrous for fans. One of the many problems with that lockout was the way NBA owners and players waited until autumn to start getting serious about proposals and negotiation points, which led to the cancellation of games and a rushed, not-all-that-great NBA season. Alongside a rushed, not-all-that-great collective bargaining agreement. NBA teams and the players listed above had all of the 2014 summer to try and come up with contract extensions, and while several players did come to terms with their teams, too many are still left in the lurch. Neither the teams nor the players are at fault here, but the NBA’s season tips off for six teams on Tuesday, and the rest of the league shows up to work on Wednesday night. Again, why is it that the NBA is forcing teams and especially its players to make massive, career-altering decisions during a work week? Both teams and players are making calculated but still risky decisions worked around salary cap worries, luxury tax fears, television revenue hopes, and all manner of actual basketball-related vicissitudes. To place a deadline during the actual regular season is so pointless, and so wrong. Just ask Minnesota Timberwolves fans, who watched as their franchise player in Kevin Love forced a trade away from the team that will likely miss the playoffs for the 11th straight season this year. Due to the lockout, Love and the Wolves had to negotiate while the 2011-12 season was rolling along, and he signed a four-year, non-max extension with a player option after three years, one that immediately alienated Love from the team’s former general manager and current owner. Had the NBA put an earlier (albeit, truncated) offseason deadline in place, midseason emotions may not have ran so high, and the Wolves may have actually given Kevin the maximum contract he deserved. Players and teams shouldn’t be putting off these sorts of extension talks until September and October, but if the NBA instituted, say, a Sept. 21 deadline (in honor of Artis Gilmore, Bill Murray, and Bryce Drew’s birthdays), we can avoid the sort of scene that sees Taj Gibson having to agree to a life-changing deal minutes after playing an actual regular season game that counts . We’re not crying for these teams, which are handling things correctly, or these players that are set to make millions. The NBA’s offseason should already be extended (why is the NBA draft held mere days after the NBA Finals end?) as it is, and most of these teams (especially Golden State, with Stephen Curry’s contract) and signees turn out happy in the end. Still, there’s no reason to plop this deadline down in the midst of the NBA’s first week. It’s not about messing with early-season NBA games that we’ll have forgotten by January. It’s about forcing teams and players to take a more sober approach to negotiations earlier in the NBA’s offseason. Or, more specifically, in the actual offseason. You’re hip to moving things around, Adam Silver. Hop on this one, too. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
The Arizona desert turned up a UFO crash in 1953, purple alien eggs just last year and Lord knows what else in the 60 years between. It’s only natural the Phoenix Suns add another wrinkle to their own weird science experiment, turning a two-headed snake into a three-headed monster in the backcourt. In a strange summer, general manager Ryan McDonough agreed to a four-year, $27 million contract with Sacramento Kings dynamo Isaiah Thomas on the day the NBA’s moratorium lifted, seemingly signaling the end of fellow restricted free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe’s fun in the Arizona sun. But the NBA Executive of the Year runner-up doubled down, inking Mini LeBron to a five-year, $70 million deal some two months later. With All-NBA Third Team selection Goran Dragic also in the Phoenix mix, McDonough effectively created the league’s most dangerous polycephalous point guard. So, the Suns will roll the dice with a troika of All-Star-caliber guards, identified flying object Gerald Green and a mysterious frontcourt in an attempt to recreate last year’s bizarre 48-34 record, which tied the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors for the best season by a team that didn't make the playoffs since the NBA switched to the 16-team playoff format in 1984. Under NBA Coach of the Year runner-up (noticing a trend here) Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix played at a top-10 pace in his first season at the helm, and the Suns will run again, even faster if possible. Only, they’ll have to do so without Channing Frye, whose floor-stretching capacity from the power forward position translated into 8.3 additional points per 100 possessions in his 28.2 minutes a night on the floor, according to Basketball-Reference.com . Out of the Frye pan and into the fire will be Markieff Morris, whose own breakout 2013-14 season (2,153 minutes, 13.8 points, six rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, 56.4 True Shooting percentage, 18.4 Player Efficiency Rating) earned him a four-year, $52 million deal to split unevenly with his twin brother, Marcus Morris. Sharpshooting veteran free agent forward Anthony Tolliver (41.3 percent on a career-high 247 3-point tries for Charlotte last year) and young center projects Miles Plumlee and Alex Len round out a bigs mess. Add a pair of potential mid-first-round steals in T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis, another Dragic named Zoran and a post- “super extreme” DUI suspension P.J. Tucker, and it should be another supernatural season for the 2013-14 League Pass legends. Last year taught us this much about the Suns: They are here. 2013-14 season in 140 characters or less: What the Ish is this? The weirdest collection of awesome under the Suns. Did the summer help at all? The Suns let their most productive big walk , spent the money Frye got in Orlando on a third point guard , handed one contract to a pair of twins , signed their best player’s brother and drafted one half of Bojan and Bogdan Bogdanovic — all as their starting small forward spent a no expenses paid three-day vacation in county jail . So … just your typical NBA offseason? Seriously, that’s freaky, even by their standards. Go-to offseason acquisition: Had Thomas not stood just 69 inches tall, he would have commanded far more than $27 million over four years in free agency. After all, the Sactown sparkplug was one of six players to average 20 points and six assists while posting a PER above 20 this past season. The others: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. Those dudes aren’t so bad. Thomas comes with another caveat, though, since Sacramento’s fast-paced offense and non-existent defense over the past decade has produced plenty of padded stats that haven’t translated elsewhere. In the past 10 years, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic combined for one 20-point-per-game season upon leaving the Kings. At the very least, Thomas allows Hornacek to keep some combo of Bledsoe, Dragic and Thomas on the floor for the majority of the game, strumming that double-necked point-guard guitar all night long. The fact that Thomas’ per-minute averages have remained steady as both a starter and reserve in his three-year career is an encouraging sign that the Suns will be able to keep making the same sweet music they did last season. Glaring weakness: The Suns don’t quite have a black hole in the middle, but it’s an awful dark mass in the space-time continuum. Plumlee and Len are expected to receive the bulk of those minutes, and that duo (mostly Plumlee, due to the multiple injuries that scuttled Len's rookie season) anchored the NBA’s fourth-worst efficiency differential at the position last season, according to HoopsStats.com (minus-3.8). Plumlee’s minutes plunged throughout 2013-14 as Hornacek got more comfortable playing Markieff Morris and the since-departed Frye in smaller, more offensively potent lineups. As a result, though, Phoenix allowed 42.2 points in the paint per game , also the league’s fourth-worst group. Not even highly regarded defensive assistant coach Mike Longabardi could help the Suns rise above the middle of the pack in points allowed per possession. Plumlee is still their best bet to clog the middle on defense, even if he does the same on offense. Contributor with something to prove: Following his client’s second knee surgery in three years, Bledsoe's agent spent the offseason demanding a max contract for a player who has started all of 78 NBA games. McDonough, who reportedly offered four years and $48 million, entered a summer-long staring contest with Rich Paul, and the two sides met closer to Bledsoe's demands. To say the 24-year-old has something to prove is an understatement. For chunks of last season, Bledsoe replicated what so many projected for Chris Paul's former backup. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound brick of muscle averaged 17.7 points (57.8 TS%), 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds while generally tormenting opposing backcourts alongside Dragic in 43 games. That's encouraging for a fourth-year point guard on his rookie contract; now it's expected from an eight-figure-salaried franchise player. Potential breakout stud: Double ankle surgeries stunted Year 1 of The Alex Len Project, presenting a built-in excuse for the No. 5 overall pick’s PER (7.3), true shooting percentage (46.9) and statistical averages over 42 games (two points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 8.6 minutes per game). Now, double finger fractures — on the same right pinkie, mind you — offer another easy excuse for the 7-foot-1 Ukrainian to start slow out of the gate. Yet Len made huge strides from his freshman to sophomore seasons at Maryland, and the 21-year-old has the potential to take a similar step forward after one year under Hornacek and Longabardi. He added the customary 15 pounds of muscle, and then collected six points, six boards and a pair of blocks before breaking his finger 25 minutes into Summer League. The re-broken finger is a setback for a player in desperate need of preseason practice, but he’ll still start the regular season healthy, and the minutes will be there for him to demonstrate his improvement, especially if he develops a mid-range jumper. Best-case scenario: It won’t be easy for Dragic to repeat his breakout All-NBA season, Green to shoot 3’s at a 40 percent clip again and Tolliver to replace Frye’s 2,312 minutes, but some combo of Bledsoe’s health, the addition of Thomas and the improvements of the Morris twins, Plumlee and/or Len should help the Suns recreate the magic that made them the NBA darlings of 2013-14. Even then, they’ll still be navigating a crowded Western Conference playoff picture that may also include Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans — all for the right to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers or San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Them’s the breaks for a franchise on the rise. If everything falls apart: Even if the science experiment takes a tu
Los Angeles Clippers wing Matt Barnes has had a really, really bad preseason. As noted by Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times , Barnes is just 3-of-31 (9.7 percent) from the field and 1-of-18 (5.6 percent) from beyond the arc through five preseason appearances totaling 114 minutes. It could just be a slump, but Barnes will be looking to reverse his play as the team sets about challenging for a championship this season. The events of Tuesday night's exhibition against the Golden State Warriors suggest that Barnes is in an extended stretch of bad luck rather than an all-out collapse. His line of 1-of-7 shooting in seven minutes of play seems pretty terrible, but the really embarrassing moment of the night came just a few minutes into the game. After a made jumper by Klay Thompson, Barnes set up to throw one of his trademark baseball-style inbounds passes up the court. Except the ball didn't make it more than a few feet before colliding with the underside of the backboard and bouncing right to Stephen Curry for a very simple three-pointer. Check out the GIF (via Reddit ): This play obviously didn't go very well for Barnes, but it's also the kind of freak mistake that he can only control so much. When things go wrong, they tend to go wrong all at once. At least Barnes can start to think hey may have hit rock bottom. There's nowhere to go but up. Unless his next attempt at a pass somehow goes through the wrong basket for two points. The he might want to think about hiring a spiritual advisor. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric