Here we are nearly in March and you’d have to admit what’s been going on with the Golden State Warriors still hasn’t quite sunk in.
Who could have imagined the recent master class in winning NBA championships would be sitting with its worst record (12-44) and reeling again on a five-game losing streak?
Then again, what should we have expected after losing Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala and seeing Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry go down with injuries? Some might say the Warriors are lucky to have even won a dozen with Eric Paschall, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson and Damion Lee sucking up the minutes.
So now with two dozen games remaining in the regular season, you wonder if it would even make sense for the Warriors to rush Thompson and Curry back into the lineup. What’s the point at this point.
Well, the Warriors provided an insight into their mindset earlier this week by saying Thompson would sit out the remainder of the season, but Curry will be back as soon as he is ready.
“Klay was expecting this,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said on Thursday. “It’s been a very frustrating year for Klay, but I think he’s almost out of the woods. He’s a couple months away from this season ending and moving towards a summer of preparing for the next season with his teammates. I think that’s a much better place for him to be emotionally.”
Thompson tore his left ACL during Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Toronto in June. And right from the start you’ll remember the Warriors saying it was unlikely he’d be able to play in 2019-20.
“This is what I expected from the beginning given the severity of the injury,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr reiterated. “And the normal timetable [for recovery], and so here we are. It’s no surprise.”
Kerr did say it’s possible Thompson might be ready to play for Team USA in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“It’s not off the table,” Kerr said. “It’s still a possibility. We haven’t really discussed it. I think the [Olympic] team meets in July, so it’s still quite a ways away. … obviously his health is the No. 1 concern, and so we’ll kind of cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Kerr has a vested interest in Thompson’s return to the Olympic team. He’s an assistant to head coach Gregg Popovich.
“I’ve really felt bad for him – Klay loves to play basketball so much. He loves this game, and it means so much to him,” Kerr said. “In some ways he’s kind of been lost without it. He’s been so anxious to be out there on the floor helping his teammates. He sees all these young guys, he sees our struggles, he wants to be out there, but it’s been a long haul.”
Meanwhile, Kerr said he expects Curry to be back sometime in March. He broke his left hand on Oct. 30. And his teammates are looking forward to it.
“If he didn’t come back, everybody would say, ‘That’s bullshit,’ he’s making $40 million,'” Draymond Green told ESPN on Wednesday. “It’s never enough. And it will never be right. Anthony Davis shut it down a few years ago (in New Orleans), he was healthy and everybody was like, ‘He’s wrong. What is he doing?’ Then you get a guy come back, and (it’s like), ‘Why is he coming back? They’re not making the playoffs.’”
Unlike their point of view about Thompson, the Warriors have always contended Curry would be back as soon as he’s medically ready.
“He’s perfectly healthy,” Kerr said Wednesday. “He’s in the prime of his career. If the point is because he might get hurt, then what’s the point of ever playing anything? People can get hurt any day. I guess the argument would be, ‘Well, we’re not going to the playoffs.’ So are we not trying to entertain our fans?
“We’re selling tickets to all these people who love basketball, and Steph Curry is one of the most amazing, graceful, exciting basketball players on earth. And if he were healthy and we didn’t present him to our fans and say, ‘Here you go. Here’s your gift for staying with us for this whole season,’ what would that say about us? That we don’t care about our fans?
“So to me it’s never been a question. As soon as he’s ready, he’s coming back. Our fans deserve it. We need it as a team to springboard into next year, and it’s the right thing to do.”
Kerr also wants Curry to get used to playing with the team’s younger players – particularly the recently acquired Andrew Wiggins – as the franchise prepares to move into the future.
“It’s (not playing) never even been a conversation,” Kerr said. “Steph doesn’t have to talk us into anything. We know he wants to play because he loves basketball, and we want him to play because we need him for the continuity to build that momentum for next year and then our fans are dying to see him.”