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NBA PM: Warriors Given First Dose Of Adversity

The Warriors didn’t face much adversity during their title run. How will they respond to losing coach Steve Kerr?

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Warriors Given First Dose Of Adversity

As the saying goes, one of the most difficult things to do in professional sports is defend a championship. Pulling off a title repeat the following season is usually what separates good teams from the all-time greats.

The defending champion Golden State Warriors are looking to etch their names among the best and head into the season seeking to silence naysayers doubting their title win this past June.

The Warriors won 67 regular season games essentially establishing their place as the best team in the league wire-to-wire. But in a season filled with plenty of injuries to key cogs around the association, doubters maintain the Warriors were blessed by a stroke of luck to remain healthy for the entire campaign. In fact, the only Warriors player from last season that averaged 20 minutes per contest to miss more than five games during the campaign was center Andrew Bogut.

Most teams that achieve success at the highest level must overcome a bit of adversity. Those who seek to discredit the 2014-15 Warriors most certainly point to the fact the team managed to avoid clear signs of distress throughout the season, while other franchises were decimated.

Those with the desire to see how the team will respond to adversity this season will get their chance early as Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has taken an indefinite leave of absence in order to fully rehabilitate from two back surgeries performed this past summer.

“After the first two days of training camp, I realized I need to take a step back and focus on my rehabilitation in order to be ready for the grind of another NBA season,” Kerr said in a released statement. “As I noted last week, my summer was difficult and no fun due to the multiple back surgeries. At this point, I simply want to get healthy and back to my normal daily routine on and off the court.”

Former player Luke Walton, who has zero head coaching experience, will be entrusted to handle Kerr’s duties while he is recuperating. Walton was with the team last season and was promoted to the top assistant role when Alvin Gentry took the head coaching job with the New Orleans Pelicans.

“Our biggest concern is for his health,” Walton said according to Associated Press. “We know he’s going to get better, but on a friend level, it’s always hard to see someone you hold in high regard and care about, not able to really do what they love to do.”

There is a belief that Kerr might be back with the franchise once the regular season begins on October 27, according to an ESPN report. But for now, Walton is the unquestioned sideline general with training camps picking up steam.

“We’ll keep this ship moving in the right direction until our captain can return,” Walton said at practice.

While Kerr’s absence doesn’t appear to be a long-term experience, his departure will disrupt the Warriors’ normal flow. The best teams are able to deal with adversity and the Warriors may have gotten their first dose to overcome.

The Tristan Thompson Free Agency Saga Continues…

After a strong showing in the playoffs, it was obvious that talented forward Tristan Thompson was headed to a lucrative payday. However, free agency came and went with the money drying up around the league and Thompson was left without a deal.

Thursday was the deadline for Thompson to accept a one-year qualifying offer worth $6.8 million. The player is still a restricted free agent and the Cleveland Cavaliers can match any offer received for his services.

Cleveland reportedly offered a five-year deal worth $80 million deal while Thompson was allegedly seeking a five-year, $94 million maximum contract.

Cavaliers general manager David Griffin addressed the Thompson situation on NBA TV Thursday.

“We fully expect that tomorrow he will be here in some form or fashion,” Griffin said during a NBA TV telecast. “We’re hopeful that he wants to move forward with his teammates in the same way that we want to have Tristan here. If we can come to some agreement, then we will.”

However, Thompson did not report to camp today.

Veteran forward James Jones says the guys in the locker room won’t hold this salary dispute against Thompson once he returns to the team.

“First thing’s first, we understand that this is a business, and once the business is taken care of we can come in and work on the floor,” Jones said according to Dave McMenamin. “So until that’s resolved, he’s handling his business, and we support him 100 percent. At the same time, the guys that are here, we’re working, and we have a goal and a mission, and we’re not going to let anything stop us from focusing. We’re staying on course.

“Once you take care of the business, when all the guys are here, we’ll saddle up, we’ll huddle up and we’ll make adjustments. But for now, we’re just playing ball.”

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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