Kevin Durant Out for Season with Knee Injury?

kevin-durant-knee-injuryKevin Durant hyperextended his left knee in the Golden State Warriors’ 112-108 loss to the Washington Wizards. He’s undergone an MRI, with results expected later today. But fears around the Warriors organization are that it could be a serious knee injury that’ll sideline Durant for the rest of the regular seasion, and possibly the playoffs.

Here’s what The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports on the matter:

The Golden State Warriors are bracing for the possibility that All-Star forward Kevin Durant could be lost for the rest of the regular season – or perhaps longer – with a left knee injury, league sources told The Vertical.

Durant underwent an MRI late Tuesday night to survey the knee damage, and team officials and members of Durant’s inner circle were expressing fear early Wednesday morning that the severity of Durant’s injury could preclude a return to the Warriors lineup before the start of the Western Conference playoffs in six weeks, league sources told The Vertical.

Some close to Durant feared the damage could sideline him even longer, league sources said.

Impact on Golden State Warriors Betting

Golden State currently has the NBA’s best record at 50-10, and they’re widely considered favorites to win this year’s NBA title.

As a testament to this, our 2017 NBA futures have consistently had the Warriors with the best odds of winning the championship, with the Cleveland Cavaliers a distant second.

This being said, you might want to bet on Cavaliers’ futures, or even the San Antonio Spurs or Houston Rockets, before NBA futures reflect Durant’s potential long-term injury.

He leads the team in scoring with 25.3 points, and averages 8.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Durant is also shooting a career-high 53.7% from the field.

How Durant’s Knee Injury Happened

Durant exited last night’s game 93 seconds into the first quarter. The injury happened on a Washington possession under the basket, when Wizards’ center Marcin Gortat pushed Warriors’ center Zaza Pachulia to the side, and Pachulia stumbled into Durant’s left leg.

The latter quickly grabbed his left knee, then hobbled around. Durant would try to stay in the game, but Golden State was forced to call a timeout a few possessions later, allowing him to limp towards the team’s locker room.

It was a bad night all around for the Warriors since Washington led by 40-26 when Durant left the contest. He failed to score a point, ending a streak of 562 consecutive regular-season games (653 games overall) with at least 10 points.

Durant’s Homecoming Was Spoiled

kevin-durant-vs-washingtonDurant is a Washington D.C. native, and this was his first game in his hometown since signing with the Warriors. The Wizards had hoped to sign him as a free agent in the offseason.

This was also Durant’s first contest against Scott Brooks, his former Oklahoma City coach who signed with the Warriors this year.

“I have a lot of respect for him and think he’s a great player. He’s happy where he’s at. We had a good run together. I’m glad he’s happy, I’m glad he’s successful, but he’s always going to be successful. He’s a worker; he competes,” Brooks said of his former player.

“I got nothing but positive things to say about him, not one bad thing. He’s a winner. I’ve said it for years and I’ve meant it and I still mean it. The guy is a winner more off the court, and he handles himself with class and dignity and respect for the game and his coaches and teammates. You want all your players to be a pro like him.”

Durant said that he used to get too pumped up about playing in front of family and friends in the D.C. area. But he’s now able to treat it “like a normal game.”

He didn’t expect boos during his return, but was booed heavily during Golden State’s pregame introduction. In contrast, teammate Stephen Curry received cheers.

Durant said that during his first few years in the league, he put too much pressure on himself when playing at Washington “because I wanted to play well at home.”

Matt Barnes will Sign with Golden State

matt-barnes-kingsESPN reports that the Warriors will sign forward Matt Barnes to add support in the wake of Durant’s injury. Barnes was waived by Sacramento to create roster space after they traded for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, and Tyreke Evans.

The 36 year old played for Golden State from 2006-08 and is very excited about the prospect, posting a picture of himself on Instagram with the caption: “Next to the birth of my children this is the happiest day of my life!! Coming back to where it all started!”

He also told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears that he feels like he’s coming back to something he helped start.

“It’s a dream come true!” Barnes said. “I feel like I helped start something in ’07, and now I’m coming back to help finish it.”

The only downside for the Warriors is that they’ll have to give up on their plans to sign Jose Calderon. Barnes has been signed to a rest-of-the-season contract, and their roster now has 15 full-time players.

Barnes appeared in 53 games for the Kings this year, averaging 7.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per contest. He’s guaranteed $6.3 million next season, but Sacramento GM Vlade Divac still chose to waive him due to “culture” and roster-space reasons. Barnes was arrested in December following a Manhattan nightclub incident.

Another reason for the move is that Sacramento is now in full-on rebuild mode after trading DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. Rather than be part of more losing with the Kings, Barnes now has a chance to win a championship with Golden State.

Golden State Warriors Betting: Team “not Pushing” for Bulls’ Record

steve-kerr-warriorsUp until this month, the Golden State Warriors were cruising right along in their pursuit of breaking the ’96 Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 mark. Unfortunately, they’ve hit a snag recently, losing two out of their last three games, including last night’s 124-117 overtime loss to the lowly Timberwolves. So are the 69-9 Warriors stressing out over the fact that they must go 4-0 against the playoff-bound Grizzlies and Spurs to break the record?

According to recent comments by head coach Steve Kerr, it’s not even their main focus. Let’s discuss what Kerr said below along with how this may impact Golden State betting as they face both Memphis and San Antonio twice.

Kerr: “We’re not really pushing for this”

Much hype has been built around the Warriors and their pursuit of the Bulls’ best-ever NBA record. And up until April, it would seem that Golden State was focused on breaking this record considering how close they are to it. However, Kerr’s comments suggest that his first-and-foremost goal is to prepare for the playoffs. Here’s a look at what he told USA Today:

“We’re not really pushing for this. All we’ve said is, ‘Yeah, it’d be nice to get. We’d like to get it.’ But if I were pushing for it, I probably wouldn’t be resting (backup point guard) Shaun Livingston and (center Andrew) Bogut, and I’d be playing our starters more. We’re just playing it out. I don’t understand if people are going to say that we’re pushing for this. I don’t think that’s the right word to use. We’d like to get it, but we’re still resting people and trying to get us set up for the playoffs.”

How will this impact Golden State from a Betting Standpoint?

shaun-livingston-warriorsThe final four games on Golden State’s schedule aren’t particularly friendly. They play the Spurs tomorrow night at home and play them again in San Antonio on April 10. They also travel to Memphis on April 9, then play them at home on the 13th.

The Spurs are definitely the big roadblock here since they’re 65-12, have beaten the Warriors once and are 39-0 at home. We don’t have our lines for either game set yet, but you can guarantee that it’ll be pretty tight in both Spurs games. However, given what Kerr said, you have to at least considering laying your money on San Antonio for the home game. This won’t be the same Warriors team that blazed through the first five months of the season with a 68-7 record. That’s not to say they can’t win one or both games, but they face a much steeper climb without two rotational players.

This brings us to Memphis, which struggled badly in March due to injuries. Obviously this isn’t the Spurs, but they still represent a tricky matchup because they’re 42-36 and desperately trying to hold off the Portland Trail Blazers for the Western Conference’s fifth seed. The Grizzlies are a team that Golden State can beat twice, however, they also play good team defense and were able to take two games from the Warriors in the 2015 Western Conference semifinals.

Kerr on Scottie Pippen’s Comments

Scottie PippenOn a side note, Hall-of-Fame forward Scottie Pippen made headlines earlier this week for saying that the ’96 Chicago team would sweep Golden State. This is of course debatable, especially when you consider that the Warriors lost two games to the 64-18 Seattle Supersonics in the Finals. But Kerr largely stayed out of the debate when addressed about what Pippen said:

“(What Pippen said) doesn’t bother me. Every player out there who is connected to that team is going to be asked that question, and my response is always the same. The rules are so different, and the game is so different. We take 30 threes a game, or more, but the defensive rules are totally different in terms of illegal defense.

“With the old illegal defense rules, we would’ve had a hard time guarding the post. But now we can flood the strong side in a pseudo-zone. Back then you could hand-check, now you can’t hand-check. It’s hard to make a comparison if you’re really looking at it objectively, so I don’t even bother.”

Kerr, along with Pippen, was a key member of the record-breaking Chicago team that year. So he would know just as well as anybody about how the matchup would play out. But for now, it doesn’t look like he cares about the specifics and is mainly worried about getting his team ready to defend their championship. Assuming they can get Bogut and Livingston back on the court – and keep everybody else healthy – back-to-back titles are within reach.

Golden State Warriors Betting: Hot Start attributed to Steve Kerr’s Coaching

golden-state-steve-kerrWhile the Golden State Warriors were expected to have a good team coming into the 2014-15 NBA season, few expected a sizzling 16-2 start – one and a half games better than any squad in the league right now. So what’s the difference between the team that finished 51-31 last season, and the one that’s on pace for a 73-9 record? To hear those inside of the Warriors organization speak, it definitely seems to be Steve Kerr’s coaching coupled with the fact that Mark Jackson no longer heads the team.

Many were puzzled when Golden State fired Jackson since he not only won 50+ games, but was also popular among the players. Furthermore, they wondered what the Warriors were doing replacing him with Kerr, who’d never coached anywhere before. Looking at recent comments by co-owner Joe Lacob and Warriors forward Harrison Barnes, it is definitely the coaching change.

joe-lacob-warriorsLacob speaking at the Western Association of Venture Capitalists/National Venture Capital Association

“Right now, (Kerr) looks great. I think he will be great. And he did the one big thing that I wanted more than anything else from Mark Jackson he just wouldn’t do, in all honesty, which is hire the very best.

Carte blanche. Take my wallet. Do whatever it is to get the best assistants there are in the world. Period. End of story. Don’t want to hear it. And (Jackson’s) answer….was, ‘Well, I have the best staff.’ No you don’t. And so with Steve, very, very different.

You can’t have a staff underneath you that isn’t that good. And if you’re going to get better, you’ve got to have really good assistants. You’ve got to have people that can be there to replace you. We all know this from all of our companies. It’s…Management 101. A lot of people on the outside couldn’t understand it when we (fired Jackson).

Part of it was that he couldn’t get along with anybody else in the organization,” Lacob said. “And look, he did a great job, and I’ll always compliment him in many respects, but you can’t have 200 people in the organization not like you.”

mark-jackson-stephen-curry-three-point-contestUnlike most owners, Lacob certainly doesn’t mince words in his assessment of Jackson, who refused to change up his coaching staff. And it seems like Lacob has a point, given that assistants Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erman were black eyes on last year’s team. Scalabrine was demoted to D-League coaching duties over a “difference in philosophies” with Jackson. As for Erman, he was fired after the organization discovered that he had been taping numerous conversations around the office and locker room.

Beyond the company that Jackson kept, another nail in the coffin might have been his inability to get the most out of the team’s talent. More specifically, he wasn’t getting the most points out of one of the NBA’s more-dangerous offensive teams. Former lottery pick Harrison Barnes more or less explained this when speaking about why he’s doing so much better in 2014:

harrison-barnes-warriors“It’s hard when you get the ball in an iso situation and you have a set defense in front of you,” Barnes said. “Very few players in the league can do that. You look at the best – Durant, Melo, those guys – look at what percentage they shoot. And that’s the best of the best, so you can imagine where I’m at. I’m like at 15, 20 percent on isos. To get me with the ball moving, getting me in different spots, playing off other people, that’s more of a strength for me right now. Going straight isos, that wasn’t a strength for me.”

Barnes is shooting 51.0% from the field and 40.5% from the 3-point line – both markedly better than last year, when he hit just 39.9% of his shots. Whether this is the refuted proof we need to show Kerr is the dominant coach over Jackson remains to be seen. However, the current results definitely speak for them self.

Golden State Warriors Betting: Was Klay Thompson’s Max Contract a Good Idea?

klay-thompson-max-contractOn the surface, it appears that Klay Thompson is worth every penny of the 4-year, $70 million max contract that he just signed with the Golden State Warriors. After all, the 6’7″ shooting guard is just 24, he’s leading the league with 29.7 PPG, and he’s nailing almost 54% of his shots from the field. So if there’s somebody who deserves a max contract it’s this guy, right?

Purely in terms of scoring and shooting the basketball, yes, Thompson’s contract is totally justified. But from a winning perspective, this move has to be questioned by anybody who looks closely at the matter.

First off, consider that noted champions like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade had already won NBA Championships by the time that they signed a major contract. Sure many free agents also get max deals without truly proving they’re winners. However, the teams that sign/re-sign them out of desperation are often relegated to mediocrity for years in the aftermath.

Now consider Thompson, who’s being paid like the centerpiece of a championship caliber team that includes Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala. So far in Thompson’s young career, the team has missed the playoffs once (2012), lost to the Spurs in the conference semifinals (2013), and lost to the LA Clippers in the first round. And while they won 51 games last year, legacies are made through the playoffs, where Golden State had a regression.

Thompson’s playoff legacy right now is of a guy whose game fades when the competition level is increased. For evidence of this, look at how his numbers dipped against the Clippers:

2013-14 Regular Season – 44% shooting, 41.7% three-point, 18.4 PPG
2014 Playoffs (7 Games) – 40.8% shooting, 36.4% three-point, 16.4 PPG

klay-thompson-max-contract-1Assuming the Warriors make the playoffs again this season, one could argue that Thompson’s scoring and shooting will pick up. But the flipside is that there’s no guarantee his game will rise to the level of NBA postseason competition.

What’s more is that Thompson doesn’t turn in big numbers on the defensive end either. Last season he averaged 0.9 SPG and 0.5 BPG through 81 contests. These aren’t exactly stats that would impress Bryant, Wade, Michael Jordan, Jerry West or any other championship shooting guard who cared just as much on the other end of the floor.

Let’s face it…the Warriors overpaid for a one-dimensional shooter who’s won one playoff series in his career. Granted he’s a great shooter who will get better over the years. Furthermore, somebody was going to pay this guy the big bucks – definitely Minnesota if they could landed him through the failed Kevin Love trade.

But now Thompson becomes one more huge contract on a team that has too many of them. And while he may provide much more than the oft-injured Andrew Bogut and his $13 million contract, we don’t see Thompson becoming the type of max-contract player who carries his club deep into the playoffs.