Golden State Warriors’ Steve Kerr and Mike Dunleavy Jr. discuss schedule, open roster spots and Jonathan Kuminga
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Steve Kerr and Mike Dunleavy Jr. met with reporters a week before the Warriors’ training camp begins on October 2. The Warriors are determined to show that the dynasty still has plenty of gas in the tank.
Here are some key points from their responses.
Available roster spots
Throughout the summer, Dunleavy said, 40-to-50 players came through Chase Center for workouts. Among them are Dwight Howard, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Kent Bazemore. At training camp, the Warriors will face competition for two open roster spots and a two-way spot.
They may not use both roster spots, and there are no immediate positional needs on the roster — the team’s goal is to add the best player available.
“I think maybe we have already pursued and committed to that,” Dunleavy stated. “The nice thing is that I think we have good versatility and optionality throughout the roster, so there’s nothing we have to do right now.” We’re bringing in a variety of players who we believe can do a variety of things, and we’ll evaluate them in camp.
“But I don’t think we’re focused on any one thing right now, whether it’s a guard, a big, a wing, a young player, or an old player.” We’re kind of open, and I think that’s a great position to be in because it allows us to be flexible and evaluate what’s best for our team.”
Earlier Monday, the Warriors signed former first-round pick Usman Garuba to a two-way contract, comparing him to Draymond Green and Kevon Looney. He’s a versatile and tenacious defender who could see regular playing time if he can find his niche on offense.
Kuminga’s next move
Last season, the Warriors’ veterans and Kerr cited a disorganized locker room as one of the reasons for their early playoff exit. Green punching Jordan Poole in training camp revealed a significant gap between the veteran and the young player.
The Warriors’ moves to trade Poole for Chris Paul, sign Dario Saric, and bring back Gary Payton II to surround an aging core signaled a preference for experience over youth. But, in his third NBA season, all eyes will be on Kuminga, 20, to establish himself as the young, athletic infusion to an older, established team.
Kuminga had an up-and-down season and fell out of the playoff rotation, but he’ll need to grow as a defender, rebounder, and off-ball scorer (perhaps with some help from Paul at point guard) to come into his own.
“I’m very excited about JK.” He’s had a fantastic summer. “I was getting reports on him on a regular basis while I was overseas, and the coaches were all raving about him,” Kerr said. “Saying that he has worked extremely hard and understands what is expected of him.” I believe that playing with Chris Paul will be extremely beneficial to him. Chris has a way of making people’s lives easier. I expect them to spend some time on the court together, with Chris assisting in unlocking some of that potential.”
A convenient timetable?
Last year’s preseason trip to Japan to play exhibition games against the Washington Wizards threw the Warriors’ rhythm off a bit and may have contributed to the rocky start, according to Kerr. The Warriors are happy to have a traditional start to the year and should view a friendly start to the season as an opportunity to get off to a hot start.
Seven of their first nine games will be played on the road. Beginning Nov. 11, the Warriors will play the majority of their games at home, with the exception of two trips outside the Pacific Division until Jan. 12 — to Portland on Dec. 17 and Denver on Christmas.
“I never pay too much attention to the calendar because it is what it is.” “You’re going to play 41 at home and 41 on the road, and you’re going to take it one week at a time,” Kerr said. “I believe we need a good training camp.” I believe it is critical that we get off to a better start this year, not just in terms of record, but also in terms of preparation. I think it’ll be very helpful, frankly, that we’re not going overseas; that we’ll be here.”
Last season, the Warriors started 0-5 on the road and finished 11-30. Kerr cited overall team disarray and poor defense as the root causes of last year’s team’s poor road record. Still, there is a chance for a quick start. Golden State started 18-2 in their championship season in 2022, which provided a cushion for the low points later that spring as the team prepared for the playoffs.