NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Kerr gets jump on getting to know his players — Steve Kerr has been only been in his new role as coach of the Golden State Warriors a few weeks, but that hasn’t stopped him from getting to know his players. He recently took a trip to Melbourne, Austrailia, to visit center Andrew Bogut and spoke with second-year forward Harrison Barnes and his agent in the Miami area, writes
New Warriors coach Steve Kerr went out of his way to meet with his players in person. To get to center Andrew Bogut, he flew to Melbourne.
“It showed a lot of respect to come here and see me,” Bogut told The Daily Telegraph on Monday.
“He had some good things to say about the direction of the team and what he wants to do. I’m really excited about Steve.
“The question is that he hasn’t coached before but the way he spoke to me when he was here it seemed like he knew what he was doing.”
Kerr also recently traveled to the Miami area to visit with Harrison Barnes and his agent.
“Steve felt that it would be a great thing for him to do to meet every single player — go to them, not have them come to him — and spend time with them, get to know ‘em, tell ‘em about what his plans were and how they fit in, and also see how badly they wanted to be a part of it as well,” Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob told KGO-TV on Sunday.
“I think the reception has been fantastic, and I think that over time — this is a process — that they’ll get to know him and understand the system he’s bringing in and what we’re going to do going forward. And I think by training camp, we’ll have a group of guys that are all on the same page.”
No. 2: Pelicans’ Gordon on the mend — Over the last few seasons, a myriad of injuries have kept New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon from fully realizing his potential in the Big Easy. Last season alone, Gordon played in just 64 games (which, in his defense, was his highest total in five seasons). But according to Scott Agness of VigilantSports.com, Gordon says he’s feeling better and expects to be fully healthy for training camp:
Eric Gordon has spent his offseason rehabbing after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on April 16 – exactly two months ago today. Although he’s not yet back out on the floor, he’s comfortable where he’s at with rehab and strengthening the knee.
“The knee is doing well,” Gordon told VigilantSports.com. “I’ve been running, moving around very well now. There’s no rush but I mean I’m good now.”
The surgery was to his left, healthier knee. It was a cleanup operation, and very minor, he said. The Pelican guard had the same procedure before on his right knee, which has been more troubling to him throughout his career.
“I think overcompensation happened probably to this left knee,” he said, with his left hand rubbing his knee. “It just needed a very minor cleanup. I’m fine now.”
Gordon on his role with the Pelicans: “Well, it’s different,” he said. “What people have to understand with this team, we’re trying to do things like the Spurs system. It’s just weird because we’re such a young team and we need to be used towards our personnel’s ability. Like I said, it’s all about having everyone on the same page and doing what’s right.”
With a solid core of Gordon, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Tyreke Evans, the Pelicans finished 12th in the challenging Western Conference with a 34-48 record.
“It’s a weird situation for everyone down there,” said Gordon. “We are a young team that’s had a lot of injuries over the past years. We kind of underachieved and we’re looking that opportunity where we can get everybody healthy and everybody back on the same page. I think once we start winning and make the playoffs, all the bad noise that has been talking about us will go away.”
No. 3: Bryant responds to Klinsmann’s comment about his contract — U.S. soccer coach Jurgen Klinnsman got himself in some hot water with L.A. Lakers fans when he openly used Kobe Bryant‘s two-year, $48.5 million extension as an example of American sports organizations deferring too much to veteran stars. Bryant was used as an example by Klinnsman as to why he cut Landon Donovan from the U.S. team. On Monday, Bryant was read Klinnsman’s comments while visiting the ESPN set during the World Cup and the Los Angeles Daily News‘ Mark Medina has more on the interview:
Bryant appeared on set with ESPN gushing about the growth of American soccer, a possible Argentina-Brazil final and his impressions on Brazilian star Neymar. But he hardly shared the same enthusiasm for U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinnsman, who questioned Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million contract as an example of American sports organizations deferring too much to veteran stars. Klinnsman invoked Bryant’s name as an example illustrating why he cut star American veteran Landon Donovan from the U.S. roster.
“Kobe Bryant, for example—why does he get a two-year contract extension for $50 million?” Klinsmann recently told New York Times magazine. “Because of what he is going to do in the next two years for the Lakers? Of course not. Of course not. He gets it because of what he has done before. It makes no sense. Why do you pay for what has already happened?”
Bryant smiled when those words were read back to him.
“I thought it was pretty funny. I thought it was pretty comical actually,” Bryant said. “I see his perspective. But the one perspective that he’s missing from an ownership point of view is that you want to be part of an ownership group that is rewarding its players for what they’ve done while balancing the team going forward. If you’re another player in the future and you’re looking at the Lakers organization, you want to be a part of an organization that takes care of its players while at the same time planning for the future. Jurgen is a coach, a manager. He’s not a GM or owner of the franchise. When you look at it from that perspective, it changes a little bit. But you probably could have used another player as an example.”
Bryant also laughed off Klinnsman recently questioning Team USAs’ chances to win the 2014 World Cup considering its group play features opponents in Ghaha, Germany and Portugal. How would Bryant react if a coach expressed such doubt to him?
“I don’t think they’d ever say that to me,” Bryant said. “My reputation precedes me. As a team, you just rally around it. I think you have too look at it from a point of view as a tactic to motivate his guys even at the point of making himself the bad guy to the team. As long as it brings the guys together to get out there and perform and prove their coach wrong, then it works. It’s a tough draw. but we’re up to the challenge. If you’re going to be the best, you have to beat the best. We’re up for it.”
No. 4: Media kept at bay during Wiggins’ visit to Philly — Reports surfaced over the weekend that the Philadelphia 76ers would have top Draft prospect Andrew Wiggins in town to get a closer look at his game in anticipation for next week’s Draft. So, how has Wiggins’ visit to the City of Brotherly Love gone? No one really knows, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer:
One thing is certain: The 76ers are entertaining the player they’re targeting in the NBA draft for a couple of days.
But no one outside of the parties involved really knows how Andrew Wiggins’ visit to Philadelphia is coming along.
The 6-foot-8 swingman, who left Kansas after his freshman season, was not available to the reporters who gathered Monday outside the Sixers’ practice facility at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Campus security asked the news media and fans to leave at the team’s request. A Philadelphia police officer was summoned later because the media stood on the sidewalk instead of across the street from the facility.
He got into a black Chevrolet Suburban with Sixers center Nerlens Noel and front office employee Brandon D. Williams.
Wiggins was spotted Monday night at a Rittenhouse Square restaurant with Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Despite having been roundly beaten in The Finals just two days ago, the Heat remain the odds-on favorite to win the title in 2015 … Re-signing hard-working swingman P.J. Tucker is a top free-agent priority for the Suns … Cool little YouTube video recapping all of the 2014 playoffs … Don’t bank on Thabo Sefolosha being back with the Thunder next season …