NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Curry: ’74 isn’t really a goal’ — The Golden State Warriors are fresh off a record-setting, 73-win regular season and run to The Finals. After adding former MVP Kevin Durant in the offseason to a group already stocked with All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry, the Warriors will get everyone’s best shot in 2016-17. To Curry, surpassing last season’s win total is hardly a goal for these Warriors as they look to atone for their 2016 Finals flub. He said as much in an interview during his Tour of Asia, which Warriors.com was on hand for:
“I think we’ve added some great character guys that will fit right into our identity and who we are as a team. And there’s only one goal this year which is obviously to win a championship so whatever it takes to make that happen, I’m sure we’ll figure it out.
“74 (wins) isn’t really a goal. If it happens, it happens. All of our energy will be spent on getting ourselves ready for a championship run. We want to have a great regular season obviously, we don’t want to have any slip-ups, but I don’t think coming into the season with the goal of 74 is a good focus. It’s about winning a championship.”
No. 2: Winslow’s shot showing signs of improvement — Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow emerged as a solid contributor for the team last season and was rewarded for his season with a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team. Despite an overall decent start to his NBA career, though, Winslow more often than not struggled with his shot and finished 2015-16 shooting 42.2 percent. The Heat have tried to rectify that problem by having a shooting coach work with Winslow, which seems to be paying off, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
The Heat is very encouraged by the progress Justise Winslow has made while working with a shooting specialist this summer. One Heat staffer said his stroke, release and rhythm are looking a lot better.
“You will see a major difference; he can be a special player,” that person said.
Winslow declined to identify the shooting coach but said he is “pretty pleased” with the results and that he’s working on his jumper during the early mornings and late at night.
The coach has made mechanical changes to his stroke, Winslow said: “Just smoothing things out. I am pretty confident. I like the way it’s going.”
Offensive growth is essential for Winslow to thrive as a starting small forward. Last season, he shot 27.6 percent on threes (32 for 116), 34.4 percent from 3 to 10 feet, 28.6 percent from 10 to 16 feet and 37.2 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line.
Winslow said it was “great to hear” Pat Riley say he’s ready to start at small forward: “Even before he said that, I kind of had that in my mind…. I’m expecting a huge leap in my performance.”
Winslow said “it’s pretty clear the mindset the Heat is going with, trying to build the young nucleus we have and trying to bring in some good complementary players. Hopefully, [Chris Bosh] can come back. Our goal [is] try to make the game as ugly as possible, play good defense and go from there. We’ve got a lot of players. If we can put it all together, we should be able to make the playoffs.”
No. 3: Gasol says he nearly signed with Spurs in 2014 — In the summer of 2014, Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol was among several big names were on the free-agent market (there was some guy named LeBron James out there, too). Although Gasol eventually decided to head to the Eastern Conference and sign with the Chicago Bulls, Gasol was close to joining the team that ousted his Lakers from the 2014 playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs. Gasol, who did sign with the Spurs this summer, revealed how he was almost San Antonio-bound two years ago in a recent interview transcribed by Eurohoops.net:
Before returning to the States, Pau Gasol was the main speaker in a sponsorship event in which he revealed that in the past he had denied the offer to play with the Spurs.
“Two years ago I declined the option of going to the Spurs. Now it was the right time to go to San Antonio”, explained the Spaniard: “Popovich has he told me that I will contribute a lot and along with LaMarcus Aldridge, without Tim Duncan any more, I will be one of the leaders of the team in the front line”.
For many years the idea of Gasol playing the final seasons of his career in Spain was a popular rumor in Europe, but now this is not happening: “While still playing in the NBA, my chances of returning to FC Barcelona are reduced. It’s a nice idea, but becoming less and less possible. My hope of playing for the national team remains the same, evaluating it year by year and analyzing how my body adapts to the workload.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone is growing with his young team … The Lopez brothers right a wrong for one of their heroes — Chewbacca … Can Ty Lawson turn his career around in Sacramento? … Indiana Pacers big man Lavoy Allen has carved out a nice NBA niche for himself …