Kerr: “We may have to resort to some different tactics”
[practice, NOP-GSW video/transcripts]
I said in the last post that I would dedicate this article to Steve Kerr, but now that it looks like there are way more things on the plate after two consecutive lackluster home performances by the Warriors against Toronto, then New Orleans, this will simply be a catch-up on practice Tuesday followed by the videos, transcripts and game notes from Wednesday’s game.
Hopefully prior to tipoff in Chicago on Friday, I will post something about all the problems and paradoxes that the squad is going through. Obviously, I already covered Draymond Green’s presser after the Dubs practiced, so that’s not include in this piece which happens to also be from practice.
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The biggest takeaway from Tuesday’s practice was that Kerr reiterated how they’re not going to run pick-and-roll all game long for Stephen Curry and have him dribble “700 times”, and that what’s been missing offensively is the “play after the play” for Curry.
And then in the postgame, in a follow-up on him saying that one of the assistant coaches said the team, in its current state, is “the quietest team ever”, asked about his voice in the locker room and if he’s getting through to the guys, Steve said:
When we're fragile like we are right now, I don't think that screaming and yelling at them is going to help. I'm trying to keep their confidence up. I'm trying to encourage them. but at some point, that may have to change. I mean, we can't keep going this way. Two straight games being non-competitive at home. We have to find some fight. And so, we may have to resort to some different tactics.
So that will be the Number One thing to look out for prior to tipoff Friday at the Bulls: can they find some fight?
In this post, we will also take a look at a bunch of topics raised in an ad hoc livestream I did Tuesday night, in the wake of Kerr’s revealing Q&A. Here’s the Table of Contents (basically ordered chronologically):
Steve from Tuesday’s practice
Live chat notes Tuesday night
Steve/Klay/Loon/Steph Wednesday night
STEVE FROM TUESDAY PRACTICE
We just heard from a very thoughtful Draymond and on his podcast he mentioned when you two met up in person and had that heart to heart, you told him, ‘I want you to end this the right way.’ What does that look like for Draymond? What did you mean by that, ‘end this the right way’?
STEVE KERR AFTER PRACTICE, DAY BEFORE NOP-GSW: “We're in a position obviously where we're getting older, trying to defend everything that we've done over the last decade. Let's do it the right way. Let's do it with dignity. Let's do it with competitive desire. Let's do it joyfully. You know what this team has been built on, and I think what attracts a lot of our fans, it's not just the style, but it's the joy that the players feel, but the competitive desire that sort of complements that and it's been a wonderful combination. But there's been a sense of dignity about the team as well. And obviously there's been some bumps in the road, but these guys have, over a decade, seen it all and done everything and nothing lasts forever, but let's keep going as long as we can, but handle ourselves the best way we can. That's what that meant.”
Steve, you've had conversations with Draymond a lot, but a lot this season, just about his conduct and just about his suspensions. How are you approaching this, him coming back? Are you taking a wait and see approach on how he is going to be? Do you think that this is going to be different? How are you approaching this as you bring him back into the fold?
“I'm just open-minded. We just came back to practice. So, this next week will be a time where he's integrating himself back into the group. It's so different from an injury. He was away, literally away from the group for three weeks. That's a long period of time during the season to be gone. So, there needs to be this period where he's practicing and communicating with the guys and once he's ready to play, we'll figure out what we're going to do. But, he's been here for 12 years. He's been here longer than I have. So, he's still obviously a huge part of this thing and a huge part of our leadership and he's going to reassume that mantle, but he needs the awareness that comes with what he's just gone through and what he's just put the team through as well. And so those are all part of the discussions and part of the reintegration process.”
Hi Coach. Draymond just mentioned that, on one of your first film sessions together, you had said welcome back and BP had started a round of applause, essentially, and Draymond was like, ‘I don't necessarily feel like I've deserved that, but I'll take it.’ That concept of reintegrating yourself from a voice perspective is very different than the ramp-up from a physical perspective. How, in your experience, have you seen when a player comes back from a suspension, whether it's Draymond or anyone in your career, where there's this concept of potentially losing respect in the locker room, or having any concern about keeping the morale of the team up with this person coming back. How have you seen players do this well, and how have you encouraged Draymond to do the same?
“Yeah, it's a great question. And I know that Draymond just spoke with you for half an hour and I don't know what he told you. I know he had his podcast, so I know he's talked a lot about his feelings. I think he shared with you my conversation with him, about no more buts. Did he? Yeah. He shared that with you.”
He said that on his podcast, he said Hazel (Draymond’s wife) had actually said the same thing to him too.
“Yeah. And I just think there has to be a sense that there can't be an explanation that follows the apology and it's not an apology. So what I'm looking for, what the team's looking for, what I think Draymond knows is expected is no more buts, just an apology needs to be an apology and then you move on, but then you have to learn from that apology. That's just kind of basic standard behavior. And that's what we need. We need him at his best. What makes Draymond great is his bravado, his emotion. what makes Steph great is his confidence, mixed with his humility. And it's interesting to watch how powerful humility can be. And I saw it with Tim Duncan all the time. And I think everybody's different, so I don't expect Draymond to all of a sudden behave like Steph Curry or Tim Duncan. I want him to behave like himself, but there needs to be some humility in the wake of everything that's happened, that goes along with that bravado. We still need the bravado. We still need the emotion, but we need the humility that comes when you know you're wrong. When you've made serious mistakes, when you've put your team at peril, when you've potentially harmed other people, opponents, teammates, that balance is the key to all of this. And Draymond knows that. He and I have had that discussion, He's been away for a while. He's had a lot of time to reflect. I think that's what we're all looking for. One of the things he mentioned within all this is like, a point of emphasis for him is to not cross the line with officials.”
And that's not something he will get suspended for. A T is a T within a game. But how much of that, are you watching that aspect as he comes back? The small stuff, the in-game stuff, for him to try to cut out?
“It's a big part of it, and we've talked about it. It's, can he walk that line? Can he still play with fire and energy, but leave the officials alone? That's the challenge. It's going to be a big challenge. But, we're going to ask him to do that. And we need that so that we can focus on the game. His teammates need that so that we can focus on all of the little details that are eluding us right now that are keeping us from being a consistent team. So that's what we're asking of him.”
Obviously bigger issues at stake, but there is a countdown towards February 8th, less than a month, whenever he's back, presumably, it's not too long from now. Do you feel like there's going to be enough time to assess what this team is like with him out there? What this team needs? What this team might have to do? Is that enough time to assess everything?
“Yeah. Yeah, we've had plenty of time to assess the team, this year and the last couple of years. I don't think that's going to be an issue.”
Steve, how do you assess the pace your team is playing at last year? You guys were first in the league in pace this year, you’re middle of the pack sub-100 possessions per game. Do you like the tempo of your offense right now?
“We didn't want to be the fastest team in the league after how we played last year, because of our turnovers, the combination last year of the turnovers and bad shots in transition, led to us being at the bottom of the league in points per possession in transition at 28th. That's a bad combination. If you're going to run every time and not score efficiently, that's not going to lead to many wins. So we wanted to come in this year. slow the pace down a little bit. We still want to push every time we have an advantage and throw the ball ahead. But I felt more comfortable, especially with Chris coming aboard, that our pace would slow down a little bit. What this team needs is to find the balance. We've actually turned it over way less frequently now here, the last couple of weeks. But, we need to find the right balance between how fast we're playing, how efficiently we're scoring. I think the last 15 games we’re second in the league in offensive efficiency. So finding a much better balance, but we're not defending. And so we're trying to put it all together and it's been a big challenge, obviously.”
Every game for you guys right now is pretty important. How quickly are you guys going to try to get him back?
“I think he looked pretty good. He definitely needs to play more basketball before he's ready to step onto an NBA floor. just for his rhythm and his timing. He's always been a player who is going to make quick decisions and push the envelope. But the timing of everything matters. his skill in terms of his handling the ball because he's pushing in transition, all that stuff really matters. And so he needs to find some rhythm here over the next week or two, and we'll see where it all goes. I know part of when he was out, it was kind of like out of sight, out of mind.”
Don't worry about it rotationally, but now that he's back and his return is, is, is close. how do you start to look at? The dominoes that are going to go in the starting lineup, all that, and do you almost already start implementing some stuff, in anticipation?
“It's been the story of the season, really, trying, trying to find, the right combinations, particularly in the starting lineup, the strength of the team, besides, Steph obviously has been the second unit with Chris and Dario kind of anchoring that unit, those have been our best lineups all year. But now with Chris out, obviously that jumbles not only the second unit, but the starting unit. So we have a lot to figure out for sure.”
Would Draymond coming back lessen the interest in playing Kuminga and Wiggins together? And after the last game, are you less interested in seeing those two guys together given the results?
“Yeah. I mean, it's just tough. Like we know this, Steph is such a unique player, that the combinations around Steph really make a big difference. And we've been trying a lot of different things this year, but I've said the last week we'd like to try that more. And it really didn't go well, clearly the other night. So it's tough when you're where we are in 11th place in the West. It's tough to continue to experiment with things that really aren't proving to be very successful. So, it still could happen, but I'm being perfectly honest, I'm less inclined to do it now.”
Steve, you talked about defending everything you guys have built over the last 10 years and nothing lasts forever. And Draymond on his podcast mentioned the thought of retirement. Did that come up in your conversation? And can you run us through what that's like as these players kind of talk about the end? Obviously you're still playing, but Klay had mentioned something, you had a conversation recently. So just kind of that mindset that those guys are in, especially the big three.
“Yeah. I mean, without really talking about my own conversation with Draymond, I mean, I just think that my own experience as a player, when you start thinking about what's next, it's a very unique situation to professional sports where you're 33 years old and you're trying to figure out what you're going to do with the rest of your life. It's strange, I remember Phil Jackson used to tell us in Chicago that when an athlete retires, a part of him dies, and I didn't really understand it until I retired and then I felt it’s part of your identity, part of your everyday ritual, routine. It just disappears and it feels so bizarre and and I think as you get older and you're down to the last couple of years, you start to recognize this is coming and it's a little intimidating and that puts a lot of interesting thoughts in your head. How am I going to handle this? What am I going to do? Some guys transition pretty well. Some guys struggle with it, but everybody thinks about it and most other careers, you're not thinking about this until 62, in the NBA. You're thinking about it at 32 and or even younger. And so it's not easy for these guys to go through it.”
On the topic of defense that you mentioned before, there's a mix of defenses, heart and hustle and just how much you want it. Also schemes, zones versus man, a certain time, certain people having certain matchups. I'm curious at the NBA level, these are professionals, they're the best of the best in the world, how much as a coach can you really improve upon defense, versus just telling someone wanting it more than the other person on the other side of the ball? And at practice, what goes into trying to improve defense?
“Yeah, that's a good point. What we talk about is there's urgency and there's awareness and you better have one. If you don't have either, you're in huge trouble. We didn't have either the other night. There was no urgency and no awareness for the first six minutes of the game. And it was embarrassing. They had the cross-match with Scottie Barnes. He's running ahead of the play and he's got Steph. After the first time it's like, okay, we've got to adapt. And yet, at that point, everybody should be sprinting back, bump him out of there. But five more possessions where they just throw it over the top. And so there was no urgency and no awareness. And that led to the performance where for the first time in 10 years we got booed off the floor, we deserved it. So there has to be urgency. Number one, forget the scheme, scheme doesn't matter. If you have urgency, then you can at least be competitive. The awareness is part of it too. That's feel. Different players have a different level of awareness. But what you want is urgency and awareness, and then the scheme will impact things from there.”
Steve, we've seen a couple of rough nights from Steph and he's had a few more of those than he's probably used to. What do you think it is? Do you think it's fatigue? How the defense is guarding him or what do you think is going on?
“I think it's a combination of the above. I think there's a little fatigue. It's a long season. Usually, every year he has a couple spells where he's not on his game and that's just natural for him, any player. But we've thrown a ton on his shoulders. The burden that Steph Curry has on him for this franchise is unfair. The Draymond suspension. Draymond is the vocal leader of the team, obviously, right? He and Steph have kind of been co-captaining the leadership with our group for a decade. So without Draymond here, that adds a lot more to Steph's plate. We're trying to integrate a lot of young players. Steph has a very unique style. It's the play after the play that matters, with Steph. And we've put him in some combinations where the play after the play isn't happening, and that's frustrating for him. He's not James Harden or Luka. We're not gonna just run a high pick and roll and spread the floor, and he's gonna dribble 700 times. That's not his game. So he has to thrive off the ball just as well as he does on the ball. And frankly, we've had some combinations out there that don't recognize that as well as certain combinations. So when you mix in that and some of the other guys struggling, whatever, and occasional turmoil, that's a lot. That's a lot. And this guy has carried our torch for over a decade. And everything we've built is really based on him. And so we're, we're putting too much on his plate right now.”
Just where are you on how (Wiggins) is playing right now and what you can do to utilize him better or, whatever.
“I don't, I don't have the exact numbers, but if you remove the last two games, the Detroit and the Toronto (games), if you look over the past maybe 15 games or so, Wiggs’ numbers are good. He's shooting over 40 percent during that block. He's looked better to me. He's looked more active. He's definitely practiced better, looks livelier, bouncier. So I'm gonna flush the last two games down the toilet as we all should, myself included. None of us did much of anything to be worthy of remembering, so we're gonna flush those two down and I think Wiggs has been on the upswing. And I think the numbers would back me up if I had a PR guy who could actually come up with that stuff. It would be helpful (jokes). But it's been a rough go for everybody the last couple weeks right around Anyway, I think Wiggs has actually been a lot better. I think the numbers would show that. I believe in him. I think with Draymond coming back soon, I think everything's right there for us to find our game and to find some momentum and find our team again. But right now we've, we've gone astray for sure.”
LIVESTREAM NOTES FROM TUE NIGHT
0:00 premiere of the STEVE KERR interview from today (20 mins)
5:45 Kerr interview starts
7:15 on dignity and joy
9:00 on Kerith Burke of NBC Sports Bay Area and Logan Murdock of The Ringer
11:00 on Draymond tensing up when he found out he was being reinstated, Kerr says Draymond has been there longer
13:00 Zena Keita asks about reintegrating Draymond but maybe losing respect -- on Podziemski's squad chemistry, "BP2", fullcourt shot, reintegrating Dray's voice
20:00 on Kerr's answer, Draymond not expected to be some calm or joyful dude (it's ok if he gets a tech in his first game back), on the theme being humility this season and maybe even Steph needs to do that in terms of maybe letting Kuminga blossom some more?
26:00 love how Slater said it's ok for Dray to get a T because it's within the game
26:15 can he walk that line but leave the officials alone?
27:15 on Kerr saying don't mess with the officials at all even though it'd be ok with me and Slater to get a tech, on Dray's "sacrifice" for the whole team in that they all might stop arguing with refs (JK learn by example?)
32:15 Kawakami asks if there's enough time to assess the team, looking at calendar maybe Dray will have played close to 4 weeks by the time Feb 8th trade deadline maybe that's why Kerr seems overly confident with TK's question
37:00 on R.Skinner saying "Wiggs wants out" -- SEEMS LIKE GROSS SPECULATION, his wife hasn't indicated anything
37:30 on JK asking for minutes and my anecdote from the Associates SF and Japanese/Filipino League in college
41:15 JK plays without that angry style of basketball on the court (MJ, Bird, Kobe), joyful player, but has that same "put me out on the court" mentality
44:15 on trade deadline, not feeding on fear, not predicting how we'll play by say Feb 1, on having confidence in Dunleavy, our trade scenarios are probably too much compared to reality
49:00 last 15 games we're top 2 in offensive efficiency
51:00 we invite Austin Scott of KNBR who was IN THE ROOM TODAY with Steve AND Draymond Green!
53:00 30-40 ppl were in the interview room, 5 cameras in the room, usually 2
53:45 Austin: you could tell Dray had changed, tone, enlightening
54:30 Kerr's interview was the story of the day
55:30 tons of stuff from Austin on the feel of the room
1:00:00 Dean joins and asks questions for Austin
1:06:00 on John Dickinson finding out that Draymond would talk today, how they ended up with 30-40 people
1:08:30 Austin on how hard it is to cut Dray's long answers
1:10:00 Austin on whether or not Dray looked gassed, he did not, and he looks ready
1:11:00 Austin on any rotation stuff he's hearing or has an opinion about
1:13:00 Austin likes Podziemski, cocky but not annoying, and if he'll play point guard
1:15:00 Austin gives us some media dining room stuff (soft serve!)
1:20:30 Austin: a lot of fans are negative right now
1:21:00 Austin on the 700x times dribbling, the fans reply outraged
1:22:00 chemistry seems better this year, like family
1:24:00 on Steph's recent brain farts
1:28:00 Austin wonders what fans and media think of JK, if Keegan Murray would be better (Austin and JD think so)
1:34:00 Kerr interview resumes: on Draymond's reintegration
1:36:00 "the combinations around Steph" that's the whole paradigm of the Warriors
1:37:00 on Kerr being "less inclined" to play Wiggs and JK together, on being a competitive baller, on Steve waiting for Spoelstra to set the market at 8 years $120 million, whoever plays better
1:46:00 on no plays for JK yet, on the Spurs changing paradigm from Duncan to Kawhi between 2007-2014. On this all being more about the psychology of man, taking negativity into not learning or wanting to learn how Kerr and Lacob and Steph and the culture really is
1:52:00 on LetsGoWarriors being like Kerr is in the room, on P&R do you really want to drive Steph into the ground (we'll do that in playoffs anyways)
1:53:45 Dean: feels like an orchestra off notes
1:54:15 Steph having the ball in his hands all the time isn't the answer
1:55:00 Zzzap: But it's part of their culture. To inject changes that are not in line or normal to them will indeed be a paradigm shift and go away as well from their identity
1:56:30 just this next month of basketball
1:57:30 Ladarius: You literally saw last year against the Lakers that he was wearing down being on-ball as much. Nothing Kerr said was wrong. People harping on what Steve about what he said about the PnR, don't understand that literally tires him out, along with getting attacked on defense
1:57:45 havok: People seem to forget that Steph, Klay, Draymond, and Kerr earned us 4 championships!
1:58:15 Zamby: it's so funny to me how people will argue with steve on how to run the offense as if they have a fraction of the basketball mind steve has -- Dean: just be a little more respectful
1:58:45 Dean Agan: I'm hoping to see JK be like a Kawhi transition -- such an athletic marvel JK is -- Dean loves how he is an international player
2:00:00 Dean on Bill Russell throwing the ball off the wire, on how guys make mistakes after Zamby: yup, I agree Dean. there are times when i feel like a player or coach made a bad decision but there is always a reason they do those things so i just want to learn from those who are better than me -- Dean: trying to figure out why rather than just being mad about it
2:01:00 Cholo reminds us: We had to go P&R vs. lakers because Klay went cold and lost his gravity a bit. So whole defense was on Steph off the ball. We got positive results with On-ball Curry so we spammed that. Tired Curry. -- Dean adds that Poole was hurt with ankle
2:03:30 Kerr on Draymond retiring: my anecdote on how I never had to feel like a part of me died (Phil Jackson reference by Steve) when I switched from playing to covering LetsGoWarriors and every practice with Steph Klay Durant, on feeling closer to the team
2:11:15 defensive urgency vs awareness as asked by Zena, Scottie Barnes vs Steph. we just didn't have the toughness (outside of calling more timeouts or starting Podz) to thwart the Scottie vs Steph post up
2:16:15 on Steph's slump asked by Marcus Thompson leading to the burden on Steph being "unfair", the "dribble 700x" P&R quip
2:19:00 Dean on urgency vs awareness: fundamentals
2:20:45 on Steph's seemingly mental exhaustion, playing loose and free
2:23:00 One thing I have been thinking about is that JK should be looking to ask Steve, etc on how he can get to the same point that JP got to, getting a bit more rope. I know JP was just an offensive power. -- I think there were injuries (Klay being out until Klay Day) where JP got to really be a Splash Brother so to speak
2:24:00 Dean likes the nerves of JK to demand that he plays
2:25:00 on Steve having a parallel dad trauma and maybe extra compassion for Wiggs
2:31:00 on implementing an option other than Steph and Klay
2:35:00 on it being super-difficult to change the paradigm
2:37:00 on JK already doing it (he hasn't) vs saying that he can, but good thing we have this problem vs Suns, "what do we do with BP and Kuminga and Moody"
2:38:30 on Shams never revealing he has six sources in the GSW locker room as he did Lakers on Ham's rotations and locker room disagreement
2:39:00 Kerr mentions Wiggs is 40% in last 15 games other than last two DET TOR, "flush the last two games down the toilet"
2:45:00 "BP2" hitting the fullcourt shot, playing baseball, velocity of ball as mentioned to me by his dad John
2:50:30 DVDV: on actual length of Draymond suspension
2:51:15 on Draymond praising Adam Silver
2:52:15 my mea culpa on accepting new information about Silver
2:54:00 on still respecting different cultures of basketball, and how this Draymond thing might miscast the problem with the refs when it wasn't really about that (suspended for Nurkic swipe)
Just how disappointing is it now? Back to back games where you are hearing booze at home and maybe you felt again that some of those booze were many of them were deserved from the effort that your team showed out there.
STEVE KERR, POSTGAME NOP-GSW: “Yeah, we deserved it for sure, fell behind immediately. We’re just lacking confidence right now. You get to a stage sometimes where you just kind of lose your belief and it happens. And that's what's happened right now with our team. The last few days, we've just lost the spirit and the confidence that has to carry you against talented teams night in and night out.”
Some of your roughest nights this season have been kind of like blown leads, but these two nights, is this a more concerning thing to happen?
“Of course, of course. Yeah, we weren't competitive these last two games. One of the coaches, on the way down said we're the quietest team. And without Draymond and Chris, it's really exposed. Just, there's not much chatter defensively. We do have a very quiet group of guys with this particular team that's out there now, and we probably need a pick me up. We need Draymond. We need Chris. We need guys who can kind of — when you're going through it like this, it's only one way out and that's to fight together to compete together. And somehow we gotta get stops. I mean, gave up 141 points. They scored at will and we have to be able to get stops to be competitive.”
Steve, I know when you guys came back from Denver on Christmas, you guys kind of looked forward to this homestand as a chance to kind of come together. Now that it's over, what do you make of what happened over the course of these last seven games?
“Yeah, I mean, we obviously failed. We lost six of eight; obviously the Denver game was a gut punch. That’s the one we felt like we had and they snatched it. And then I think, that really, with the injury to Chris, it seems to have just kind of sapped us a little bit of confidence and direction. We just seem out of sync, at both ends right now.”
Coach, in the past you've talked about some of these situations and tough games, going back and going through them, watching them. What can you take away from this game following Sunday? And will you go back and watch it?
“Oh, yeah, I mean, definitely gonna watch it. But, we head to Chicago tomorrow. We got a back to back. So, I mean, this is the NBA. There's not much time to sort of get yourself together, reconnect, refocus all that. I mean, there's a game instantly. And so we have no choice. We gotta get better quickly and we gotta be more competitive and more connected. We got a big job ahead for sure.”
Podziemski, he's been playing well for a rookie dropped into this. What do you think's happened in the last couple of games? Is it just size, maybe some bigger wings getting to him? Minus-31 tonight. What do you see happening with him?
“Well, it could be a little bit of the rookie wall. This is the time where you've played a lot of games, the calendar turns and you still have 50 games left. Whatever it is, he may be a little tired, but last couple of games he hasn't knocked down a shot, which, sometimes when the shot goes, it looks worse than it is. But, I do think his defense hasn't been as good these last couple games. Could be size, like I said, could be rookie wall, but he'll bounce back, I believe, in Brandin.”
You mentioned you think the team is kind of in a sense, lost some of its confidence, which points to not just solely being a basketball thing. Do you think a road trip where you guys are a little together more and away from some of the noise here at Chase Center? Do you think that could be helpful?
“I hope so. We got our next four on the road, so we gotta get it together.”
After the Denver loss on this homestand, Steph said, ‘We're not losing hope yet.’ But where is the line between loss of confidence right now and losing hope?
“Well, look, we're in the middle of the season. There's a long way to go . And so, this is all kind of part of it. When you're struggling as a team in the middle of an NBA season, you can't lose hope. So you have to fight your way out of it. And that's all there is to it. I mean, we can talk about it in a million different ways. But we just got hammered, back-to-back games at home. We gotta get better in a hurry.”
You mentioned a while ago that this is why you kept the starting lineup. You gave them so many chances from last season because who knows what happens if you start changing. Obviously there were reasons to do it. But do you feel that's kind of been the thing that's kind of broken down some of the things that held him together?
“Well, I mean, we went away from that lineup for a reason. We were struggling and we weren't clicking with that lineup. But the result has been we're scattered. We're all over the place with lineups. We're trying to find different combinations whereas a lot of teams like New Orleans are really rounding into form. They know exactly who they are. We’re scattered. You can point to a number of reasons why none of them matter. The only thing that matters is we are scattered and we've gotta find some continuity and find some lineups and find some fight.”
When you talk about silence on the court, without Draymond and Chris, do you look to Steph to encourage him to kind of pick up that role since guys look to him to always close out the game?
“We look to Steph for everything and we can't expect him to all of a sudden be a huge voice. I mean, everybody is who they are. And so he's naturally a quiet person. He's incredibly competitive. But it doesn't become his job.”
Steve, you mentioned the communication a couple of times or lack of it. And I know during this homestand you guys are 29th in defensive rating. How much is that connected to communication and how much of it is just lack of effort or whatever you want to look for?
“It's all of the above, we're getting beat off the dribble. We’re not hitting bodies enough on box outs. There just seems to be a lot of space out there for our opponents to find. And then, when you struggle, everybody makes threes against you. I mean, that's, tonight, they hit five threes in the first four minutes, two from Valanciunas, two from Herb Jones. Those are actually the guys you want shooting the threes, you know? So it's, ‘when it rains, it pours.’ And right now we're in it.”
When it comes to having a quiet team, how much do you let the players talk to each other or the veterans gather in the locker room? And then how much do you use your voice? And do you sense you're getting through to the guys?
“Yeah, I mean, as a coach, it's a delicate balance. When we're fragile like we are right now, I don't think that screaming and yelling at them is going to help. I'm trying to keep their confidence up. I'm trying to encourage them. but at some point, that may have to change. I mean, we can't keep going this way. Two straight games being non-competitive at home. We have to find some fight. And so, we may have to resort to some different tactics. But more than anything, we've gotta be connected defensively to give ourselves a chance.”
You mentioned Draymond as a potential boost, like the plan on him over the next few days, has he scrimmaged yet?
“He’s been scrimmaging every day, scrimmaged today before the game. He'll go on the trip. He’s obviously getting closer each day. We’re hopeful that he might play on the trip, but we'll see.”
Coach, how would you assess Moses's play tonight?
“Moses was great. I thought he really competed. He attacked the basket, dove on the floor a couple times for loose balls, was fighting for rebounds, so it's so disappointing that he tweaked his calf. He said it was not bad. He said he strained it, but I believe he'll be getting an MRI, but I thought he really competed. Thank you.”
Klay, you guys have been saying for a while that the wins haven't all been coming, but you've been playing well. You've been playing in close games, maybe let a few go that you should have won. Last two games have not been like that here. Klay, what can you put your finger on what's happened and what the mood is in there after these two?
KLAY THOMPSON POSTGAME NOP-GSW: “Pretty deflating mood, but that's expected when you get blown out twice in a row at home. We have to be better. I think defensively, they shot really high percentages from the field from the three and that's not our identity. Just relenting on defense. So I think we go to Chicago on Friday. We really just gotta establish that again. Just being gritty on the defensive end.”
Klay, you guys have been booed each of the last two home games. Obviously, you're not used to that. How do you handle that?
“I don’t care. You supposed to lose sleep over it?”
Klay, Steve said that you guys have lost some confidence, maybe lost your belief. He even said the team feels a little fragile right now, tipping on confident or not confident. Are you seeing some of that fragility, which can be a little surprising for a team of champions and veterans?
“That was a long question. I'm sorry Kerith, can you break that down again?”
Lost confidence, lost belief. He said the team is a little fragile.
“I mean, that's probably a correct assessment from Steve. So, it’s just about picking each other up. And, I think going into Chicago, you just gotta play with nothing to lose. And play free-minded. Because when you do that, you usually have fun. And you usually play as a team.”
Klay, why do you think you guys have started so slow and let the other opponents really get control of the game?
“I don't know. But, I think, early in the game. We had some ugly turnovers. I mean, that's on me. I had three in the first quarter alone, which is not good and then our defense was just too soft from the point of attack and I think give credit to guys like Cory Joseph, and Moses played incredible tonight. Cory really set the tone with his ball pressure, full-court ball pressure, and we’ll get back to that on Friday as far as not just letting the offense be able to dictate what they want to do all the time, and I felt like they did that tonight with open three after open three.”
Klay, do you ever feel the need, especially with the young guys on this roster, to use your voice more to kind of galvanize the troops? And Steve mentioned he thinks a lot of confidence is down amongst the group, no one specifically, he said, but just group wide. He thinks the confidence is down just with your stature on the team. Do you feel the need to kind of speak up a little more?
“Yeah, sometimes I can be better with that. And just uplifting your fellow teammate. Basketball is a game where you have to play with that worldly confidence to unlock your full potential and we might not have shown that last two nights, but we’re not gonna quit, still a lot of basketball to be played.”
You also mentioned it's just been quiet defensively. I mean, have you felt — obviously no Draymond, no Chris — but I mean, is it too quiet out there?
“Yeah. Definitely quiet without Chris and Draymond but we're all looking forward to their returns.”
Is there something you guys can do to help lift Andrew Wiggins?
“Just remind him who he is. I mean, without Andrew Wiggins, this franchise doesn't see a championship in 2022. And we gotta continue to remind Wiggs how great he really is. I mean, with one of the best two-way players in the world. And I know that ability is still in there. Luckily, we've got a lot of basketball ahead, but he reminds me of myself actually, a lot. He internalizes a lot of things and he cares so much about his play that it could hurt him just like myself. When I don't play up to my standard, it hurts. And that's what you want to see out of a teammate. You don't want to see someone who just doesn't care. But Wiggs, if he didn't care, we wouldn't, like I said, have won a championship two years ago, so I know I'm grateful for him, and I know he's still got greatness ahead for himself. And, yes, it's in there.”
Chris Paul has been a part of so many of your guys most successful lineups How much has his absence been felt in the past two games?
“His absence has been felt greatly. Got it? Cool.”
So you've talked after the last two games about how quiet it's been on the floor. I mean, have you felt that? And what's, I guess, kind of the issue there?
KEVON LOONEY: “Yeah. We try to do our best to talk and be more vocal, but we miss Chris. He's one of the guys that talks to the party the most … Gary talks a lot out there on the court. So you're missing pieces like that. That's kind of our core of people that are out there talking, especially on the defensive end. It’s tough, but we gotta be better. We gotta hold each other more accountable. We gotta just be more communicative out there. We know what we're doing. We just gotta talk about it when we're on the court. And, I think that's probably a big problem that's been keeping our defense from taking that next step.”
Kevon … speaking about the lack of CP and Dray being out there, as a veteran member of this team, do you try and do a little bit more in those situations? How do you try and, I guess, supplement the lack of their voices in situations like that?
“…definitely try to be more talkative. That's my job anyway, out there as the big man on the court. But, it takes a group. We gotta be five guys out there talking. I think guys are taking that step to talk more, but we still gotta take it to another level, myself included, but everybody out there has to be more vocal about executing on both ends of the court. We do it for stretches, and in stretches we don't talk. So we gotta just continue to work on that and just be better.”
Kevon, what gives you the hope and confidence that you guys can turn this thing around and go on a run here before the trade deadline?
“We’re gonna show flashes of what we can be and we show flashes of what we're doing now. So, my confidence comes from, we still got the talent, still got Steph. And we've been in games with a lot of great teams that’s supposed to be really good. We've been up and we just didn't close games. And then we had games like tonight where we didn't show up. So, I think the other team is who we really are. We just gotta go out there and prove it and put together 48-minute games, not just halves or quarters. And, I think we got the talent and the pieces in the character in the locker room and do it. So we just gotta go out there and do it.”
In your opinion, what's the cause for starting so slow where your opponents just jump ahead and just bang threes and a little bit tonight?
“I would say it was turnovers, but sometimes I think it's sometimes turnovers and just our defense. We gotta come out and punch first and be more aggressive and dictate how the game is going to go. Sometimes we get reactive and they hit us first and then we try to come and fight back. But, teams are hitting threes like they were tonight. Once you get in the hole, give up 50, almost 50 points in the first quarter, it's no coming back from that. So we kind of gotta set the tone with our physicality and our defensive mindset earlier in the game. And our offense always want to come at some point, but we gotta start with the defense.”
Kevon, how would you assess how Moses is playing, just his readiness when he doesn't get consistent minutes?
“I think Moses played great. He provided us a great spark tonight. Whenever his name is called on, he usually shows up and plays well. And that's something he's been doing for the last few years and then he shocks us. He just has shown why he's a good player and he's going to be in this league for a long time.”
Well, I know you're not the general manager, but the trade deadline is coming up. Do you sense that maybe this team has a few weeks left to show management to keep it together?
“I don't really try to think about none of that. I just try to control what I can control and try to go out there and try to compete as a group and try to win as many games as possible. You hear all the stuff and you just don't want to think about it because you don't want to let that stuff affect your play and let that affect your confidence. You just want to go out there and play as hard as you can and try to win for whoever is on the court…”
Kerr mentioned a little while ago that he feels the team's kind of lost its confidence and you can see it, you can feel it. Do you sense the same thing? That there's just something that the confidence is in there, that the belief sometimes is a little wavering right now?
“You can describe it however you want. We're just not playing great basketball, not giving ourselves any chance to be competitive these last two games. And I don't know. The last two starts have been — the last two first quarters have been a little rough. We settled it a little bit tonight at the end of the first quarter. I think it was like 20-6 at one point. But then, when you give the other team belief and you give the other team reason to keep their foot on the gas pedal, it makes it even harder knowing that we're going through our struggles as a team. So I don't know. However you describe it, it’s gotta change.”
At the beginning of this homestand you guys were 15-15. I know .500 isn't where you want to be but, now three games below, what do you think changed in the last two weeks between then and now?
“I wish I knew the answer. We could have avoided the situation we're in. Obviously our defense has not been great, giving up way too many points. And like I said, especially first quarters, teams coming out and punching us first. So we can turn it into good learning lessons and opportunities for growth. But it's not gonna happen on its own, and nobody's gonna feel sorry for us. Nobody is gonna help us get out of this hole. We have to do it ourselves. That's the challenge.”
After the Denver loss on the homestand you said it's frustrating because you were losing… ones that kind of collapsed in the last couple minutes. How is it different after blow-out losses?
“It's, I mean, same feeling … You just get embarrassed. And I think you get to a point where you're trying to, like, explain it away, trying to figure out what can change, like, specifically that can help us. And that's the conversations that are happening in between games and film sessions in the locker room. But it's headed the opposite way. And I don't know what to say about it. Just because we're not used to this kind of vibe around our team. So we have to acknowledge it, not let go of the rope, as they say, when it comes to our belief that we can just win the next game. But it all sucks.”
Kerr was saying how quiet is on the court without Draymond and Chris and you have a pretty quiet game, but moving forward until they come back, have you thought about any changes since a lot of the younger guys look to you to like, close the game and just what you're doing?
“I mean, I talk. It’s a different voice. It's obviously what Draymond does defensively as the anchor because not only his IQ, his defensive presence overall, but he's usually the one that's behind the court and able to bark out commands. And he prides himself on that. CP’s the same, and the sense of just what he sees on the floor. And so when we started the year, I think that was one of the things that was exciting about the roster. We had youth and we had things that they needed to learn as we went through the year, but we had veteran presence — Draymond, CP, myself, Loon — that could be the most vocal. And obviously when you're not there, not on the court it’s tough. It's tough to replace it, but it’s, again, another challenge for the guys that are out there to try to be vocal, try to talk, help our defense stay connected, intimidate the other team. Maybe that's another part of it, and we haven't done it.”
You're not the general manager and you know a lot of things are just going on that you can handle. But do you almost feel like that trade deadline coming up, you’ve got a certain amount of time to show management to keep things together, or they might have to make some major decisions?
“We have a standard. It's pretty — it's just evident that if things stay the same, that's the definition of insanity, right? Keep doing the same thing, expect a different result. So as players and what we can do, we have to control our effort, control the things that we can on the court. Every NBA season, every organization, that stuff works itself out and you can't allow yourself to get distracted by that, because whether you're at the top of the standings or the bottom, there's always rumors swirling, there's always conversations and it's just a part of the business. And until anything happens, you can't get caught up in it because it robbed you of your opportunity to play good basketball. And that's kind of where we're at.”
Steph, after a tough homestand, can it be galvanizing to go on a road trip and kind of get a breath of fresh air and then regroup before your next homestand here?
“It has to be. It has to be.”
This is the second straight game that you guys were booed here. How does that make you feel when you hear that?
“I don't even know what to say about it, because I don’t want to be prisoners of the moment and understand where we're obviously struggling. There's nothing to really cheer about. So obviously the cheering is booing. Might as well. I don't take it any certain type of way. Honestly I'm booing myself, booing our team in my head because of the way we're playing, so it is what it is. These fans are going to react the way that they want. It's our job to give them something to cheer about. We have not done that.”
Kevon, obviously after the last game, the last thing you wanted to do was play one like this. What’s kind of the mood in there right now, after those two games?
KEVON LOONEY: “We’re kind of down on ourselves. We're upset. You gotta play better, especially after the last game. We don't want to come out and have another stinker like tonight. So, it was rough. We gotta go watch film and think about this one and try to get better and move forward.”
Along those lines, this is the second straight game that you guys have been booed. How does that feel for you to hear that?
“It sucks, but we've been playing like we deserve it. So you can't be mad at the fans. They hold us to a high standard. We set a high standard here. So we gotta go out there and compete. And we got the talent and the pieces to be better and we gotta go out there and show it. And we’ve been getting closer and closer and now we’re kind of slipping a little bit. So we gotta refocus and regroup and try to get it back together.”
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