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One thing is certain, the Golden State Warriors are strong favorites to win third title in four years
However, defending champions uncertain about White House visit, Steve Kerr's health and what can happen off of the court
OAKLAND – They will take the Pacific Division with ease, a participation ribbon in their universe. They open training camp Saturday with a cushion the size of San Francisco Bay to win the Western Conference a fourth consecutive season until someone proves otherwise, and are such a consensus choice to win another NBA title that picking a challenger is bold.
The Warriors are so predictable.
Unless Kevin Durant fires up the wrong Twitter account.
Or Steve Kerr suffers another setback.
Or a team vote leads to a statement polite in language but blunt in message declining a February visit to the White House, sparking conversation far beyond whether the James Harden-Chris Paul pairing can snowball into a genuine threat in the West or if acquiring Paul George is enough to elevate Oklahoma City into the same discussion.
Or Nick Young clears his throat.
The Warriors may be a lot of things in 2017-18, but they are also the one team that can deliver an unexpected even if – if – they do the expected from Saturday to June. LeBron James is in front of them, and so is Donald Trump. Kerr’s health issues are not behind them. Young will say something wild to someone somewhere at some point, just because.
Golden State is heading into a season where anything can happen, from making a larger historical footprint if a third championship in four tries occur to the kind of social issues the Warriors not only handle but welcome.
The old talking points are not going away.
Durant unnecessarily exhuming his Thunder departure on Twitter a little more than a year after the fact, bashing his former coach Billy Donovan in particular, puts more flame into the Nov. 22 visit to OKC just when it seemed like the right time for everyone to move on.
Meanwhile, Kerr, while optimistic about his medical prognosis, is still dealing with problems that forced him to miss the start of 2015-16 and a large portion of the playoffs in 2017.
“I feel better,” Kerr said Friday as the Warriors held media day at their practice facility. “I’m not 100 percent, but I’m on a good path and I’m confident that I will be 100 percent at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later. It’s been a long odyssey, as you guys well know, and not easy. But I’m lucky to have support of not only the players, Bob (Myers, the general manager) and Joe (Lacob, the owner). Everybody’s constantly so supportive. I’m looking forward to the season. I’m excited. I think it’s going to go smoothly. I think I’ll be fine. But who knows. As Vin Scully once said, ‘We’re all day-to-day.’ ”
The decision whether to make the traditional champion’s White House visit or skip to protest President Trump will come, probably soon, when the Warriors meet behind closed doors. The two biggest names, Stephen Curry and Durant, both reaffirmed Friday past statements that they do not want to go.
“We’re going to have a discussion,” said Draymond Green, one of the emotional leaders in the locker room. “We’re pretty much going to take the temperature of everyone. We’re going to decide whatever is best – whatever we think is best for us. It may not be the popular thing to do, the most popular thing, whatever we decide. But at the end of the day, we are the ones that have to attend, if we decide to attend. I think it’s only right that we all decide together. It’s not one person’s choice. It’s not two people. It’s got to be between all of us and we’ll come up with a decision and go from there.”
Said Curry: “We want to respect the opportunity that we have and to represent not only ourselves and our needs but our organization because we’re obviously in this position because we won a championship. We did something special together, so for us to just really take the time to understand the magnitude of this decision and the right thing to do and the right way to go about it is important. We will respect that as we have this conversation, whatever happens the next couple weeks. When that message comes out and the actual decision of what we’re going to do, we’ll have a better explanation at that point.”
The season can be unique in NBA history, not boring. Durant and the Thunder, Kerr and his health, the Warriors and Trump, Young and his Swaggy P-ness – and they didn’t even have a practice yet. Imagine the possibilities for the unpredictable still to come.
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