The Golden State Warriors began their pre-season with a 96-87 win against the Washington Wizards in Saitama, Japan thanks to an impressive showing from James Wiseman.

A sold-out Saitama Super Arena watched on as Wiseman top-scored with 20 points from almost 24 minutes on the court.

However, it was understandably Japan's own Rui Hachimura who garnered the most noise from an adoring crowd, registering 13 points for the Wizards and, like Wiseman, a game-high nine rebounds.

After the game, coach of the defending NBA champion Warriors Steve Kerr conceded it had not been the highest-quality contest due to it being so early in pre-season, but told reporters how pleased he was with Wiseman's performance.

"James has had a really good few days of practice," he said of the 21-year-old. "His understanding of spacing and defensive communication, being in the right place, he just has a much better sense of the NBA game now than he did a couple of years ago.

"He's been putting a ton of work in, last year despite injury, he was studying and watching tape and learning from our older guys, so I couldn't be happier for James."

Kerr referenced the "really good atmosphere" and also spoke about the adulation received by Washington's Hachimura, and the potential benefits for the NBA's global appeal as a result.

"You see how popular he is," he said. "When he spoke to the crowd they went crazy, and it was a great moment.

"The game has been a global one for a long time but the more international stars we can get, the more popular the game becomes in that particular player's country, so hopefully we'll have more and more players coming from Japan to the NBA.

"You can see it's a basketball-crazed country, people love it here and it's fun to be a part of."

A second game between the two teams in Saitama will be played on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo believes Stephen Curry is the best player in the world after inspiring the Golden State Warriors' NBA title triumph last season.

Curry won his fourth NBA title in June at the expense of the Boston Celtics, taking the series 4-2.

Superstar guard Curry won the NBA Finals MVP after averaging 31.2 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in the six games.

The 34-year-old became only the seventh player to win at least four NBA titles and win two MVP awards, a feat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan have also achieved.

Antetokounmpo claimed the title and was Finals MVP for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021, but says Curry is now the best on the planet despite Nikola Jokic winning the 2021 and 2022 NBA MVP awards.

He said during a Bucks media day: "I think the best player in the world is the person that is the last man standing.

"It's the person that takes his team to the Finals, the finish line and helps them win the game. - that's how I view it. I believe the best player in the world is Steph Curry."

Antetokounmpo says no individual awards can match the feeling of winning the NBA title.

"The feeling I felt, it was a nice feeling," he said. "I got jealous of Golden State, seeing them in the parade and the ESPYs. You know that feeling now. You know what is getting stripped away from you."

Stephen Curry says he spoke to Adam Silver about Robert Sarver's punishment and is pleased with the sanctions imposed on the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner.

The NBA suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10million after an investigation questioned 320 people over allegations about his behaviour during his 18 years with the Suns.

Sarver last week announced that he intends to sell up after he was found him to have engaged in racist and sexist conduct.

Golden State Warriors superstar Curry revealed he contacted NBA commissioner Silver about the issue and has given his backing to the outcome.

He said during a Warriors media day: "[I] got [Silver's] point of view of what decisions and, I guess, mechanisms he had to intervene and bring down a punishment that was worthy of the actions that we were all responding to and representing the league as a whole and protecting the integrity of the league and the standard that we set terms of from execs, ownership, all the way down to players.

"There should be a standard around what's tolerable and what's not."

Curry added: "I think the outcome was exactly what should have happened.

"Honestly, I thought with the punishment that was handed down, it would have dragged out a little longer, but I'm glad we got to a point where hopefully the team is up for sale sooner than later and can kind of move on knowing that's where it should be."

 

 

Andre Iguodala will be putting off retirement for another year after announcing he will return to the Golden State Warriors for a 19th NBA season.

Iguodala, who will turn 39 in January, revealed his decision on Friday on the Point Forward podcast he hosts with former player Evan Turner, adding that the 2022-23 season will be his final one.

Iguodala won the fourth NBA championship of his career when the Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics in six games in the NBA Finals in June.

He admitted he was leaning towards retirement during the summer before being convinced by Stephen Curry and several other members of the Golden State organisation to return for one more season.

"I'm letting you know, Steph, this is the last one," Iguodala stated in reference to Warriors superstar Curry.

"I'm gonna blame a few people," he also joked. "Steph Curry is one person I'm gonna blame. As a group I'm blaming Draymond [Green], Steph and Klay [Thompson], [head coach] Steve Kerr a little bit and [general manager] Bob Myers.

"They just really showed me a lot of love. They really helped me see my presence outside of physically playing basketball, but also Steve was a big culprit in terms of 'listen, we really need you on the court'."

Iguodala, a 2011-12 All-Star and the MVP of the 2015 NBA Finals, played in just 31 games last season while averaging 4.0 points and 3.7 rebounds, and was used sparingly during Golden State's postseason run to the franchise's fourth title in eight years.

The Warriors still value the two-time NBA All-Defensive Team member for his contributions on that side of the ball, however, as well as his leadership and influence on the team's younger players.

Iguodala returned for a second stint with the Warriors by signing a one-year contract in August 2021. He previously spent six seasons with the franchise from 2013-19 before a two-year run with the Miami Heat.

"I came back last year to make sure we got this right, like 'we not gonna waste Steph's years'," Iguodala remarked. "We won the [championship] and I was like, 'alright.' And [Curry] was like, 'nope, I need you back for another one'."

Iguodala broke into the NBA as a first-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2004 and has averaged 11.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists over 1,223 regular-season games.

Stephen Curry has revealed the Golden State Warriors discussed the possibility of re-signing Kevin Durant – a move their superstar point guard would have welcomed.

Durant appeared set to be on the move this offseason after requesting a trade away from the Brooklyn Nets.

The former NBA MVP joined the Nets after leaving the Warriors in 2019, where he had spent three seasons playing alongside Curry, reaching the Finals in each year and winning two titles and two Finals MVP awards.

Curry and Durant won 131 of the 168 regular season games they played together (78.0 per cent), so it was perhaps no surprise the idea of a reunion appealed to the Golden State stalwart.

Ultimately, the Nets announced they had "agreed to move forward with our partnership" with Durant, but Curry has detailed his thought-process as the saga played out.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, conducted in August for the October issue, Curry said: "There was a conversation internally amongst us about, 'If he was available, would you?'

"Every team has those conversations, and obviously in our situation, they're going to call me and ask me, 'How do you feel about it?'

"I was never hesitant. The idea of playing with KD and knowing who he is as a person, from our history in those three years, I think KD's a really good dude.

"I think he is misunderstood. I think he has had certain things happen in his life that hurt his ability to trust people around him, in a sense of making him feel safe at all times.

"So all of those things I understand, having played with him and gotten to know him. I love that dude.

"And if you said, 'Oh, KD's coming back, and we're going to play with him'... I had so much fun playing with him those three years, I'd be like, 'hell, yeah!'

"Then you have to think: what does that actually mean? What does it look like? You tell me I'm playing with [Warriors team-mates Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Draymond Green], I'm like, 'hell, yeah!'

"There's all types of emotion and things that happen to the league. And if anybody's saying that you wouldn't entertain that conversation... no disrespect to anybody on our team, but you don't know how things work.

"But you also understand, if we run this thing back, I've got complete confidence in my team that we can win it again, as constructed.

"So, all those things were true. And it started with me wanting to play with KD at the beginning.

"Yeah, it's about winning, it's about having fun, playing the game of basketball. And that was part of the reaction of, 'yeah, it'd be amazing'... what does that actually mean?"

Jurgen Klopp jokingly ordered his Liverpool players to pay him as much attention as they paid Steve Kerr when the Golden State Warriors coach visited the Reds' training ground.

Kerr won five NBA championships as a player and has been crowned a winner four times as a coach, with the Warriors defeating the Boston Celtics to claim victory in the 2022 NBA Finals.

The American also guided Golden State to 73 wins in the 2015-16 season, breaking the record for the most wins in an NBA campaign.

Kerr took the chance to visit Liverpool's Kirkby base during his off-season, meeting the players and coaching staff after he watched over their training session.

While coaching methods and man-management styles may have been expected to be discussed, Klopp revealed no such conversations took place between the two top bosses.

"We didn't have this kind of conversation, to be honest," Klopp said, when asked if there was a coaching element to their talks. "We had a very private conversation."

Klopp's players, who play Newcastle United on Wednesday, were so awestruck in the presence of Kerr that their German boss hoped they could show as much interest when he addresses them.

"A fantastic guy. It was a pleasure to meet him," Klopp said. "I took a picture when he spoke to a couple of the players and said to the boys, 'If you looked one time as concentrated when I talk to you, it would be really cool'.

"I told him what we were doing. The training grounds for football and basketball look slightly different and he liked everything that he saw.

"The one moment I was really, really happy I didn't become a basketball coach was when he said he has to do press every day. Wow. That would be a killer. But he has a four-month break."

Klopp added: "He is one of the greatest in the game – absolutely outstanding. You can be seen as big as you want in public. Smart people stay still, are very grounded and are just good people. It was a real pleasure to meet them."

The NBA has fined Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob $500,000 for recent comments made on a podcast that violate the league’s rules on discussing collective bargaining, ESPN reported Wednesday.

While making an appearance on the Point Forward Podcast, hosted by Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner, Lacob called the NBA’s luxury tax structure "very unfair", lamenting the extra costs of having the league’s highest payroll.

This past season, the Warriors paid Stephen Curry $48million, Klay Thompson $40m, Andrew Wiggins $33m, Draymond Green $25m, and former second overall pick James Wiseman $9m, totalling $155m from just five of their 15 roster spots. The NBA's 'soft cap' – meaning the salary cap that can be exceeded to re-sign a team's current players – was set at $112m for 2021-22, and will rise to $122m for the upcoming season.

"The truth is, we're only $40 million more than the luxury tax. Now, that's not small but it's not a massive number," Lacob said. "We're $200 million over in total because most of that is this incredible penal luxury tax. And what I consider to be unfair and I'm going to say it on this podcast, and I hope it gets back to whoever is listening.

"Obviously, it's self-serving for me to say this, but I think it's a very unfair system because our team is built by... all [of our] top eight players are all drafted by this team."

Lacob said that some have classified the Warriors’ 2022 championship a "checkbook win."

According to ESPN, the Warriors paid $69 million in luxury tax in 2020-21, $170 million in 2021-22 and are projected to pay $181 million in 2022-23.

Andrew Wiggins became an NBA champion and All-Star in the 2021-22 season, but he has revealed he regrets getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

The 27-year-old small forward took his game to a new level last season, helping the Golden State Warriors win the NBA title.

Wiggins averaged 17.2 points with a career-best three-point percentage of 39.3 per cent along with 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in the 2021-22 season. He was a key contributor during the playoffs too, averaging 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

But the 2014 NBA Draft top pick reflected on his prolonged decision to get vaccinated on the eve of the season. The situation threatened to evolve similarly to Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, who saw his season sidetracked.

"I still wish I didn't get [vaccinated], to be honest with you," Wiggins told FanSided.

"I did it, and I was an All-Star this year and champion, so that was the good part, just not missing out on the year, the best year of my career.

"But for my body, I just don't like putting all that stuff in my body, so I didn't like that and I didn't like that it wasn't my choice. I didn't like that it was either get this or don't play."

Sacramento Kings rookie Keegan Murray showed exactly why he was a top-five pick in last month's NBA Draft in his side's 82-69 win against the Phoenix Suns on Friday at the Las Vegas Summer League.

Murray, the fourth overall pick, was efficient in all areas, shooting eight-of-14 from the field and four-of-eight from long range for his 21 points and 10 rebounds in just 23 minutes.

He also had zero turnovers, one blocked shot and posted a game-high plus/minus of plus 21, meaning that despite the win, the Kings were outscored by eight points while he was on the bench.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder showed their depth of young talent by defeating the Golden State Warriors 90-82 despite second overall pick Chet Holmgren and second-year star Josh Giddey both sitting out.

The Thunder had six players score in double-figures, including 12th pick Jalen Williams, who had 10 points and six assists, but the top prospects in the game were on the Warriors' side.

Second-year wing Jonathan Kuminga top-scored for the Warriors yet again, but only shot five-of-15 for his 16 points, although he did show improved playmaking with five assists and two turnovers.

There were promising signs for center James Wiseman as well, scoring 14 points on four-of-six shooting, hitting the only three-pointer he attempted while also grabbing seven rebounds and blocking a shot in 21 productive minutes.

Wiseman did not play a single game in the 2021-22 season due to persistent injuries, but the second overall pick from the 2020 draft projects to have a significant role for the reigning champions.

Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman made an encouraging return to competitive action on Sunday as his side defeated the San Antonio Spurs 86-85 at the Las Vegas Summer League.

Warriors fans did not have to wait long to see the number two overall pick from the 2020 NBA Draft make an impact, scoring the first points of the game when he got on the receiving end of a big alley-oop from Jonathan Kuminga 15 seconds into the contest.

Wiseman then blocked the Spurs' first shot attempt, gathered the rebound, and hit his first three-point attempt less than a minute later.

He had five points and two blocks in his first five-minute stint, and that would end up being his best stretch of play, with turnovers and fouls plaguing the rest of his game as he re-adjusted to the speed of NBA action.

Wiseman finished with 11 points on five-of-seven shooting, hitting the only three-pointer he attempted, but he also had seven personal fouls, three turnovers and only two rebounds in his 20 minutes, showing flaws that will hurt his chances of getting on the floor with the Warriors' real team if he can not clean it up.

Second-year Warrior Jonathan Kuminga was impressive, albeit inefficient, in a vastly expanded role. 

As his side's top offensive option, he scored a team-high 28 points with seven rebounds and four assists, but he shot 10-of-22 from the field, and had even worse showings from long range (one-of-seven) and the free throw line (seven-of-18). He also committed five turnovers and five fouls in 26 minutes.

The Spurs almost ended up pulling out the win after two clutch three-pointers from Blake Wesley – the 25th pick from this year's draft – that turned a 81-79 deficit with 1:30 to play into a 85-81 lead less than 30 seconds later. Wesley finished with a team-high 22 points on seven-of-20 shooting, hitting four-of-seven from three-point range.

Golden State Warriors big man James Wiseman is set to make his return from a torn right meniscus on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs in the Las Vegas Summer League. 

Wiseman missed the entire 2021-22 season while recovering from the injury and had a plasma-rich injection in April to promote healing in the knee. He was cleared for full-contact workouts recently and is ready to engage in a competitive atmosphere.  

Selected with the second overall pick in the 2020 draft, Wiseman averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 51.9 percent from the floor in 39 games as a rookie.  

He provides a strong defensive presence and could slot into a starting role next season or at least provide valuable depth for the defending NBA champions if healthy.  

"I cannot wait to go out there and just play the game of basketball again. I’ve been through a lot of tough times," Wiseman said.

Without the 7-foot-1 Wiseman last season, Golden State used six-foot-nine Kevon Looney and six-foot-six Draymond Green at center, but Wiseman brings a level of vertical spacing and athleticism that is unique to the Warriors roster, making him a big part of their plans going forward.  

The Golden State Warriors have signed free agent Donte DiVincenzo to a two-year, $9.3million deal – with the second year being a player option.

DiVincenzo, 25, was a first-round draft pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018 after winning his second NCAA Championship on the same Villanova team as Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson, earning the Final Four's Most Valuable Player in the 2018 title.

He found a role immediately with the Bucks, and went on to start in all 66 of his regular season appearances in their championship season in 2021, before getting injured in the first round of the playoffs.

In that season, he averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 38 per cent from long range, proving himself as a strong complementary piece that can provide above average wing play on both ends of the floor.

During the Bucks' championship run, Pat Connaughton usurped DiVincenzo's role, with Milwaukee opting to trade him just two months after he returned from his six-month injury layoff.

While he was never able to truly fit in with the Sacramento Kings after arriving mid-season, he still averaged 18 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.7 steals per 100 possessions in his 25 games off the bench – all career-high marks.

For the Warriors, DiVincenzo figures to fill important minutes after the departures of both Gary Payton II to the Portland Trail Blazers and Otto Porter Jr to the Toronto Raptors.

The Golden State Warriors have retained a key member of their NBA championship team by agreeing to a three-year, $25.5million contract with forward Kevon Looney, ESPN reported on Friday.

A first-round pick of the Warriors in 2015, Looney started a career-high 80 regular-season games in 2021-22 and emerged as a valuable complementary contributor to Golden State's fourth NBA title in eight years.

The 26-year-old averaged just 6.0 points per game during the regular season but was among the Warriors' top rebounders at 7.3 per game while providing a strong interior defensive presence.

Looney also chipped in a couple of standout performances during Golden State's title run. The seven-year veteran grabbed 22 rebounds – one short of a franchise single-game postseason record – in a series-clinching Game 6 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round, then later amassed 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting along with 12 boards in a Game 2 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

Keeping Looney was a top priority for the Warriors, who will be losing two other important rotation players in free agency in forward Otto Porter Jr. and guard Gary Payton II.

Porter agreed to a two-year contract with the Toronto Raptors, according to Yahoo Sports, while The Athletic reports that Payton will sign a three-year, $28 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

To echo Kevin Durant's thoughts during Thursday's 2022 NBA Draft, it is a wing's league as size, length and shooting proved desirable for front offices, with the Orlando Magic taking Paolo Banchero first. 

The NBA's stylistic pivot towards skill and versatility since the introduction of the defensive three-second rule has necessitated the recruitment of more skilled and flexible players on both ends.

Banchero serves as an apt first selection in this respect - a 6-foot-9 forward with the ability to create his own shot and make decisions with the ball in his hands, as well the versatility to switch on the defensive end.

From the likes of Mario Hezonja to Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac, the Magic have had a predisposition towards rangy forwards who struggle to stretch the floor in recent years, though. Whether Banchero can improve on his outside shooting could again prove definitive in their rebuild.

The Duke freshman averaged 17.2 points per game but connected on 33.8 per cent of shots from three-point range, with their elimination in the Final Four characterised by defenders sagging off him.

A slight improvement at NBA level would be needed in this respect, to force close-outs and help maximise his ability to get to the basket.

Size and shooting are the primary characteristics for others in the lottery however, with Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr. the other standouts in this year's draft class.

The 7-foot-1 Holmgren has reportedly set a goal of achieving 50/40/90 shooting splits in the NBA, which previously would have been unheard for someone his size.

Meanwhile, the 6-foot-10 Smith presents a similar spacing threat for his size, with ability to quickly get shots up off the catch or when putting the ball on the floor.

Eight of the top ten picks were within the 6-foot-5 to 6-foot-10 range, before even considering the added dynamics of wingspan on the defensive end.

Shooting took over as the most sought-after skill in the late stages of the first round and early parts of the second, with the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat respectively going for Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Nikola Jovic.

TyTy Washington is yet another example of the value placed in shooting and skill for the Houston Rockets, seemingly seeking their own answer to the Philadelphia 76ers' Tyrese Maxey.

 

2022 NBA Draft first-round picks

1. Orlando Magic - Paolo Banchero (Duke)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder - Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)
3. Houston Rockets - Jabari Smith (Auburn)
4. Sacramento Kings - Keegan Murray (Iowa)
5. Detroit Pistons - Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
6. Indiana Pacers - Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)
7. Portland Trail Blazers - Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky)
8. New Orleans Pelicans - Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite)
9. San Antonio Spurs - Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)
10. Washington Wizards - Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)
11. Oklahoma City Thunder - Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand)
12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Jalen Williams (Santa Clara)
13. Detroit Pistons - Jalen Duren (Memphis)
14. Cleveland Cavaliers - Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)
15. Charlotte Hornets - Mark Williams (Duke)
16. Atlanta Hawks - AJ Griffin (Duke)
17. Houston Rockets - Tari Eason (LSU)
18. Chicago Bulls - Dalen Terry (Arizona)
19. Memphis Grizzlies - Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest)
20. San Antonio Spurs - Malaki Branham (Ohio State)
21. Denver Nuggets - Christian Braun (Kansas)
22. Minnesota Timberwolves - Walker Kessler (Auburn)
23. Memphis Grizzlies - David Roddy (Colorado State)
24. Milwaukee Bucks - MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite)
25. San Antonio Spurs - Blake Wesley (Notre Dame)
26. Dallas Mavericks - Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke)
27. Miami Heat - Nikola Jovic (Serbia)
28. Golden State Warriors - Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee)
29. Houston Rockets - TyTy Washington Jr. (Kentucky)
30. Denver Nuggets - Peyton Watson (UCLA)

Fresh off their fourth NBA championship in eight seasons, the Golden State Warriors are planning to continue that run of success by bringing all their players back for a run at yet another title. 

Championship teams rarely return exactly the same roster the following season and payroll issues need to be considered, but Warriors general manager Bob Myers would like to see the same team on the floor in 2022-23.  

With seven free agents and the team already $24.6 million over the tax, Golden State has plenty of work to do this offseason.  

The unrestricted free agents are Kevon Looney, Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Andre Iguodala, Damion Lee, Gary Payton II and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Looney, Porter and Payton are the key pieces of that group, with Iguodala possibly retiring. 

"Our goal, our hope is to bring all those guys back and try to do it again," Myers said. "They were all great in different ways and all fill different needs for us. A lot of our free agents had big moments in the NBA Finals, which means they’re pretty important."

Also on Myers’ extensive to-do list is contract extensions for Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, though they might not be settled for a while. Poole had a breakout third season with 18.5 points per game and is up for a rookie extension. Wiggins, meanwhile, is entering the final year of his five-year contract from the Minnesota Timberwolves.  

"All these negotiations take on a life of their own," Myers said. "They’re all different. But I know with a guy like Jordan, usually, those things come down to kind of training camp and end-of-the-line deadline. We’re a long way from figuring out what Andrew wants, but I do know what we want. We want to keep him, and we’re going to make every effort to keep both those guys. They were huge for us."

One key contributor that is sure to be back for the Warriors is assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, who backed out of the head coaching position with the Charlotte Hornets to stay with Golden State.  

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