STATELINE, Nev. — Once Steph Curry rolled in a 15-foot eagle putt to cap Thursday’s practice round at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament, it was time to talk at length for the first time about the Warriors’ offseason overhaul.
And there was a lot to cover about the state of the Warriors a month after falling in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors have bid farewell to Kevin Duran (Brooklyn Nets), Andre Iguodala (Memphis), Shaun Livingston (waived), DeMarcus Cousins (Los Angeles Lakers), Quinn Cook (Lakers), Jordan Bell (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Damian Jones (Atlanta Hawks).
Rather than dwell on those departures, Curry emphasized how proud he was of their accomplishments, especially his three-year run with Durant. Curry also previewed what it will be like to have D’Angelo Russell join the backcourt and how the Warriors face an incredibly tough test if they’re to win their sixth straight Western Conference title.
Here are the basketball-related exchange Curry had with the media at Edgewood Tahoe, where he’s looking to win (15-to-1 odds) after tying for 11th last year and placing fourth in 2017:
Where do you see the Warriors style of play going?
“It will develop as we get together as a group. A lot of changes. It’s a tough way to end the Finals with K.D. and Klay getting injured, and obviously free agency. For us, our core, myself, Klay (Thompson), Draymond (Green), adding D’Angelo and a lot of hungry, young guys trying to prove themselves in the league, it’ll look different in terms of the lineups and things like that, but the expectations of how we play, that championship-caliber basketball, that for us will always be the motivation and the challenge.
“I’m excited, to be honest with you. Five straight years in the Finals and we’ve accomplished a lot, and three championships. There’s a lot to be proud of. But everybody wants a new challenge in terms of how do you get back to that level.”
How do you feel about Kevin Durant signing with Brooklyn and not re-signing with Golden State?
“I mean, the three years that we had were special. With K.D., we had three straight Finals appearances. We won two of them, and we accomplished a lot as a group. Everybody talks about the amount of talent that we had on our team, but that doesn’t guarantee that you can figure out on the court that you can put all the pieces together to be successful. I’m really proud of what we accomplished.
“The beauty of free agency is everybody has a decision, everybody has a choice. You want to find your happiness wherever that is. The beauty of the NBA is everybody has that decision at some point, especially guys that deserve it, like K and other top free agents. I like to look at what we accomplished and focus on that and be extremely proud of this run that we had. Now we are going to have to recreate it in terms of what it means going forward.”
What will it be without Andre Iguodala, the so-called “adult in the room?”
“I’m the oldest on the team now, so I’m going to have to step my game up. It’s a tough business. That’s part of it. We knew at some point or another, whether it was this year or next year or the year after, there were going to be some hard decisions, some hard changes.
“You talk about Andre and Shaun, two guys that do things the right way, having the ultimate level of professionalism and leadership, and just have a presence when they walk in the room, that makes them who they are, three-time champs, both of them. They have a lot left in the tank. So it’s going to be fun, going to be hard to watch them on other teams. But look at all that we accomplished and those are things we’ll remember for a life time.
“Andre is out here playing golf. I’ll miss him on the court, but I’m going to miss being on road trips and calling him, ‘Yo, when’s our tee time?’ ”
Did the free agency changes catch you off-guard in terms of what the Warriors did, and when you look at the league, especially the Western Conference with the Clippers and Lakers, how do you size it up?
“There’s a lot of change, and it’s like this every summer, just now it’s with the biggest names in the game. The West is always tough. It’s been that way since we started this Finals run back in 2015, and I think it’s going to continue.
“In terms of what we did this summer, I’m really proud of our front office trying to put the pieces together and filling out the roster with talented guys that are going to be hungry to prove themselves in the league and obviously D’Angelo with the year he had last year. We’re all going to figure it out together. It’s going to be an adjustment.
“We talked about this when Coach Kerr took over back in 2015. We had proven success in terms of being a playoff team and just had to fine tune it a little bit. Now that we’re champions and experienced that, it’s just about fine tuning with the personnel that you have. We have a high basketball IQ so I’m confident we’ll figure it out.”
What is your history with D’Angelo Russell and what do you expect the dynamic to be?
“The noise he made last year was amazing, what they did in Brooklyn and him taking the next step as a certified all-star. I haven’t had much personal interaction with him, on or off the court other than playing against each other. Back when he was drafted, there were some comparisons of our game, how smooth he played, he can shoot, he can pass. Having a guy versatile like that only helps your team.
“The chemistry will develop quickly. We’ll be really purposeful about that and try to set the tone how we’ll play this year. It’s about encouraging each other and having confidence that we’ll bring the best out of each other. Then when Klay gets back as well, we’ll add him to the backcourt mix. It’s going to be fun.
How is your golf partner on the road now that Andre is gone?
“Klay still plays but obviously he’s going to be out for a minute. I’m going to have to introduce a lot of guys to the game. I’ll get a bunch of clubs on the plane and say, ‘Hey, it’s team bonding time. Let’s go out and play.’ “