• In this nasty business of writing about two teams — one the winner and one the loser — it’s hard to convey reasons why one team won and one team lost without diminishing the greatness of the losing squad.

    The Warriors flirted with being history’s greatest team, possessing unworldly gifts and a flair for the dramatic to go with those record-breaking 73 wins.

    But the warning signs were there.  The Blazers played them tough and the Warriors just sort of did their thing and we wrote it off as being related to Curry’s knee injury, the rust and the assimilation period.

    Then Oklahoma City showed up to an increasingly quiet Oracle Arena and punched them in the mouth in a game they ultimately lost.  The Thunder appeared to have more athleticism and more importantly it looked like they held a god key, being able to switch everything the Warriors ran and hang tough.

    The Warriors ran their normal stuff with their normal lineups and found themselves in a 3-1 hole.  Draymond Green was in the crosshairs as he continually lost his cool, and the Warriors looked somewhat shook.  Steve Kerr was no longer being lauded for his lineup decisions and adjustments.  Kerr and his players constantly got caught up in the refereeing.  They escaped against the Thunder and again — we wrote their problems off and declared them the prohibitive favorites in the Finals.

    Across the court stood a Cavs team with no answers for the superior roster that the Warriors have.

    Kevin Love would be rendered a non-factor because he isn’t a great fit for the series any way one slices it.  Draymond Green, who ran into multiple Thunder players that matched up well with him, was now in a series in which he could flourish.  Tristan Thompson wouldn’t be able to handle the Warriors’ switches on the perimeter, let alone Love, and players like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes would make J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Richard Jefferson look silly.  Kyrie Irving would be blanketed by Klay and Curry would not be covered by anybody that the Cavs could throw at him.

    Early on it appeared that way.

    But as the Warriors were putting the finishing touches on Cleveland in Game 4, and LeBron and Draymond ignored crunch-time action to have a war of words, it became clear that Green had once again struck the family jewels in a dirty manner.  As it sunk in that he wasn’t going to get another pass and a suspension was on the way, the cumulative effect of the Warriors’ journey to that point finally set in.

    Draymond, for all of his positives, didn’t care if he was more valuable to the team than his ego was to himself.  The Cavs, who had seen LeBron misplace his jumpshot and most of their players lose their confidence, suddenly felt like they were playing with house money.

    Get a win in Game 5 with no Draymond. Come home. Get a win in Game 6 and now we’re on to something.

    Playing at their best now, the Cavs were locked in and like the Thunder did before them, they decided to switch almost everything and take away what the Warriors do best in their flow offense.  And just like the Warriors did for the duration of these playoffs, they kept running their normal stuff and tried to do things their way.  Steve Kerr continued to use lineups that clearly didn’t work, in particular with Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao — and continued to demand that the Warriors move the ball rather than isolate their best players in winning matchups.

    They wanted to play the Warriors way.  The way that got them to 73 wins.  As if changing would somehow invalidate their stranglehold on greatness.

    Maybe they set themselves up for it by aiming for the title of ‘best ever.’  Maybe the egos of the players involved wouldn’t allow for them to hunker down, take good shots and find winning matchups.  Maybe they were too caught up in the refereeing and the ‘us against the world’ mentality that can be both empowering and intoxicating.  Maybe they simply did not know how to change.

    Ultimately we all believe in ourselves and the things that we do and we do so at our own peril.  It’s when we test those beliefs that we truly become the best that we can be.  The Warriors have all summer to do exactly that.

Fantasy News

  • Luke Kornet
    PF-C, Chicago Bulls

    The Bulls have officially announced the signings of Luke Kornet and Shaquille Harrison.

    Kornet can provide threes and blocks as a backup big for the Bulls. He is currently behind Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young and Wendell Carter Jr. but may be able to carve out some minutes for deep-league owners. Harrison will be fighting for minutes with the Bulls' plethora of point guards at the moment. If he can find some minutes during the season, he can be a source of steals as a player to stream or for deep leagues.

    Source: Bulls.com

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Raptors.

    Hollis-Jefferson's deal was originally reported as a minimum contract however it is now a $2.5 million contract which comes out of the Raptors' non-taxpayer mid-level. He will likely play some minutes behind Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. He is capable of defending multiple positions and might be able to provide some deep-league value in rebounds, steals and blocks.

    Source: Jeff Siegel on Twitter

  • Mike Muscala
    PF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Mike Muscala has signed with the Thunder on a two-year, $4.31 million deal with a player option.

    Muscala could step in with the Thunder to be their stretch four behind Danilo Gallinari or back up Steven Adams. He could potentially earn some minutes especially with Jeremi Grant no longer on the team. He averaged around 20 mpg in his last two seasons with the Lakers and Hawks, providing threes and blocks that were useful to deep-league owners.

    Source: OKC Thunder Wire

  • Russell Westbrook
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Mike D'Antoni "would be disappointed" if Russell Westbrook didn't improve his 3-point percentage this season.

    D'Antoni added, "I think we can do that. I think that just by knowing that that's kind of how we play and him having the green light to (shoot) and not worry about it." Westbrook shot just 29.0 percent from deep last season and has been under 30.0 percent in four of his last five campaigns, so there is definite room for improvement. It's possible that Westbrook will find more catch-and-shoot looks available next to James Harden, and moving away from pull-up threes could help him improve his efficiency, but we won't be able to tell for sure until we see the duo take the court in preseason. Improving his deep shooting would definitely help, but there are serious questions about the rest of Westbrook's stat set. Rebounds and assists may not be as available in a system that isn't specifically tailored to him, and free throws and turnovers still look like problem areas. It's not a bad on-court fit but Westbrook seems unlikely to return to his former top-30 glory.

    Source: Salman Ali on Twitter

  • J.J. Barea
    PG, Dallas Mavericks

    J.J. Barea (torn right Achilles) will be cautious in his recovery and will not play for Puerto Rico at the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

    Barea expects to be ready for September's training camp but has decided that rushing back to play high-level international hoops would be a step too far. The tournament opens less than eight months after Barea sustained the injury, and he will instead focus his attention on getting ready for another season in Dallas. With the additions of Delon Wright and Seth Curry, it's unlikely that Barea plays enough to be worth your time in fantasy.

    Source: Tim MacMahon on Twitter

  • Matt Thomas
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    The Raptors have officially signed shooting guard Matt Thomas.

    Thomas will join the Raptors on a three-year deal after emerging as one of Europe's top shooters with Valencia last season. The Iowa State product hit 48.5 percent of his 3-pointers last season and is at a clean 47 percent in his two seasons in Spain. He should factor into the shooting guard rotation with Danny Green gone and is someone to monitor in deeper formats for his 3-point potential.

    Source: Toronto Raptors

  • Tyson Chandler
    C, Houston Rockets

    The Rockets have announced the signing of Tyson Chandler.

    Chandler is looking like the backup to Clint Capela and could be called on more in certain matchups, though he doesn't figure to play enough to support any worthwhile fantasy value. It's possible that Chandler holds appeal in deeper leagues as a rebounding specialist but that should be about it.

    Source: Houston Rockets

  • Kostas Antetokounmpo
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    The Raptors are planning to claim Kostas Antetokounmpo off waivers, per Eurohoops' Nikos Varlas.

    Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports that the Raptors were interested in adding Antetokounmpo last season, but had their plans dashed when Dallas took Antetokounmpo with the final pick in the draft. He's incredibly raw still, but has the physical build that the Raptors seem to love in their developmental projects.

    Source: Nikos Varlas on Twitter

  • B.J. Johnson
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings have waived B.J. Johnson.

    Johnson had a decent showing in Summer League but never seemed likely to last in Sacramento given the team's depth at forward. After making seven appearances on a pair of 10-day contracts with the Hawks last season, Johnson will look to find more concrete footing in the league this season.

    Source: Jason Jones on Twitter

  • Kostas Antetokounmpo
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    The Mavs have waived Kostas Antetokounmpo, per Shams Charania.

    The youngest Antetokounmpo was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2018 draft but only appeared in two games with the Mavs last season. Dallas opens up a two-way contract slot and will likely find a more NBA-ready player on the market, while Antetokounmpo will look to latch on with another team for camp. Perhaps the 21-year-old can make it a family affair, with both of his older brothers playing in Milwaukee.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter