War­riors set for another run

They are young and in great fi­nan­cial shape. Cava­liers look to build on this year and get healthy.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike Bres­na­han mike.bres­na­han@latimes.com Twit­ter: Mike_Bres­na­han

Re­match, any­body? The first four games of the NBA Fi­nals were fas­ci­nat­ing, not nec­es­sar­ily works of art but vastly en­ter­tain­ing as the teams forged a 2-2 tie and ABC con­tin­u­ally de­clared it a rat­ings bo­nanza.

Against the back­drop of two starv­ing fran­chises, ca­sual bas­ket­ball fol­low­ers gath­ered cu­ri­ously to watch whether LeBron James could win the ti­tle while play­ing oneon-five. He couldn’t. The Golden State War­riors took care of that Tues­day night, win­ning it all for the first time in 40 years, with a first-year coach and a light, fun of­fense fea­tur­ing enough free-fling­ing 20-some­things to spark a mini-revo­lu­tion as to how the game is played.

Build­ing upon a 67-win reg­u­lar sea­son and 16-5 play­off record, the War­riors seem set for another deep run next sea­son. Maybe the Cleve­land Cava­liers will join them again, health­ier at that. Just don’t ask James yet. “I haven’t thought about next sea­son,” he said mo­rosely af­ter Game 6. “At all.”

The War­riors’ cham­pi­onship pa­rade will be Fri­day, start­ing in down­town Oak­land and wind­ing along Lake Mer­ritt be­fore fin­ish­ing with a rally at the con­ven­tion cen­ter.

Cleve­land could get its first pa­rade next sea­son, as­sum­ing it takes care of some fi­nan­cial house­keep­ing over the next few weeks and doesn’t have plans to move out of the timid Eastern Con­fer­ence.

All-Star point guard Kyrie Irv­ing is un­der con­tract four more years. James has a player op­tion for next year and is ex­pected to de­cline it, then re­sign for another one-year deal. The key ques­tion is power for­ward Kevin Love. He had on-again, off-again con­ti­nu­ity with James and could be­come a free agent this month by de­clin­ing a player op­tion for $16.7 mil­lion next sea­son.

Love and Cleve­land seem to have a mu­tual in­ter­est in his long-term re­turn, and he can re-sign up to five more years. Or Love, 26, could opt in for next sea­son only, see how it goes and be­come a free agent as teams get f looded with cash as the league’s nine-year, $24-bil­lion TV deal kicks in next sum­mer.

Among the Cava­liers’ sup­port­ing cast, shoot­ing guard J.R. Smith holds a player op­tion for $6.4 mil­lion, the team owns an op­tion on cen­ter Ti­mofey Moz­gov, which it prob­a­bly will ex­er­cise for $4.95 mil­lion, and there are two re­stricted free agents — dou­ble­dou­ble big man threat Tris­tan Thompson and er­ratic guard Iman Shumpert. In­jured re- bound­ing ma­chine An­der­son Vare­jao has one more guar­an­teed year for $9.6 mil­lion.

Through a veil of melan­choly, James seemed ea­ger for another run with the same group.

“I think we put our­selves back where this fran­chise needs to be, be­ing a con­tender,” he said. “Did I win? I didn’t win a cham­pi­onship, but I’ve done a lot of good things in this first year back, and hope­fully I can con­tinue it.”

There were only smiles as the War­riors stood on the cel­e­bra­tory podium at cen­ter court of Quicken Loans Arena.

They are young and in great fi­nan­cial shape for years to come. Stephen Curry, 27, has two more sea­sons at a very af­ford­able $23.5 mil­lion to­tal. Fel­low All-Star Klay Thompson, 25, is un­der con­tract four more years. Fi­nals MVP An­dre Iguo­dala has two more years for al­most $23 mil­lion.

De­pend­able starter Har­ri­son Barnes, 23, has another year be­fore be­com­ing a re­stricted free agent, while im­por­tant role player Shaun Liv­ingston will be back next sea­son, pos­si­bly with over­paid big men An­drew Bogut and David Lee.

The key is Dray­mond Green, who made a bar­gain-like $915,000 this sea­son and now be­comes a re­stricted free agent. Pos­si­bly the NBA’s most ver­sa­tile player, Green, 25, can ex­pect a gen­er­ous fiveyear of­fer from the War­riors, if not a max deal. The 6-foot-7 for­ward, who started at cen­ter the last three Fi­nals games, was also run­ner-up for NBA de­fen­sive player of the year.

“We found a recipe for suc­cess, and that’s the most im­por­tant thing for us,” said Curry, the reg­u­lar-sea­son MVP. “Now that we have this un­der our belt, I think we can ac­tu­ally ap­pre­ci­ate what we were able to do this year from start to fin­ish. It’s hard in the mo­ment to re­ally un­der­stood what 67 [reg­u­lar-sea­son] wins means in the grand scheme of the history of the NBA, how hard that is. But then also to cap that off with a cham­pi­onship play­off run….”

Af­ter so many years be­tween bas­ket­ball ec­stasy, the War­riors fig­ure to be around a while de­spite lodg­ing in the rocky ter­rain of the Western Con­fer­ence. Steve Kerr will be back again, a cham­pion al­ready in his rookie sea­son as a coach, as will player agent-turned-Gen­eral Man­ager Bob My­ers.

“Bob My­ers and his staff have done an in­cred­i­ble job of putting to­gether this ros­ter,” Kerr said. “I was well aware of the ver­sa­til­ity that the ros­ter had, but as I got to know the play­ers I re­al­ized they had what it took spir­i­tu­ally, emo­tion­ally.”

Then he added the most im­por­tant trait.

“They wanted to win,” he said.

Mark Dun­can As­so­ci­ated Press Ben Mar­got As­so­ci­ated Press

CAVA­LIERS’ Kevin Love could be­come a free agent and War­riors’ Dray­mond Green could get a big raise.

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