Sunday, September 25, 2022

Warriors’ Steve Kerr sends a strong message about the breakout player’s weakness

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As the Warriors prepare to begin their 2022 NBA training camp, which will include a preseason trip to Tokyo next week, head coach Steve Kerr has been making the rounds with the league’s media. And in an appearance on the Real Ones podcast over at The Ringer, Kerr addressed an issue that could be crucial to the team’s near- and long-term development: the development of fourth-year guard Jordan Poole.

Poole, entering his fourth season, had a breakthrough last year, at least on offense. He averaged 18.5 points and 4.0 assists, which is 44.8% of his shots and 36.4% of his 3-pointers. He also shot a league-best 92.5% from the free throw line, setting career highs in all of those categories.

But, Kerr said, he still has a long way to go in one respect: his defense. And that will be a message the team will want to hammer home with Poole all season.

The guy who replaced Poole on the starting lineup last year, Klay Thompson, is one of the better two-way guards in the NBA, and Kerr wants Poole to follow in his footsteps.

“Jordan Poole took a leap last year and became a really high-profile player,” Kerr said. “His next step is to become a better two-way guy. He is a very dynamic offensive player. He’s a lot stronger and more athletic than I think people realize, maybe even more than he realizes. So can he become a two-way guy like Klay Thompson? That is his next step.”

Of course, one of the overarching issues for the Warriors heading into the season is the financial side, with Poole seeking an extension and Golden State exploring long-term contract options for Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green. All three can be free transfers next summer.

In the short term, however, Poole is paramount. There is a deadline of October 17 for the Warriors and Poole to negotiate an extension and if one is not reached he will be tied for the limited free hand next summer. It’s important to note that even if he becomes a restricted free agent, the Warriors can still accept any offer he receives.

Given the recent $107 million extension ($120 million with incentives) the Knicks granted guard RJ Barrett, who is considered a comparable player to Poole, expect a new deal for Poole in the same order of magnitude would land. But will the Warriors want to pay that much for a man who will likely remain a sixth man as long as Thompson and Wiggins are in town?

General manager Bob Myers addressed Poole’s situation during his media presence, saying that he has not yet sat down to negotiate a new deal for Poole and is expected to do so early next month.

“We’re going to meet with his representatives, I think, after Tokyo and we’re going to sit down for the first time and start this conversation and I think that’s about two weeks before the deadline for him,” Myers said. “I don’t know where that will lead. I know they want to meet and I know we want to meet and then we’ll see what the next two weeks bring us.”

Myers, who is himself a former NBA agent, said players tend to handle these negotiations differently — some will take the assurance of a good payday when it’s presented, others will want to walk out and have a great fourth season, forcing the team pay more the following summer.

“I was on the side while an agent, I would sit down with you and say you want to take $100 million or do you want to play it out?” Myers said. “It’s a decision we have a hard time imagining, but some players will say, I honestly don’t think it’s going to go well for me and I don’t want to play with being overwhelmed with it. And some will have the ultimate confidence to say, this means nothing to me, and I want to wait for what I think will be a bigger payday.

“It depends. It’s personal. When the money’s around, you know, if you put it near where people want it, they usually put it in my hands — after they’re on this one and that side have been.

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