Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he is hopeful the NBA will grant the eight teams that did not qualify for the 22-team Disney World bubble a chance to conduct a minicamp in advance of training camp before the 2020-21 season begins.
"The league has been great about working with us on potential minicamps," Kerr said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "We definitely need to get our team together for a period of time. I don't know for how long, but we definitely need to be together and have some practice sessions. Given that 22 of the teams are going to be allowed to do so for minimum of a couple weeks' practice and a couple weeks' games, while the rest of us are not part of that, the league is sensitive to giving us the space that we're going to need. So we're still in touch with the league about what that means.
"I think what I would like as a coach is a couple weeks of practice at least, maybe two different blocks of a couple of weeks where we can bring guys in, health permitting and regulations permitting, of course, given the virus, but if we could have a couple different blocks where our players could come in, work with our training staff, we get them on the court, almost like an OTA for an NFL team where we can install some things for next year, think about what we want to accomplish and get some practice sessions in. I think it would bridge the gap towards a more normal offseason and then lead us into next season in a healthier frame of mind."
The Warriors finished an injury-filled season with a league-worst 15-50 record, after five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. With the league set to resume next month in Orlando, Florida, Kerr said he hopes to keep his players fresh amid such a long break in the schedule. The NBA suspended play March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic, which means that if next season starts Dec. 1, as the league hopes, it will be almost nine months between games for the Warriors.
"That's one reason why I think it's important to mix in a couple of minicamps so that we can knock off some of that rust or staleness, whatever you want to call it," Kerr said. "But who are we to complain? We complained enough about not having any time off over the last five years, so we can't now turn around and say we've got too much time off, so we're just going to take advantage of what we can and use the rest and use the time wisely. I know that our players, whenever we come in to prepare for next season, our players are going to be rarin' to go. I think in the end, it will be a positive step no matter how this plays out."
Curry played in just five games this season after suffering a broken left hand in the team's fourth game. Green played in just 43 games due to a variety of nagging injuries. Thompson missed the entire season as he rehabbed a torn left ACL suffered in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
"Oh, yeah -- 100%," Kerr said when asked of the trio's participation. "I would not consider this voluntary workouts. Obviously, these are really unique circumstances, but given that we would be staring at a nine-month break, to be perfectly honest, I would be shocked if any one of those three guys said to me, 'No, I don't want the work.' They all know they need the work. And we all need the work, so they'll be there."
Kerr said he would be in favor of a minicamp over the possibility of a condensed summer league of the eight non-bubble teams. The possibility of extended practice time also would allow the Warriors to get new swingman Andrew Wiggins more acclimated with his star teammates. Wiggins was acquired just before the trade deadline along with a 2021 first-round pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a package centered around D'Angelo Russell.
"We're not interested in a summer league," Kerr said. "Now, we would be if there is maybe a more formal version of it after the draft. Sort of like the normal summer league, where we could maybe partner with a few teams nearby and have a few games with our young players and our rookies. We would be interested in something like that later on -- I guess the draft is in October, from what I understand -- but that's a different component to what we're discussing. If what we're talking about is some kind of minicamp and some of the other teams are interested in playing games, we would not be interested in doing that ... every team has its own unique set of circumstances, and I definitely understand that a lot of the teams involved are younger and more interested in getting game action for their players, but we're in a different space, and people understand that. So we'd be more interested in practice time."
As the Warriors wait to see what happens next, Kerr said he has enjoyed being able to get more involved in the organization's draft prep work. The Warriors will have a top pick and must decide whether they want to use it to select a player for their future or package it in a deal that makes them better in the present.
"It's the first time I've ever really been heavily involved, just because I haven't had the time," Kerr said. "It's been a lot of fun to watch these college games, international games. We've done a few Zoom interviews with players, as well. I'm enjoying the process. [President of basketball operations and general manager] Bob [Myers] does an amazing job of really taking his time and gathering information, not making rushes to judgment. Everybody wants to do a mock draft every single day. If the draft were today, who would you take first, what is your top five, what is your top 10? The thing I've learned from Bob is none of that matters. What matters is all the information that you can gather leading into the draft.
"That's my focus, is trying to resist the urge to just sort of make blanket observations and say I either like this guy or I don't. There's so much that goes into it. There's a lot of study, a lot of different dynamics."