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The turnaround has taken place. The total transformation might not be far away.
And if they want to be considered true title contenders, the Golden State Warriors will have to develop their promising young talent even more and show they can be consistent - and consistently healthy - for longer stretches.
That was the message from Warriors General Manager Bob Myers and coach Mark Jackson on Monday, when the brains behind the franchise's rapid renaissance pushed ahead to a promising offseason. After finishing two wins from the Western Conference finals, Golden State has gone from needing a complete makeover to a touch-up job.
"I think that sense of desperation has passed," Myers said. "I think that whereas when you're trying to do anything to get over the hump you do sometimes chase things that may be difficult to acquire. Whereas now, doesn't mean we're satisfied, it doesn't mean we think our work is through, but we can be prudent and patient with opportunities as they come along."
The Warriors went from a 23-43 record during the lockout-shortened season to a 47-35 team, earning the conference's sixth seed and dominating Denver in the first round of the playoffs. Mounting injuries eventually wore them down and the four-time champion San Antonio Spurs sent Golden State home in six games.
Myers, a former sports agent who was promoted from assistant general manager last year, had talked about building the team through the draft and trades when he first took over basketball operations. Simply put, the native of nearby Danville said his hometown team was just not an attractive place for free agents.
Now those days might be done.
"What's the best word to describe a 180?" he said. "People do enjoy watching this group of players play. They do enjoy watching our games on TV and seeing what the crowd brings. They do enjoy watching our coaches get the most out of the players we have. What does that say? Well, if you're a player in the NBA and you're witnessing all these things, it does make it a desirable place to go and be a part of."
The toughest challenge Myers and Jackson said they are facing is finding a way to improve the team without disrupting continuity and chemistry.
The entire starting lineup - Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee and Andrew Bogut - is signed through next season. Top reserve Brandon Rush, out since tearing a ligament in his left knee in the home opener, will be back. Rookie reserves Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli and Kent Bazemore along with veterans Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins - and their hefty expiring contracts - also are among those signed.
"I don't want to overreact because we had a great year. I want to build on it," Jackson said. "This is a great offseason to challenge every one of them to come back better. And I'm excited about it. I have no problem coming back with the same group, but this is truly a business."
(China Daily 05/22/2013 page22)