Steve Kerr, Warriors Committed to Resting Veterans During Season Grind

OAKLAND -- After four years with a win-today mentality, Steve Kerr has made clear that this season will be one of gradual transference for the Warriors, with veterans taking youngsters by the hand and guiding them toward tomorrows.

Barely one week of training camp, we can see why.

Andre Iguodala, 34, missed a practice last week with a minor rib injury but quickly recovered.

Jonas Jerebko, 31, bruised his right knee in the preseason opener Saturday but says he'll get treatment and play through it.

Draymond Green is just 28, but his overdrive physicality puts added stress on his body. He missed practice Tuesday with tenderness in his left knee.

When you are the oldest team in the NBA, as the Warriors are, and you've played extended seasons four years running, as they have, soreness and injuries will be issues. Not everybody is LeBron James, rudely stiff-arming Father Time, at least for the time being.

That's why Kerr and his assistants, along with the Warriors' overhauled training staff, will closely monitor the minutes of All-Stars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Green. It's why we can expect an increased number of "rest nights" for the likes of Shaun Livingston and Iguodala, who have been on maintenance programs for several seasons.

It's also why the younger Warriors are being phased in.

Anticipating more rest for the vets, the full-scale grooming of the youngsters is under way. The upstarts -- Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook, Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Jacob Evans III, among others -- take the court at 10 a.m., a full hour before practice, under the supervision of player development coach Chris DeMarco.

The vets take the court at 11, by which time the younger group is prepared for what's ahead.

"It's something we've been looking to do over the last year is improve our player development program," Kerr said. "It was hard to do last year because we had so many veterans. We were kind of left with about three young guys that we could work out with individual stuff.

"But now we have five, six or seven young guys who need work. I like format."

It's a necessary change because the Warriors realize their window will be open for only so much longer. In addition to the 31-plus trio, Curry and Durant are 30, and Green and Thompson both are 28.

"We have a pretty clear delineation between players who need work and players who need rest, or need work in the training room or the weight room," Kerr said.

It's not that the vets are done, or even close. No one on the roster has an eye toward retirement. Not yet. But they also know a player's prime years can be extended only so much.

And if the Warriors want to be prepared to compete five years from now, they'll need players in their primes and ready.

That previously was not a factor. Veterans Leandro Barbosa and Shaun Livingston arrived with Kerr in 2014. He inherited more veterans, such as Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Marreese Speights, Brandon Rush and Iguodala. They were replaced by another round of vets: David West, Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee and, of course, Durant.

Only Iguodala and Durant remain. There are no more 30-plus centers. While eight players on the roster are 28 or older, five are 25 or younger.

"The way the league is designed, the way the cap is designed, it's going to be tough for anybody to put together a window of more than four or five years," Kerr said. "For us, we've got a lot of questions next summer, cap-wise. But until this year, until next year, we've been able to make it all work, just circumstantially and because we have a committed ownership group that wants to win and is willing to pay.

"But it gets really kind of silly from here on out, money-wise. I just feel like we're lucky to be in this spot. It's probably not going to happen again."

It's happening now, but they can hear the clock ticking.

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