Editor's note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter using the hashtag #askkerith
I'm writing this portion of the mailbag on a gray Cleveland morning. I'm sitting outside the Warriors' locker room at Quicken Loans Arena. Last time the Warriors were here was when they swept the Cavs and won their third NBA championship in four seasons, cementing a dynasty.
Most of my work that night happened in this hallway. Interview after interview with champagne-soaked players. It was my rookie season with the team, and I got to cover a championship. Unforgettable.
It's 10:44 a.m. I'm looking around as arena workers set up tables for fans who get to eat and drink in the courtside club. LeBron isn't in Cleveland any more. When the Warriors face the Cavs this time on a Wednesday night in December, with the temperature 28 degrees and snow starting in 49 minutes, the team records going into the game are 16-9 and 5-18, respectively.
Everything changes. The Warriors had a season where they finished with nine losses. But each season is a new beast.
@scottlassley will Damian Jones injury hasten Boogie Cousin's debut?
@ikman.preet Do you think Boogie can make his return before Christmas after Jones being out?
@Souz2385 Who starts at center now that Jones is out? Does Bell start more or will Looney until Boogie comes back?
@saucinexcessively What kind of development should we expect from Jordan Bell given the Damian Jones injury?
@lowkay614 Now that Jones is out will we get someone to replace him or just hope for Boogie's quick return?
Warriors fans were interested in the center position before, and that interest exploded now that Damian Jones could miss the rest of the season with a torn left pectoral muscle. DJ was the starter at the 5, and that job was supposed to carry until DeMarcus Cousins is ready to play. Now what?
First, don't expect Boogie to come back any earlier. There will be no "rushing back" from his Achilles tendon rehab, even though the Warriors have more urgency at the center position now. The timetable for Boogie's return is still around the New Year.
We just saw the caution the Warriors took with Steph Curry's return from his groin injury. He probably could have played in Toronto. Steph said he was ready. Steve Kerr thought Steph looked ready. But the training staff suggested two more days of rehab. Caution always will be the default position in the regular season.
Now consider how long it's been for Boogie to rehab his serious injury. He's been out since January. The Warriors don't want to put him in a situation where his body is not 100 percent ready to play. Even then, he might get a few extra days to be safe.
Where does that leave Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell? The Warriors made Loon their starter. Going all the way back to the start of the season, Kerr said Loon had the best training camp, and he's more trusted than JB. These December games can be a big opportunity for Loon. We just saw him go for a new career high in scoring against the Hawks. His rim protection is good. The question for Loon will be his durability with more minutes. He's had two hip surgeries.
As for JB, I hope some increased minutes will help him find a groove where his play evens out with more predictability and reliability. Coaches have told me he's a better professional in Year 2. Now his play needs to rise to the occasion. Some of the inconsistency comes from a lack of playing time this season, and some of it comes from things he is doing. This is an opportunity for JB to shine.
The Warriors also will rely on Draymond Green and Jonas Jerebko and their two-way call-up, Marcus Derrickson, to play big.
@GSWReddit Do you have any inkling on how the coaching staff feels about Marcus Derrickson and how much we might see of him in the next couple games?
Derrickson has a lot of promise. In Santa Cruz, he was getting about 28 minutes per game and averaging 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
I talked to Bruce Fraser to see what he notices about Derrickson, and he talked about his skill set for his size. Derrickson has an outside game. He can knock down threes, which stretches the floor for the type of game the Warriors like to play. In the preseason, the brief times I talked to Derrickson, he seemed to fit in as a chill locker room guy.
Derrickson is an insurance policy on this road trip, so he'll get sporadic minutes, unless other guys are in foul trouble. For any call-up, the expectation is to make good decisions and play defense. Anything else he can add is gravy.
@JRonin47 Hi, with Jones unfortunately out...what do you think the chances are that Dubs sign @andrewbogut?
@julien45690654 I HAVE ONE : Can the Warriors re sign James Michael McAdoo ???
Zero-point-zero-zero percent. It's tempting to remember the good times and the players on old championship teams, but the Warriors have moved on. Remember … everything changes. Getting the band back together isn't a long-term strategy, nor does it mean the contributions a guy provided in previous seasons will carry over into a new season. Let bygones be bygones.
@Rafael415 Probably a common question right now but how worried is the team and or staff about this season going south? Also, your workout routine. Thanks.
There's no worry. This is what the rest of the NBA goes through. What the Warriors have experienced ... injuries, blips in the locker room, some hot and cold shooting ... is all common. It just feels amplified because of how successful the Warriors have been for years. Take some lumps with more early season losses than usual, and it feels like Chicken Little is the new mascot.
The Warriors make things look easy. None of this is easy. Winning championships is incredibly difficult, even if you've done it before.
The season won't go south, I promise. The Warriors will adapt to survive injuries, and rely on their veteran presence and maturity to keep things harmonious should issues arise. It might not be a 60-win season, but they'll be fine.
As far as my workout routine: every other day, rotating between cardio, yoga and weights. I started using a heart rate monitor to track the cardio, and it's been awesome to measure my effort. Keeps me honest when I'd rather take it easy.
@iRepCincinnati What's a good tip for managing jet lag?
Signaling to your body that it's time to sleep is key. Low lights. Putting your phone down. Calming your mind. If only I did any of this!
I don't know great ways to manage jet lag because I'll look at the clock at 3 a.m. and be happy it's only midnight back home ... but my alarm is going off at 9 a.m.
I will share some general travel tips I've learned. Buy a humidifier. I take small one that I bought for $30 with me when I travel to dry, cold-weather cities. Having some moisture in the room helps prevent a sore throat, dry hands, chapped lips, etc. I also use rosehip oil on my face for extra moisture.
I started using packing cubes this season to keep my suitcase organized. And I always have an extra phone charger.
This week's high five goes to Quinn Cook for being a friend to a 14-year-old Ohio boy named Kadin Williams.
When Quinn was in the G-League, he played for the Canton Charge, and Kadin frequently was in the stands. Quinn noticed Kadin made T-shirts with Quinn's face on them.
He was a super fan, and they got to talking. Quinn gave Kadin his phone number, and they keep in touch. Kadin and his mom drove hours to attend one of Quinn's basketball camps in Washington DC.
Not long after that, Kadin's house burned down. Quinn sent him a care package with shoes and clothes and other items.
Their friendship is real. Kadin was at the game in Cleveland. His mom shared these pictures.
Seeing Kadin courtside was a reminder how much basketball and the people playing it can mean in someone's life. Quinn returned the love.