How Warriors players are handling rumors ahead of NBA trade deadline

Kerith Burke
NBC Sports BayArea

Editor's note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askKerith.

Tip-Off

The big news this week was the Warriors waiving Marquese Chriss to get Damion Lee off his two-way contract into something long-term with the team.

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Why Chriss? The short, simple answer is his contract was non-guaranteed. It was a financial decision. On the Runnin' Plays postcast available here, Logan Murdock and I talked at length about how much the Warriors agonized over waiving Chriss, why Lee has paid his dues to earn this moment, and what happens to Ky Bowman. 

We also discuss on the podcast when Steph Curry and Klay Thompson may or may not return this season. Give it a listen. 

Game On!

@itsooni I know they're all professionals, but in the face of seemingly non-stop trade talks lately, how is team morale?

It's a strange time of year. Alec Burks, D'Angelo Russell, and Glenn Robinson III are part of the rumor mill. Some rumors are well-sourced (you can trust Warriors Insider Monte Poole, even before I covered the Warriors, I followed Monte for NBA news), others are whispers mixed with wishful thinking. 

The trade deadline is Feb. 6th. That's about four weeks away. I feel like the most realistic trade possibilities gain heat in the week leading up to the deadline. 

Overall, morale is fine though. Trades are a part of NBA life. That doesn't make it easy, but players learn to cope with the tension of wondering if a teammate won't be next to them anymore. Credit to the Warriors to being good with communication. Steve Kerr mentioned he's talked to the guys about this time of year. If there's anything bubbling for a player, the last thing the team wants is that player to learn it through the media or online. 

@lmcd9999_l What has Steph been doing on his off time?

I talked to Steph briefly at a game recently and he told me he's bored, ha. While he's out of his basketball routine, he's had more time for family, charity events, and business interests. 

He said he's been trying to read more books. He finished Andre Iguodala's book "Sixth Man." He's also been in touch with Davidson about what he'd need to do to finish his degree. 

@sokokyu When do Steph and Klay come back? Please for the love of... splash threes…
@viray7_john #askkerith latest update on klay injury and Steph injury cause it's depressing watching this kings game.

The word from the Warriors is Steph will be re-evaluated early in February. Keep in mind "re-evaluated" does not mean "will come back that instant." 

Steve Kerr believes it is "unlikely" Klay will play at all this season. Klay had surgery on his left knee to repair the torn ACL in early July 2019. Generally speaking, the recovery time after ACL surgery is 9-12 months. Nine months would be April 2020. But why play him for games that don't matter for playoffs and re-risk injury? 

I'm firmly in the "Don't Play Him" camp. Give him extra months to heal and prepare this summer for a new season.

[RELATED: Steph looks sharp during drills]

It tugs on my heartstrings to see Klay, in full uniform, getting up shots at practice. He clearly wants to play ASAP. If he's cleared for contact sometime this season, I think he'll make a big push to get on the court. 

Again, we talked about this on the podcast Thursday, then heard it from Kerr's mouth when he caught up with Chris Haynes

@carlosanimals In recent years, I've become wholly dependent on the Warriors to distract me from my wretched life. How can a poor man stand such times and live?

Destruction leads to creation. Failure sparks the growth needed for success. Knowing the depths of sadness makes happiness feel richer. You get me? 

This season is a low point compared to five consecutive NBA Finals appearances. That's OK. The only place to go is up. 

@acrispdon You think we are going to the playoffs or what?

It's Jan. 10th and the Warriors do not have 10 wins yet. Do you think they're going to the playoffs?

@Ron_T_Yeung How difficult is it for you to prepare for a game or even get excited/motivated for that night while knowing the team will pick up the L. Lack of talent & experience.

I've seen enough to know the Warriors will not be automatic losers. I didn't predict they'd beat the Rockets on Christmas. They did. They played a close, spirited game with the Bucks, the best team in basketball. It's fun being surprised by a scrappy team that cares about getting better and plays with heart. 

When I prepare for games this season, nothing about my duties has changed. Win or lose, I do pre-game reports, in-game reports, and post-game reports. I can't view this stuff like a fan and feel sad about losses. This is my job, and I better do it well every night. 

I feel excited/motivated to do work up to the standard I have for myself. It feels encouraging to know the Warriors are trying too. 

@BalancingP What would be the biggest need in the draft if you get the #1 pick and do you take the most talented or the biggest need.

Hard to say biggest need because the roster we know now might not be the roster we see on June 25. 

That's why I answer hypotheticals generally. I take the philosophy, draft the best player. Don't draft a position. The best player would have a skillset that would instantly make your team better. Evolve with that, instead of trying to fit a peg in a hole.

[RELATED: Two players for Warriors at No. 2]

@Nick_Lewis315 What's your favorite thing about being on the road?

I like seeing America. This job brought me to Miami, Chicago, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, OKC, Milwaukee, Memphis, etc. for the first time in my life. I appreciate seeing new places.

@victorious_me what's the most surprising non-basketball interest you've discovered of any Dubs player? (thinking Kyrie and his love of musical theater, Russ being a secret fashion prodigy, etc...)

When WIllie Cauley Stein joined the team, I read up on him and discovered this in-depth piece about who he is off the court. 

He paints! He takes piano lessons! He wants to design a fashion line! I like the curiosity Willie brings to things. He's a thinker. 

High Five

Speaking of Willie, this week's high five goes to the good news that's he's going to be a father. He made the announcement on Instagram. What a way to ring in the new year! 

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors coverage all season.

How Warriors players are handling rumors ahead of NBA trade deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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