It was a few minutes before his first game as Warriors’ interim head coach Monday, and Luke Walton was as serious as a pit bull.
Did Walton have his best John Wooden speech ready for the players?
“No, it’s too early for that,” Walton told Balls in that deep voice of his. “You don’t want to peak too early. I’ll save it for when I need it, otherwise, the guys won’t take me seriously.”
At that point, Walton couldn’t help but break out in a wide smile. That was more like the free spirit everyone had come to know and like over the years.
While Steve Kerr recovers from his latest back surgery, that question cannot be ignored — will veteran players take the laid-back Walton seriously? Balls has no doubt that Mr. California Cool will become an NBA head coach one day, but clearly, that day is not now.
Publicly, the Warriors hope Kerr will be available for the regular-season opener, but if he isn’t, then what? Can the Champs hold their own in the highly competitive Western Conference with Walton in charge? Remember, there’s no ex-head coach like Alvin Gentry to take over this time.
Walton said he received a text from Kerr, who wanted to know if he was nervous.
“A little bit,” he said. “Nothing too bad.”
Walton also received some advice from his father. “He told me to call about six different coaches — coach [Phil] Jackson, Lute Olson . . .,” Walton said. “Then he told me to read about seven different books. He gave me a lot of advice.
“I’m 35, but I’m feeling like I’m 48.”
MCADOO CAN DO: Remember the name James Michael McAdoo. You may hear it a lot this season.
In a 95-87 victory over the Toronto Raptors, McAdoo stood out with 10 points and a pair of steals in 13 minutes. The undrafted forward picked a good night to do it — team co-owner Joe Lacob was among the sell-out crowd at the SAP Center.
“I’m a lot better and a lot more confident. I know my role and what coach expects out of me,” said McAdoo, who spent most of last season with the Santa Cruz D-League championship team. “Just having that year of experience always helps, but I definitely feel that I need to come out here and prove myself.”
GOOD RIDDANCE: The NHL police suspended Sharks moron Raffi Torres for 41 games after his latest kill shot, but as usual, the penalty wasn’t enough.
Torres has been suspended five times in his career, including a 21-game sitdown for a blindside hit on the Chicago Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa in the 2012 playoffs. Anyone with that kind of track record has no business in the league and should be banned for life.
General manager Doug Wilson shouldn’t get off easy, either. He’s the dunce who hired Torres for no other reason than to put somebody in traction. Organizations should be responsible for their actions as well, and in this case, Wilson should be fined and his organization docked a draft pick.
KAP PROBLEM: Here’s what Balls sees in the 49ers’ offense: A skittish quarterback with a cluttered mind who doesn’t trust the guys around him, a line that can’t protect the passer and receivers who struggle against man coverage. Other than that, everything is fine.
There’s a lot of talk that quarterback Colin Kaepernick should be benched for his good and that of the team, but who replaces him? General manager Trent Baalke should have prepared for a worst-case scenario, yet the best he could do was career journeyman Blaine Gabbert as the back-up. Terrelle Pryor may be on the way, but as the Raiders discovered, he’s not the answer, either.
Now the heat is on offensive Geep Chryst to fit square pegs into so many round holes. Good luck with that.
AGREE TO DISAGREE: It seems that opinions about Kaepernick are a lot like his passes lately — all over the place.
Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson advised the 49ers to “find a new quarterback” — you know, like Dan Marinos were a dime a dozen — while sidekick Terry Bradshaw believed that Kaepernick needed a new system.
“You look at Kaepernick, and he is a talented individual, but it looks like he’s playing sandlot football,” Johnson said. “Sometimes he runs the ball, sometimes he throws it and it’s not accurate — it really is sandlot football. So the other 10 guys out there, they don’t know what to do.”
Bradshaw is convinced that Kaepernick would be ideal for the West Coast offense.
“[Kaepernick] lost his offensive coordinator in Greg Roman, who is now in Buffalo,” Bradshaw said. “Look at the emergence of [Buffalo] Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor and you can understand just how important an offensive coordinator is. Kaepernick has lost his confidence.”
AND ANOTHER THING: Then there’s this from NFL Network’s Kurt Warner, who worked with Kaepernick last offseason: “I know everybody wants to get down on him, but give the kid a chance to grow into the position. I have no idea what his future is going to be, but it’s a young man that’s never really had to play the position like they’re asking him to play it now, and he’s trying to learn and he’s learning under the gun.”
JUST SAYIN’: Kaepernick may not be Russell Wilson, as the Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews has suggested, but it sure is easier to talk when Aaron Rodgers is on your side.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION: Upstart Cal is one of the better stories of the early college football season, but let’s not forget that Grambling State (3-2) is their only opponent with an above .500 record to date. And the Tigers are an FCS team.
At the start of last weekend, the Bears hadn’t faced a pass offense that ranked among the top 50 in the country. Washington State (53rd), Texas (78th) and San Diego State (124th) were well down the list. Of particular concern is the left side of the secondary, which is undersized, inexperienced and targeted repeatedly.
The Bears better pack their ‘A’ games to be competitive at No. 5 Utah this weekend.
SHARK SIGHTING: The NHL regular season starts this week, and Balls finally spotted a Sharks’ jersey in the Bay Area, that of Dany Heatley, good, ol’ No. 15 himself.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … Arturs Irbe?
Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may get your name in the paper one day.