Warriors coach Mark Jackson jokes that his family’s financial future depends on it. General manager Bob Myers turns to inspirational quotes not to dwell on it, and fans and reporters always question it.
For all the moves made and money spent, Golden State’s entire season is resting on two surgically repaired ankles recovering — and staying at — full strength through a grueling 82-game schedule.
Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut, a dazzling guard-center combo if healthy, also form a duo that has struggled to stay on the court before it ever came together — and still hasn’t really come together yet. Bogut didn’t play during the preseason, and Curry sat out the last two exhibitions after he sprained his right ankle again.
There are no playoff predications from Jackson heading into his second year. No scintillating sound bites from the former broadcaster and point guard, either. Just the promise that if the franchise’s futility doesn’t turn around soon, aggressive owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber could make more changes next summer.
“I don’t care who I’m coaching, the pressure’s always going to be to win and do the job,” Jackson said. “Certainly we have a better basketball team and I think there’s added pressure across the board. I don’t run from it, I embrace it.”
Myers, the former sports agent promoted from assistant general manager at the end of last season, said the roster he helped assemble is “good on paper.”
The true test of the season, though, will not be looks.
It will be durability.
Curry, one of the NBA’s best shooters when healthy, missed 40 of 66 games last season and has had repeated problems with the ankle throughout his career. The former Davidson star had arthroscopic surgery in April and had surgery to repair a tendon in the ankle in the summer of 2011.
The Warriors also said Bogut is on schedule and has not had any setbacks on his surgically repaired left ankle, which he fractured on Jan. 25 while with Milwaukee and missed the rest of the season. He came to Golden State in a trade for guard Monta Ellis, among others. Bogut had hoped to return for the season opener, but the team has not set any deadline, and even if the 7-footer from Australia played it likely won’t be for extended minutes.
“It is frustrating and it does play on me a little bit. But at the same time, I look back at the injuries that I’ve had and that could happen to anybody,” said Bogut, the 2005 No. 1 overall pick.
Jackson said the reason he made the bold playoff prediction when he was hired last year was to “change the culture” of a losing franchise that, despite only making the playoffs once since 1994, is consistently among the NBA’s top-10 in attendance and whose fans are among the most vocal in the sports saturated Bay Area. He said the team’s mindset has changed and there is no need for words anymore.
“Ultimately it comes to a point where, enough of the talking,” Jackson said. “Go out and do it.”