Warriors practice takeaways: D'Angelo Russell rounding into shape


SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors had a long practice Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their second preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday evening. 

With an injured roster, Golden State elected to bring in undrafted big man Kavion Pippen to get the team through camp. Meanwhile, the Warriors have seen little progress from its injured frontcourt. 

To catch you up on Tuesday's practice, here are the biggest takeaways from the team's media session.

D'Angelo Russell rounding into form

Russell struggled during Golden State's 123-101 loss to the Lakers Saturday evening, making just two of his nine shots from the field. Three days later, he admitted that he's still trying to get into mid-season shape.  

"After preseason, I would say a few games after that," Russell said Tuesday afternoon on when he expects to get his full wind. "It's definitely a lot of - you're putting a lot on your body in the preseason. It's not getting the full recovery you could get. Any time you go that hard and take a few days off - maybe a week off - I think your body is getting back to that." 

Following Saturday's loss, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that Russell had to "get his legs underneath him." On Tuesday, Russell -- who signed a four-year $117 million deal in July -- explained why he doesn't include pickup basketball in his summer training regimen. 

"I try to limit my pickup basketball," Russell said. "I think it's not safe for one and two, I think its just load managing. Trying to manage my body the best way I can and prepare for this time. But as far as staying in basketball shape I try to play one on ones and go around the court and play one on one full court, little stuff like that but not as high intensity with a big group." 

Russell said the decision came after injuring his knee in 2017 following a summer of preparation for his first season with the Brooklyn Nets. A month into the 2017-18 season, Russell underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to remove "loose bodies." 

"I was killing myself, two or three workouts a day," Russell said. "On top of what the team was asking for me to do, it was too much wear and tear." 

Russell -- who turned 23 in February --  said he hopes his body maintenance could lead him to a long career going forward.  

"For sure," Russell said. "Especially with the checks they're handing out. I want to play as long as I can." 

Warriors add a new big

With three of Golden State's big men injured, the team added Kavion Pippen -- a 6-foot-10 big man from Southern Illinois -- to help the team get through training camp. 

Pippen, nephew of NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, participated in a closed workout in San Francisco last week. With Kevon Looney (hamstring), Willie Cauley Stein (foot) and rookie big man Alen Smailigic (ankle) out with injuries, Pippen impressed. 

"We're so beaten up at the center spot," Kerr said. "So we need him to help us get through camp." 

"He's an athletic kid," Kerr added. "Been here two days now so six days behind but we need him because we hardly have enough bodies." 

Pippen -- who went undrafted this summer -- averaged 12 points and five rebounds last season for the Salukis. A native of Hamburg, Ark., he played two years at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, Conn. On Tuesday, Pippen said his uncle, a winner of six NBA titles, said he talked to Scottie prior to signing with Golden State. 

"Just telling me to focus in," Kavion said of his uncle's advice. "Obtain as much knowledge from the veterans here and just play hard." 

Kavion got initiated into Golden State early. Prior to his first film session, he was sitting in guard Stephen Curry's seat and was asked to get up by the 3-time champion, a request he obliged. 

Pippen's chances to make the roster are slim, given Golden State's cap situation. Currently, the team sits $407,257 under the hard cap, despite having just 15 players on the roster.

The only way the big man could make the team is if the Warriors release Alfonzo McKinnie -- who's on a non-guaranteed contract. Nonetheless, Kavion's goal remains clear.  

"I'm definitely competing to get that [on] the 15-man roster." 

Notable absences

Alec Burks (ankle), Kevon Looney (hamstring), Willie Cauley-Stein (foot) and rookie big man Alen Smailigic (ankle) all sat out practice Tuesday afternoon.

Poole rolled his ankle before practice Monday afternoon and was held out for Monday night's open session at Chase Center.  During open practice, Poole sat on the sideline alongside Burks, Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Smailigic.

While Kerr had no update on Cauley-Stein or Smailigic, he said Looney -- who tweaked his hamstring last week -- participated in individual work with the training staff but didn't join the team on the court Monday afternoon. 

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The recent rash of injuries comes as Golden State is going through a transitional period. With Kevin Durant now with the Brooklyn Nets and Klay Thompson out until at least the All-Star break, Golden State is in a unique space heading into the 2019-20 season.

While none of the injuries are viewed to be long-term, it doesn't help to have an influx of injuries on a team with eight new summer additions. 

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