Kurtenbach: What’d I miss? A summer’s worth of takes on the Warriors, Giants, Niners, and Pac-12

Kurtenbach: What’d I miss? A summer’s worth of takes on the Warriors, Giants, Niners, and Pac-12

What’d I miss?

I’ve spent the last two months on paternity leave, being bossed around by a nine-month-old, and working on the schedule of a little girl as headstrong and opinionated as her dad.

It was the most rewarding summer of my life.

And while I tried to keep up with the day’s news, between cleaning bottles, car naps, freeze-dried strawberries, walks, the Ferber method, and Daddy Disco Breakfasts, some things fell through the cracks.

Ok, most things fell through the cracks.

So let’s catch up together.

Chris Paul is a Warrior

I wrote about this when it happened from an airport hotel next to Heathrow, and it took a few days to deduce that it was not, in fact, a jet-lagged induced fever dream.

Let’s be honest about what this move was: a salary dump.

They were wrong, I was wrong — we were all wrong about Jordan Poole. I forgive us, though, because we were drunk off one ascendant season and an improbable title. Sobriety arrived last season with a punch to the face and a hangover lasting eight months.

Poole will thrive, statistically, in Washington.

But Paul might be a better option for the Warriors this upcoming season.

After this season, though, the Warriors can bid Paul adieu, letting him walk in free agency and clearing his money from the books.

They couldn’t reasonably do that with Poole, who is signed through the 2026-27 season. That’s really why this move was made.

In fact, Poole’s contract was so hard to move, the Warriors attached a first-round draft pick, a second-round pick, and their two rookies from last season. (I thought Patrick Baldwin Jr. had a chance to be a nice depth piece.)

I heard Paul isn’t keen on coming off the bench for the first time in his career. This should be a fun storyline at the start of training camp. I can’t wait to hear Bob Myers break it down on ESPN.

Giants baseball: Nothing like it

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I heard the Giants were looking young and exciting while I was away, that they were playing entertaining, winning ball.

What happened?

I can’t find any evidence of that in the standings.

On June 22, the day Paul was traded to the Warriors, the Giants were 3.5 games back of the NL West lead with a .558 winning percentage. Today, they’re 8.5 back with a .534 winning percentage.

Where’s the offense? The Giants have the worst OPS in baseball (.620) since the All-Star Game.

The bullpen has been working double shifts my whole time away, as Gabe Kapler tries to set a new major league record for relief innings pitched in a season.

Thank goodness the team picked up AJ Pollock — and no one else — at the trade deadline. (He went 0-for-6 in his first five games with the Giants, then went on the injured list.)

Here’s some good news: Patrick Bailey – AKA Pickoff Pat or Patty Barrells — seems to be the truth, and Heliot Ramos has juice.

Add Marco Luciano, and the Giants have their spine for the next seven or eight years.

And while this year will likely still feature a few playoff games in October — this team has some grit — a deep postseason run looks out of the picture unless something dramatically changes.

Training Camp Confidential

I love being at NFL training camps. Whether that was driving up to Napa when the Raiders were still an Oakland team or cooking in the Santa Clara sun, I wanted to be there every day.

I thought that training camp set the baseline for the season — what you saw on those practice fields would be critical information if you wanted to truly understand the team.

But after missing the important parts of Niners training camp this season, I don’t feel I have missed much. All that “baseline” stuff might have just been thought anchoring.

Here’s what I do know:

Brock Purdy’s elbow is fine, and he’s the No. 1 quarterback. That said, I’ve heard he has been unimpressive in camp. Kyle Shanahan remains undaunted, though. To him, Purdy is a cheap Kirk Cousins. This is Shanahan’s dream.

Niners fans’ dream is winning the Super Bowl. We’ll see if the two can converge this winter. If they don’t, the Niners might end up with expensive Kirk Cousins.

Meanwhile, the No. 2 quarterback will be Trey Lance or Sam Darnold. Preseason games will be more informative than practices in that battle, and Sunday’s preseason performance by Lance felt deeply informative.

Here’s what else I have heard and am interested in confirming first-hand in the coming days and weeks:

• Third-round tight end Cameron Latu is on the roster fringe, as he struggles to line up correctly or catch passes. Maybe he’s a gamer. Maybe he’ll be part of the Niners’ brutal run of third-round picks since Fred Warner was selected in 2018. (Jalen Hurd in 2019, Trey Sermon, Ambry Thomas in 2021, Ty Davis-Price, Danny Gray last season.)

• Presumptive starting right tackle Colton McKivitz has struggled. That’s less than ideal.

• Brandon Aiyuk has been incredible in camp and is poised for that anticipated move to becoming a top-flight No. 1 receiver in this league.

Thanks for everything, Larry Scott

One thing I could keep up with during my parental sabbatical was the implosion of the Pac-12 Conference. It helps to have a Hotline for things like that — specifically the Pac-12 Hotline by our Jon Wilner. Wilner has been all over this story since breaking the news a year ago that USC and UCLA were leaving the conference.

Boy, it was depressing to follow. A once-great league, undercut by its own (USC, UCLA) and then ultimately ransacked this summer, with Stanford and Cal left for dead in the process.

My suggestions for the two Bay Area schools:

Stanford should become the Notre Dame of the West Coast: independent in football, and a member of the West Coast Conference in everything else. Not many schools can manage such an idiosyncratic existence — I think the Cardinal can.

For Cal, this might ultimately be a reality dose of iodine — necessary but hurts like hell at the start. The Golden Bears athletic department has struggled to keep up with Power 5 spending for years. Dropping down to the Mountain West would radically reshape Cal sports, massively cutting operating budgets and entire programs, but after years of being overextended, a cull might be the right move.