Warriors coach Steve Kerr will make his season debut on the bench tonight, returning from his leave of absence for Golden State’s game against Indiana, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The team confirmed the news via press release. Kerr missed the first 43 games of the season after undergoing two back surgeries. Assistant coach Luke Walton has led the Warriors to a sterling 39-4 record as interim coach, though the team hasn’t played quite as well of late after a 29-1 start.
Kerr has maintained a presence, attending practices throughout the season and more recently traveling with the club. Golden State begins a three-game homestand tonight before heading east for a three-game road trip that begins with a January 30th tilt at Philadelphia.
The Warriors won 67 regular season games and the NBA title in Kerr’s first season as an NBA coach last year, and they’ve carried that level of success into this season without a hitch under Walton, who is in just his third year of coaching, including a gig as a player development coach for the D-League affiliate of the Lakers in 2013/14. The team’s strong performance under Walton has put him in the conversation to formally become a head coach for another NBA team in the near future. The Nets are reportedly eyeing him for their vacancy.
Walton had said he didn’t imagine Kerr’s absence, which began shortly after the start of training camp, stretching nearly as long as it did, but Kerr maintained confidence that he’d return at some point this season. Both the Warriors and Kerr were, as of last week, 100% certain that he would coach before season’s end, tweets Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.
Will the Warriors be even better under Kerr than they were with Walton as interim coach? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.