Steve Kerr, Joe Lacob On Deal, Curry, Warriors

Steve Kerr thought at one point that the Warriors preferred to hire Stan Van Gundy instead of him, as reports, but when the Pistons swooped in and hired Van Gundy, Kerr became Golden State’s clear-cut No. 1 option. Kerr appeared to be leaning heavily toward the Knicks all along, and it was “agonizing” for him to say no to Knicks president Phil Jackson, as Kerr told Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group, but he wound up accepting a five-year, $25MM offer from Golden State. The deal is devoid of team or coach options, as USA Today’s Sam Amick tweets, and a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that Stephen Curry, a vocal supporter of Jackson, is excited about Kerr (Twitter link). Kawakami scored a one-on-one with the new Warriors coach, while Amick spoke with Golden State co-owner Joe Lacob.  The full interviews are tantamount to required reading for Warriors fans, and perhaps Knicks fans, too, and we’ll pass along a few highlights from them that detail how the deal went down:

Kerr on the relationships that led him to Golden State: 

“What helped is that I have previous relationships with Joe and Kirk and definitely Bob. Bob and I have known each other for years–he was Robin Lopez’s agent; I drafted Robin in Phoenix, so we spent some time together then. So I knew Bob. And I’ve known Joe actually a long time through a mutual friend, a venture capitalist in the Bay Area. So we’ve been on golf trips together. The familiarity for sure was helpful and it helped everybody relax and just sort of … be themselves. I’ve been preparing for this for the last year. I knew I wanted to coach and I had some prepared materials that I showed them. But more than anything we just talked about the opportunity and the team and the possibilities. We were just all very comfortable with one another.”

Lacob on his relationship with Kerr:

“I knew him through friends — and through golf, quite frankly. I’ve been on golf trips with Steve before, so I know him socially for many years. He’s best friends with one of my best friends and some other people, so I’ve known him, but not necessarily that close or that professionally as has been portrayed. He is certainly somebody who we have always liked, sort of a great, intelligent guy. So he was on our list, and when we decided to make a change he was on our short list of people who we wanted to talk to.”

Kerr on the draw of Stephen Curry, whom Kerr, then Suns GM, tried to acquire in 2009:

“It was huge. I talked to him tonight and I told him this is retribution for that deal falling through back in ’09. [Laughs.] A big part of the pull was not just Steph but the whole roster. It’s a really skilled, talented team. They’ve done a lot of good things the last couple years, they play both ends which was very important. This is not a renovation by any means. This is more just this team has done great things the last couple years and let’s try to build on that. I love the mentality. I think Mark really instilled a defensive identity and the emphasis on rebounding. He did a lot of really good things. That makes my job a lot easier. I’m able to build on that rather than starting to try to build a foundation. The foundation is already there. It’s really an attractive job.”

Lacob on player support for Kerr:

“[Curry] is extremely supportive. That’s all I can tell you. We got Steve Kerr because of our players. We have great players, great character individuals. They all want to win, and I can just tell you that they’re very supportive.”

Kerr on whether he’ll have front office input:

“Yeah, but not as a decision-maker and I wouldn’t want that. I’m going to have a busy enough job as it is. I think to me the healthiest situation for any coach is to have a say, but not have the ultimate decision. I think that’s what the GM is for and I got a really good sense from all the guys that it’s about a consensus. And I’ll be part of that.”

Lacob on hiring another first-time coach:

“Yes, it’s true, [Kerr] has not coached before. But this is what management is all about. You have to be able to pick people, and he is incredibly prepared…Every detail you can imagine. He knew our roster in and out. He had assistant coaches he wanted to go after. It was like a tour de force. Look, at the end of the day I know he knows a lot about basketball. We’re taking a little bit of a risk on his coaching ability, but we did that with Mark and it worked. So it’s just about finding the right fit for the organization and a guy who has extremely high potential, is a hard worker and is very prepared. That’s what we have got.”

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