There was never any doubt that Steve Kerr would be offered an extension, but it’s significant that he solved the Warriors‘ biggest problem shortly before it happened, writes Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.
Kerr could have faced a crisis in January when a report indicated that Jonathan Kuminga was displeased with his lack of playing time and had lost faith in his coach. Instead, Kerr used it as an opportunity to convey to Kuminga what he needed to do to earn regular minutes, and the young forward’s progress has played a major role in Golden State’s turnaround.
“I think it was actually a good thing for him to kind of express his frustration because it kind of forced him to really take ownership of it, and we had a good conversation,” Kerr said. “He let me know how he’s feeling, that he was frustrated, and we went through a list of things that I felt he needed to do, and it coincided with the time that Draymond (Green) was out … so he got more minutes based on playing better, but also on the opportunity that came up.”
Kuminga was the seventh pick in the 2021 draft, back when the Warriors were pursuing a “two timeline” approach of trying to develop young talent while remaining in title contention. He saw his path blocked by more experienced players for two-and-a-half seasons before he spoke up last month. Some members of the Warriors front office wanted Kuminga to be utilized more, according to Kawakami, but Kerr had to be convinced that he could be trusted to play winning basketball.
“And this is what people usually say in this league: It’s year three when guys start to really feel it and take off,” Kerr added. “But when you draft a guy that high, nobody wants to hear, ‘It takes three years.’ They want it to happen right away. But it just doesn’t.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Trayce Jackson-Davis has become a valuable finisher for the Warriors in his rookie season, notes Sam Gordon of The San Francisco Chronicle. Jackson-Davis is shooting 69.3% from the field and is second on the team in dunks with 55, averaging one slam every 9.6 minutes. “You can see the impact that he makes with his ability to score at the rim,” Kerr said.
- Swingman Chris Duarte, who was dealing with a sprained right ankle earlier this month, logged 20 minutes Thursday in the Kings‘ first game after the All-Star break. Duarte talked about staying focused even though playing time has been elusive in his first season with Sacramento (video link from James Ham of Kings Beat).
- The Clippers needed a rare scoring outburst from Terance Mann to pull out Friday’s game at Memphis, per Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. Mann’s 23 points marked the first time he has topped 20 all season. “It’s been a while,” he said.