Steve Kerr

Warriors Believed Team Chemistry Was At Stake After Draymond Green Altercation

The Warriors winning their third straight title seems much less likely now than it did prior to the season. Golden State’s appears mortal on the court and off the court, there’s plenty to be concerned about even if Kevin Durant claims the tiff with Draymond Green won’t impact his long-term decision making.

The team suspended Green for the altercation and according to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, both coach Steve Kerr and GM Bob Myers believed that the chemistry of the entire team was at stake. They wanted to make sure the situation didn’t develop into a series of “personal grievances and lingering resentments,” Kawakami writes. The suspension was handed down to prevent Green from dictating the mood and terms for the remainder of the season into the offseason.

Team management was upset that the move was viewed as the organization picking Durant over Green. While it’s easy to look at it that way, the decision to suspend Green had more to do with making sure the chemistry of the team would remain repairable.

If Durant leaves, the Warriors want it to be because it was his own choice and not because another player was barking at him.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Okobo, Cousins, Lakers

The Warriors have been ordered to pay approximately $40MM for prior renovations at Oracle Arena, according to an Associated Press report. The dispute stemmed from renovations to the arena back in 1996. The government agency that manages the arena took out a $150MM bond for basketball renovations and the team agreed to help finance with annual payments. The Warriors argued their debt obligation should end when they terminate their lease and leave Oakland for San Francisco at the end of the season. An arbiter disagreed and ruled that the team must continue making payments through 2027.

We have more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Rookie Elie Okobo may have emerged as the Suns’ answer at point guard in a loss to the Thunder over the weekend, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Okobo posted a team-high 18 points and eight assists after he replaced Isaiah Canaan, who suffered a left ankle injury early in the contest. “He played with confidence, he played with a presence. He played like, ‘I belong here,’” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said.
  • Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins apologized to coach Steve Kerr for getting ejected from the bench during the team’s game against the Knicks on Friday, Nick Friedell of ESPN relays. Cousins, who is still rehabbing from his Achilles injury he suffered last season, got tossed for trash talking to Knicks center Enes Kanter. “That kind of stuff is not going to help us win a championship, it’s not going to help his reputation, and I think he understands that,” Kerr said. “And I think he immediately regretted what happened, so I really appreciated him coming to me and making that pretty clear, and I don’t expect it to happen again.”
  • The Lakers need to ride their young players — Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart — to complement LeBron James and build a brighter future, Martin Rogers of USA Today argues. It’s important for that quartet to grow and develop chemistry with James, rather than playing veterans like Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley, Rogers adds.

And-Ones: Team USA, G League, Sessions, D. Gordon

Steve Kerr and Brad Stevens are considered the most likely candidates to succeed Gregg Popovich as head coach of Team USA, but there could be other names in the mix, relays Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. During a recent podcast, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned Erik Spoelstra as a possibility, along with Nate McMillan and Villanova’s Jay Wright, although he added that the job will probably go to a current NBA coach.

ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst, who joined Wojnarowski for the show, questioned whether McMillan is really in the running, but called Spoelstra a “very strong” candidate, noting that he is highly respected around the league and is the second-longest-tenured head coach with the same team. Spoelstra’s main obstacle is that he’s not already on the Team USA staff.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • The G League’s new alternative to college basketball is getting mixed reviews from some of the nation’s top high school players, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The league plans to offer $125K “select contracts” to top prospects who are at least 18 years old but aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft. Givony talked to a few five-star recruits who haven’t chosen a college — along with their families — and found both interest and skepticism about the new arrangement. “My first reaction was I’d like to hear more,” said Richard Hurt, the father of top-10 recruit Matthew Hurt. “… There are some things that are intriguing about it. It’s not the money. It’s the opportunity to focus solely on what your craft will be. Similar to what a trade school would be.”
  • Ramon Sessions may be headed to Israel, notes Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Maccabi Tel Aviv is reportedly considering an offer for the 11-year NBA veteran, who played a combined 28 games last season for the Knicks and Wizards. Sessions may replace another former NBA player, Jeremy Pargo, who will miss several weeks with an injury.
  • Drew Gordon tells NetsDaily.com that he sees the G League as his chance to return to the NBA after three years of being overseas. Gordon, who is playing for Long Island, has just nine games of NBA experience, all coming with the Sixers during the 2014/15 season. “I’ve basically been living my life out of four suitcases for the last five, six years,” he said. “It’s always interesting to immerse yourself into different cultures and having to live there for an extended period of time. You just have to learn to go with the flow with certain types of things and be able to adapt quickly and make changes with your game and everyday lifestyle.”

And-Ones: Team USA, McAdoo, Bennett, Drafts

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Pacers coach Nate McMillan and Villanova coach Jay Wright have been named assistant coaches of the 2019-20 USA Basketball Men’s National Team, USA Basketball announced in a press release. The three assistants will join Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to round out the coaching staff of the Olympic team.

“Led by coach Popovich, we have assembled an incredible coaching staff for the USA National Team, and we are excited to have Steve Kerr, Nate McMillan and Jay Wright join the team as assistant coaches,” said Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball Men’s National Team. “It’s special that each coach has prior USA Basketball experience as either a player or coach, and each coach has compiled a successful and impressive resume. I’m very confident that the USA Basketball National Team is in excellent hands the next two years.”

Popovich, Kerr, McMillan and Wright share decades of combined coaching and playing experience, with each coach highly respected by their peers and by players across the NBA.

“I am honored and fortunate to have such gifted coaches share this USA Basketball responsibility with me,” Popovich said. “Steve Kerr, Nate McMillan and Jay Wright are not just knowledgeable, dedicated individuals, but they exhibit the creativity, tenacity and respect for the game needed to compete in the international arena.

“I look forward to joining them as USA Basketball attempts to extend the stellar success they’ve enjoyed over the past 12 years.”

The USA National Team has won 76 straight games, including three straight gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016. The impressive coaching staff – followed by an expected All-Star team of talent in 2020 – puts Team USA in a good position to win a fourth straight gold medal.

There’s more news around the basketball world:

  • The Maine Red Claws completed a trade today in the G League, sending the returning player rights of Anthony Bennett to the Agua Caliente Clippers in exchange for the returning player rights to James McAdoo and a 2018 third-round pick in the upcoming G League Draft. The Maine Red Claws are the G League affiliate of the NBA’s Celtics, while the Agua Caliente Clippers are the Clippers‘ affiliate.
  • ESPN.com writers Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz published a detailed story on young prospects, focusing on players from the 2019 recruiting class who could become draft-eligible in 2020. Class of 2019 center James Wiseman remains an intriguing talent, with the 7-footer still considering offers from a handful of schools.
  • We discussed several more basketball odds and ends in our last And-Ones roundup, including an update on the NBA’s new international plans for the 2019 preseason.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Green, Cousins, Cauley-Stein

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant played a key role in bringing LeBron James to Los Angeles this summer, Sam Amick of The Athletic reveals in a new story.

Bryant, who spent his entire 20-season career with the Lakers, met with team owner Jeanie Buss in February of 2017 to deliver strong advice: Shake up the front office, start new and bring a new culture to the franchise.

“Jeanie, I know who we’re trying to get; we know who we’re trying to get, so that player is not going to come here with all of this s–t going on,” Bryant said, according to Amick. “It’s not going to happen. So if you do want to have that focus, and go after that player, then I’m telling you that you’ve gotta clean house, and you’ve gotta just reshuffle the deck and start anew. You have the new practice facility (the UCLA Health Training Center) that we’re just moving into (in the summer of 2017). We’ve got new management, and off we go. But that player is not coming here unless you do that.

“As a player, it’s like, listen, it’s a cultural thing. You’ve got to have the right culture around, especially for him at this stage of his career,” Bryant explained. “You don’t want to come to a team and deal with a bunch of bull—-, right? You don’t want to come here and be part of an organization where the walls are talking and stuff is getting out left and right and you have this camp and that camp. You don’t want to do that. So I said, ‘You’ve got to start anew.’”

Buss listened to Bryant’s advice, firing older brother Jim Buss and letting go of general manager Mitch Kupchak. In turn, the team promoted Magic Johnson to president of basketball operations and hired Rob Pelinka as new general manager. Fast forward to July of 2018, and the new-look Lakers convinced James to sign a free-agent contract.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Warriors Notes: Kerr, Myers, McCaw, Thompson

As the Timberwolves make an effort to handle Jimmy Butler‘s trade request, Tom Thibodeau‘s dual role as the club’s head coach and president of basketball operations may be a complicating factor — Thibodeau reportedly has no interest in rebuilding or in making a deal that would see the Wolves take a major step back on the court.

While Thibodeau has plenty of power – for now – in Minnesota, not every NBA head coach is envious of his extra responsibilities. As Chris Hine of The Minneapolis Star Tribune details, Warriors coach Steve Kerr is one coach who has no interest in assuming both of those roles at once, despite having previously served as an NBA general manager.

“It wouldn’t work for me,” Kerr said of holding both jobs at once. “It depends on the circumstances, the situations. It depends on relationships within the organization. Everybody is going to be structured a little differently, but having sat in both chairs, I would not feel comfortable doing both jobs.”

Here’s more on Kerr and the Warriors:

  • As Hine relays, Kerr offered a few additional thoughts on why he’s happy simply coaching the Warriors: “One of the reasons I wanted to coach is because frankly it’s easier than being a GM and facing some of those choices. I’m lucky. I’ve got a great GM. Great friend in Bob [Myers] and when we’ve been faced with difficult decisions, the collaboration and the process we’ve had has been sound. … We’re lucky to be where we are, and it’s been smooth. We’re all going to face our moments. It’s the NBA, and it’s tough out there.”
  • One issue that Myers and the Warriors’ front office are currently dealing with is Patrick McCaw‘s restricted free agency. McCaw let Monday’s qualifying offer deadline pass without accepting his QO, a decision that is both “risky and mystifying,” according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Asked by Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link) whether he’d be interested in having his “own team,” 2019 free-agent-to-be Klay Thompson questioned that concept, noting that he doesn’t believe the Warriors are any one player’s team. “I just want to be on a great team,” Thompson added. “I don’t want to necessarily be the focal point at all times.”

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Lakers, Suns, Jackson, Kerr

Lakers coach Luke Walton will use the preseason to sort out his options at center, Joey Ramirez of the Lakers’ website reports. While JaVale McGee and Ivica Zubac are the more conventional centers on the roster, the team is exploring small ball looks with Kyle Kuzma and Michael Beasley at the five spot. Walton was particularly intrigued by what he saw from Kuzma during the team’s preseason game against Denver on Sunday.

“There were a few fundamental breakdowns of how we want to play the defense from that spot, but his effort was there,” said the Lakers’ head coach. “He wants the challenge again, and we’re gonna give it to him again.”

In other developments from around the Pacific Division:

  • LeBron James will play in the Lakers‘ first preseason game at Staples Center on Tuesday but point guard Lonzo Ball will be held out, Ramirez writes in the same story. Ball is participating in full practices but the team is playing it safe in his return from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July, Ramirez adds.
  • The Suns have become the latest NBA team to enter a jersey sponsorship deal with a corporate partner, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, who reports that the club will display PayPal ads on its uniforms going forward. There are now 25 clubs with jersey sponsors.
  • Josh Jackson is the Suns’ X factor this season, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. The 2017 lottery pick is viewed by new coach Igor Kokoskov as a high-energy player who can make his biggest impact on the defensive end. “In the half court, he’s pretty good, but open court, he’s one of the best,” Kokoskov told Rankin. “So let’s play to his strength and emphasize his defense.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes he’s made significant progress from his prior back issues, Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. Kerr spoke of his health during a Tim Kawakami podcast. “I work every day — I do a lot of stuff to make sure I’m staying on the improving path,” he said. “The worst is behind me … when I had to sit out in the (2017) playoffs, that was a brutally difficult time and I wasn’t sure what was gonna happen. I think all of that is behind me and I’m looking at much better days.” Kerr’s interview with Kawakami from The Athletic can be found here.

Warriors Notes: McCaw, Livingston, Durant, Kerr

Patrick McCaw will probably accept the Warriors’ qualifying offer before training camp opens, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. A restricted free agent, McCaw has been waiting all summer for a team to offer more than Golden State’s QO of $1.7MM.

A disappointing second season contributed to McCaw’s current situation. His 2-point and 3-point shooting percentages both declined, and his scoring and rebounding numbers didn’t improve, even with a slight increase in playing time. Still, McCaw will likely remain in the rotation if he returns to Golden State, which may not be guaranteed if he signs elsewhere.

Both parties have leverage in the standoff, Slater notes. The Warriors can match any offer that McCaw receives, while he and his representatives know that the team can only offer minimum deals to potential replacements. With 13 players under contract, Golden State plans to give the 14th roster spot to McCaw while keeping the final one open.

Slater passes along more Warriors info in his mailbag column:

  • Golden State will have to make a decision on Shaun Livingston‘s partially guaranteed contract for 2019/20 by June 30, and the team’s choice may reflect how negotiations are going in other areas. Livingston has a $2MM guarantee on his $7,692,308 deal and could be a welcome source of savings for a team that’s already well over the cap with Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant both heading toward free agency and Draymond Green eligible for an extension. Livingston will turn 33 next week and it could be an easy decision if his game declines this season.
  • Damian Jones is the best bet to start at center when the season begins. Jordan Bell is the most talented candidate and will probably inherit the job once DeMarcus Cousins leaves in free agency, while Kevon Looney‘s reliable defense puts him in the discussion. Slater expects Jones to win the job unless he has an awful preseason, with Bell eventually taking over until Cousins is healthy enough to return in January or February.
  • Durant hasn’t made any decisions about his future, but he may be looking for a long-term deal next summer. The Warriors will have his full Bird Rights for the first time since he joined the organization and he may want security at age 31, whether that means a five-year contract with Golden State or a four-year deal elsewhere.
  • Coach Steve Kerr was able to make it through last season without major health issues, but the pain resulting from his back surgery hasn’t gone away. Kerr had to take two leaves of absences in the wake of the operation, but his recent contract extension is a sign that the issue is under control.

Stein’s Latest: Sixers, Warriors, Rockets, Nets

The Sixers’ much-anticipated offseason fell far short of expectations, Marc Stein of the New York Times opines in his latest newsletter (Sign-up link).

Philadelphia didn’t come close to signing either LeBron James or Paul George in the free agent market and couldn’t swing a deal with the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, Stein continues. With Leonard landing in Toronto, the Sixers no longer have a clear path to the conference finals. They’re also still looking for a GM and the most consequential moves they made were re-signing J.J. Redick and dealing for Wilson Chandler, Stein adds.

We have more of Stein’s insights:

  • The Warriors were the biggest winners in the offseason. They not only stunned the NBA world by signing DeMarcus Cousins but they also made some underrated moves, such as locking up coach Steve Kerr to a long-term contract and signing serviceable forward Jonas Jerebko.
  • The Rockets’ offseason has been unfairly criticized. Re-signing Clint Capela to a team-friendly contract was a major coup and they should extract more production out of Carmelo Anthony than any other team in the league could.
  • The Nets will be active on the free agent market next summer but they won’t spend money simply because they’ll have a lot of cap space. Kyrie Irving will be a target if he declines his player option and becomes a free agent.

Steve Kerr Signs Extension With Warriors

JULY 17, 6:00pm: Kerr has signed an extension, the team announced in a press release. “We’re excited to have Steve under contract and poised to lead our team for the next several years,” Warriors GM Bob Myers said in a statement.

JUNE 29, 9:01pm: Kerr will at least double his $5MM per year salary, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports.

6:23pm: The Warriors are finalizing a contract extension with head coach Steve Kerr, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes. The new deal will make him one of the highest paid coaches in the NBA.

The extension will build onto the reigning champion bench boss’ existing five-year contract, which he signed for a total of $25MM back in 2014. That was Kerr’s first contract as a head coach in the NBA, the retired player having previously served as an analyst and executive.

In four seasons with the Warriors franchise, Kerr’s squad has sported a legendary .808 winning percentage, claiming three titles along the way.