Steve Kerr

Kerr Considered Favorite To Succeed Popovich As Team USA Coach

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has emerged as the frontrunner to replace Gregg Popovich as the head coach of Team USA, league sources tell Marc Stein of Substack. Popovich, the Spurs‘ head coach, is stepping down from his position with USA Basketball following his team’s gold medal victory at the Tokyo Olympics.

USA Basketball is undergoing some changes this year, with Grant Hill recently succeeding Jerry Colangelo as the managing director of the program. Naming a new head coach is the first major move that Hill will have to make as part of his new role. He said earlier this month that he hopes to finalize the decision before the start of the NBA regular season on October 19.

As Stein writes, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is viewed as another strong candidate for Team USA’s head coaching position, but Kerr has more international experience, having served as an assistant to Popovich during the 2019 FIBA World Cup as well as the Tokyo Olympics. Spoelstra was involved in the lead-up to the Olympics as well, coaching the U.S. Select Team, but he wasn’t part of the group that traveled to Tokyo.

Kerr’s experience coaching several star players in Golden State and competing in five consecutive NBA Finals makes him a natural fit to manage Team USA’s star-studded rosters and to handle the pressure of international competitions. He also recently confirmed that he’d have interest in the job.

“Of course I’d be interested. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I’ll leave it at that,” Kerr told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic in August. “I have no idea how it will all transpire; there are a lot of great candidates out there. And if I were to be considered, that would be an honor.”

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Mayo, Mejri

Grant Hill has taken over as USA Basketball’s managing director and one of his first tasks is to find a replacement for coach Gregg Popovich. Hill told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears that he plans to hire a new coach before the NBA season begins on October 19.

Candidates that have previous experience with USA Basketball will have the upper hand, according to Spears. That group would include Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, Jay Wright, Doc Rivers, Nate McMillan, Monty Williams, Tom Thibodeau, Erik Spoelstra and Jeff Van Gundy.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard O.J. Mayo has reached an agreement with Russia’s Unics Kazan, Sportando relays. Sport-Business.ru was first to report the news. Mayo was banned by the NBA in 2016 for violating the league’s drug program. Mayo has recently played in China.
  • Former Mavericks big man Salah Mejri has reached an agreement with Al Jahra in Kuwait, according to Sportando. Mejri appeared in 204 games with Dallas from 2015-19.
  • In case you missed it, Jarrell Brantley is expected to sign with a Russian team after being waived by the Jazz. Get the details here.

Pacific Notes: Kerr, Buss, Clippers, Durant, Green

The mantra for the Warriors this coming season appears to be “balance,” writes Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. According to Johnson, the way the team has re-balanced through its veteran signings and draft class is one of the main things that excites head coach Steve Kerr coming into the season.

I think this year’s team will offer a much better mix of mentors and veterans to go along with those young guys,” Kerr said on the latest episode of Dubs Talk podcast. “… It’s real exciting to think of the structure of the team and the balance and what we can accomplish.”

After two straight years of missing the playoffs, Kerr says he feels the team is back to a level where it can compete every night, especially once star Klay Thompson returns from his two-year hiatus due to ACL and Achilles injuries.

It’s really hard to gauge where we are against the rest of the Western Conference,” Kerr said. “Obviously there’s a lot of great teams. We haven’t even had a practice to put the group together. But I’m very excited about the potential.”

We have more news from around the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers owner Jeanie Buss recently sat down with Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. In the interview, she describes why the legacy of her father’s Showtime Lakers impels her to build not just a great basketball team, but a stylish one. She talks about why she doesn’t like the play-in tournament, why Kobe Bryant‘s 20-year run with a single team is unlikely to be repeated, and says “our fans are going to be just cuckoo for (Russell Westbrook), are going to be so happy that he’s here.
  • The Clippers may not have shaken up their roster in a major way, but Summer League provided some reasons for excitement, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. No. 51 pick Brandon Boston outperformed expectations, knocking down shots and creating off the dribble, No. 33 pick Jason Preston overcame a rough start to show his ability to orchestrate the offense and get into the paint, while hyper-athletic wings Jay Scrubb and Keon Johnson both showcased why they’re intriguing talents while also laying bare the flaws that could keep them off the floor early on.
  • In a much-discussed interview with Bleacher Report, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green explored the last year of their time together with the Warriors, as well as their infamous blow-up in November of 2018. As Nick Friedell of ESPN explores, Durant and Green blamed head coach Steve Kerr and president of basketball operations Bob Myers for mishandling the response to that dust-up. “Y’all are about to f— this up,” Green said he told the Warriors front office. “I said, ‘The only person that can make this right is me and (Durant). And there is nothing that y’all can do, and y’all are going to f— this up.’ And in my opinion, they f—ed it up.” In response, Durant said, “I think so too.”

California Notes: Iguodala, Bledsoe, Metu, Longabardi

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is excited to have veteran swingman Andre Iguodala back for his second stint with the club, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He means the world to us,” Kerr told Poole, echoing a sentiment he recently expressed to The Athletic. “The last two seasons, we’ve been somewhat rudderless in many ways. I suspect we’re going to get our rudder back with Andre.”

Iguodala signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract with Golden State after spending the last two seasons with the Grizzlies (for whom he never played) and Heat.

There’s more out of California:

  • The Clippers‘ reunion with point guard Eric Bledsoe received an A-minus grade from Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Bledsoe was re-acquired in a trade this week that sent point guards Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo and center Daniel Oturu to the Grizzlies. Pelton praised the cost savings of the deal, which will amount to a reduction of about $30MM off L.A.’s luxury tax bill. Pelton also notes that the younger, more durable Bledsoe could prove to be an on-court upgrade for the Clippers as well, though he struggled in recent playoff appearances with the Bucks.
  • Fourth-year Kings center Chimezie Metu has been suspended for one Summer League game after punching two-way rookie Mavericks forward Eugene Omoruyi in the head during the fourth quarter of an eventual 86-70 win Sunday, per an NBA press release (Twitter link). Metu will miss the Summer League title game on Tuesday against the Celtics.
  • The Kings will be hiring Mike Longabardi as a front-of-bench assistant coach, per Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). Longabardi, most recently an assistant with the Wizards since 2019, won the 2008 title as a Celtics assistant and the 2016 championship as a Cavaliers assistant.

Warriors Notes: Bjelica, Porter, Poole, Rookies, Iguodala, Kerr

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes that adding veteran forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter in free agency should help make Golden State a better three-point shooting team in 2021/22, as he tells Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.

Kerr called the signing of Bjelica “really exciting,” pointing out that the Warriors haven’t really had a floor-spacing, pick-and-pop big man since Marreese Speights, who generally shot from the mid-range rather than from beyond the arc.

“I look at Bjelica as the three-point-shooting version of Mo, in many ways,” Kerr said. “Because all of a sudden, you’re looking at a spaced floor when you consider Klay (Thompson)‘s return and Steph (Curry)‘s play last year. The ability to play Bjelica with Draymond (Green), which basically turns Draymond into the five and the pick-and-roll guy with Bjelica spaced. Really exciting.”

Kerr also praised Porter, referring to him as a player who can guard multiple positions on defense and who isn’t just “going to stand in the corner” on offense.

“The whole thing with Otto is health now,” Kerr told Kawakami. “He feels like he’s healthy and we’re going to give him every opportunity to get himself in shape and in rhythm. If he can return to form, then he’s a really, really interesting player for us. Somebody who could play an important role.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Asked by Kawakami about lineup and rotation decisions to start the season, Kerr predicted that Jordan Poole will be the Warriors’ starting shooting guard until Thompson is ready to play, and said it’s “impossible to say” yet whether either Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody will play regular minutes.
  • Kerr recognizes that trading Andre Iguodala in 2019 was necessary in order to get below the hard cap, but is thrilled to have the veteran forward back in Golden State, as Kawakami relays. “I think when we lost him, we lost a piece of our soul,” Kerr said of Iguodala. “… Andre’s return, I think, is huge in a lot of different ways. First, he’s still got plenty to offer, as he showed in Miami the last two seasons. So his addition on the court will be huge for us. And second, he just embodies everything we’re about — versatility, sacrifice, the clear defining of roles, the mentoring that he brings for the younger guys. You throw all that into the equation and Andre is just an enormous addition for us.”
  • Kerr, who won a gold medal in Tokyo as an assistant coach for Team USA, was asked by Kawakami if he’d be interested in becoming the club’s head coach in 2024, assuming Gregg Popovich doesn’t return. His reply: “Of course I’d be interested. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I’ll leave it at that. I have no idea how it will all transpire; there are a lot of great candidates out there. And if I were to be considered, that would be an honor.”
  • The Warriors issued a press release today officially announcing a series of previously-reported additions to Kerr’s coaching staff, including Kenny Atkinson, Dejan Milojevic, and Jama Mahlalela.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Wiseman, Atkinson, Brown, Draft

Recovering Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson isn’t participating in full contact workouts yet, but he’s “starting to really get movement on the court,” head coach Steve Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Thompson continues to rehab from an Achilles tear he suffered in November 2020.

“He’s still a ways away from actually playing basketball in a 5-on-5 setting,” Kerr said. “But there’s a big step with the Achilles when you can actually start running again. It’s a huge psychological boost. The rest of the body gets going, you start feeling the soreness and aches and pains that actually feel good when you’ve been out for a while. He’s at that point.”

Kerr addressed a few other topics of note during his conversation with Slater. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Coming off knee surgery that ended his rookie season, James Wiseman is “right on schedule for everything,” according to Kerr, who says the expectation is still that the young center will be ready for training camp.
  • Discussing the addition of Kenny Atkinson as an assistant coach, Kerr said he was worried about “groupthink” with the current staff and believes Atkinson will bring a new perspective to the group. “Very clever. Very analytically driven,” Kerr said of Atkinson. “We’ve had a lot of basketball conversations over the years and I’ve always been impressed with the way he sees and feels the game. In a way, it’s different from me.”
  • Mike Brown has been Kerr’s associate head coach for the last several years, making him the lead assistant on the staff. Atkinson has a claim to that role too, but neither coach is concerned about the title, according to Kerr. “I talked to Kenny about titles. He didn’t care. I talked to Mike, said I was interviewing Kenny and hadn’t talked title. Mike said, ‘I don’t care either,'” Kerr told Slater. “To me, they’re just both assistant coach. Both guys are comfortable in their own skin.”
  • Kerr said he isn’t as involved this year in scouting and evaluating draft prospects because of the Olympics and his commitment to Team USA, but he’s excited about what the Warriors will be able to do with the seventh and 14th overall picks. “Based on what I’ve watched on tape, I’ve seen a few guys who can play right now,” Kerr said. “You can go that route or go the younger route, get a prospect. Maybe you get one of each. Get one guy who is ready now and one guy who may pop in a few years. Who knows. But I think we’re in a really good position asset-wise to look at everything.”

Pacific Notes: Simmons, Wiseman, Green, Kerr

It’s unlikely the Kings could put together a trade package that would allow them to acquire Ben Simmons from the Sixers, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Philadelphia is seeking an All-Star caliber player for Simmons and Sacramento is unlikely to make Tyrese Haliburton or De’Aaron Fox available.

Ham speculates the Kings could try to package Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley and the No. 9 overall pick or Harrison Barnes, Bagley and the same pick and see if Philadelphia would be interested.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors can take their cue from the Suns in order to get the most out of James Wiseman, Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. Deandre Ayton is a major reason why Phoenix advanced to the Finals, mainly due to the fact he’s become a prolific rebounder while getting fewer touches on offense. The Warriors need their bigs to thrive near the rim and help them get extra possessions, and that should be Wiseman’s main focus, Andrews adds.
  • Suns assistant Willie Green is reportedly a candidate for all three remaining head coaching jobs around the league and Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic takes a closer look at how Green would fit in with the Wizards, Pelicans and Magic. Green isn’t in a rush to get a head coaching job. “It’s definitely a goal, but I don’t feel like a need to chase that goal,” he said.
  • With Draymond Green playing for Team USA and Steve Kerr on the coaching staff, the Warriors could reap long-term benefits by building relationships with star players that could eventually land in Golden State, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area speculates. The Olympics present a low-key method for franchises to recruit players, Poole adds.

Kerr: No Regrets On Wiseman Plan; Changes Coming

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has “no regrets” about the organization’s decision to force-feed lottery pick James Wiseman in the early stages of this season, he told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic in a wide-ranging interview.

After Klay Thompson suffered another season-ending injury prior to the draft, the Warriors brass decided that this season would be “about getting ready for next year in a lot of ways,” Kerr said. Getting Wiseman acclimated to the NBA game became a higher priority.

“No regrets at all. I think it made perfect sense to start him right away,” Kerr said of the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft. “And then I think we started him for the first 16, 17 games, and at that point, that’s when I decided to start (Kevon) Looney. And that decision felt right, too, because we’d given him a good month or so, month and a half, bigger sample size so we knew what we were dealing with.”

Wiseman’s season was cut short in early April by a knee injury. Stephen Curry‘s offensive efficiency numbers were much lower with Wiseman on the court but Kerr is confident they’ll coexist in the future. It’s likely Wiseman will come off the bench next season.

“The way I look at it, he’s 20 years old, unbelievably talented,” Kerr said. “I’ve said all these things many times, but it’s worth repeating. Twenty years old and talented and a great kid. Just be patient and he’s going to develop.”

There were several other notable statements made by Kerr during the interview. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • Staff changes will be made. “A staff is no different from a roster where you get a little stale and you need some new blood, you need some new energy, you need to maybe move some things around, move some pieces around, change roles. There’s a lot that we’re discussing.”
  • Roster changes will also be made and Kerr is seeking more veterans, regardless of positions. “You want size and shooting in the same package. You want (a player like) Andre Iguodala, you want somebody who can guard multiple positions and when you get into a playoff game you want somebody who can guard LeBron (James) or Kawhi (Leonard), those guys. But somebody who can also make plays offensively.”
  • Despite some serious back issues in prior seasons, Kerr is feeling much better physically and still has a zest for coaching. “It’s really a lot of fun for me. I have no plans on stepping down any time soon.”

Warriors Notes: Lee, Paschall, JTA, Bell, Kerr

Warriors wing Damion Lee, who is now out of quarantine, told reporters on Thursday that he contracted COVID-19 and dealt with a number of severe symptoms, as Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area details. Lee dealt with a bad case of the virus despite being fully vaccinated, which makes him a rare case, according to data compiled by the CDC.

“I felt like I was hit by two cars at once,” Lee said. “Every step I took, it hurt. There was pain, soreness, it felt like there was a weight on my chest for a couple of days. It was hard to breathe. Loss of appetite, and even still I don’t have my appetite all the way back. Even random headaches, brain fog where I’ll start a conversation and be in on the conversation and then five minutes in, I lose track of what I was talking about or just don’t want to talk anymore.”

Although he was able to return to the team this week, Lee isn’t ready to take the court yet, and with just over a week remaining in the regular season, it’s not clear whether or not he’ll return at all. Noting that the Warriors are likely to take a cautious approach with Lee, Anthony Slater of The Athletic believes the 28-year-old may have played his last game of 2020/21.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Of the Warriors’ injured players, Eric Paschall is closest to a return, according to Slater, who say the second-year forward is ramping up his conditions and will likely make it back during Golden State’s current home stand.
  • The Warriors will have to add a 14th man to their roster by the middle of next week, and Slater expects Juan Toscano-Anderson to fill that spot, receiving a promotion from his two-way deal. That could open the door for Jordan Bell, whom the Warriors are reportedly eyeing, to take Toscano-Anderson’s spot on a two-way contract.
  • Warriors head coach Steve Kerr spoke to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic about the lessons he has learned during a challenging 2020/21 season. Golden State is 12-16 this season in “clutch” games (games within five points in the last five minutes), which is an area Kerr feels he can help improve. “Definitely some things that I can do better. Just little detail things,” he said. “What happens when you lose some close ones, you tend to think about every single decision you made. Obviously there’s a greater chance that one decision can make a difference in the game just because you have less margin for error. So less margin for error means I gotta be on my game.”
  • In case you missed it, Kelly Oubre will miss at least a week or two due to his wrist injury.

California Notes: Bagley, Toscano-Anderson, Warriors, Lakers

The future remains murky for oft-injured Kings power forward Marvin Bagley III, a talented scorer who still needs to develop on defense, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic.

On Sunday, during his second game back after his latest injury, a left hand bone fracture that kept him sidelined for 22 contests, Bagley showed flashes of the potential that made him so highly coveted out of Duke, racking up 23 points and nine rebounds. The Kings selected Bagley with the No. 2 draft pick in 2018 ahead of future All-Stars Luka Doncic and Trae Young.

“Obviously nobody plans to get a hand caught in a jersey and break your hand, but you can’t control things like that,” Bagley said of his latest injury for the Kings. “What I could control was how I prepared to come back and things that I was doing to make sure I was ready when I did come back.”

Sacramento previously picked up Bagley’s $11.3MM player option for 2021/22. As Jones writes, while Bagley was rumored to be a potential trade candidate in March, the Kings couldn’t find a deal that would net them enough of a return to be worth pursuing.

There’s more out of California:

  • Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has liked what he’s seen out of forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, writes Alex Espinoza of NBC Sports Bay Area. Currently inked to a two-way deal with Golden State, has fought his way into the Warriors’ rotation through his moxie and hustle, averaging 5.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 2.4 APG across 19.5 MPG. “We’ll see how it plays out,” Kerr said to reporters about a potential long-term deal with Toscano-Anderson after this season. “Juan is clearly a very effective NBA player. We’d like to have him here for a long time.”
  • Though the Warriors have been waylaid by injuries that have impacted their roster depth, they currently have two roster spots empty in a calculated cost-saving decision. Anthony Slater of The Athletic wonders if the club’s choice warrants further scrutiny, considering that it still fighting for a play-in tournament spot during a standout year from All-Star point guard Stephen Curry.
  • Lakers guard Alex Caruso has had to take on more play-making duties for Los Angeles with key ball-handlers LeBron James and Dennis Schroder both sidelined, as Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes.