SBD/May 15, 2014/Franchises

Kerr Surprises All In Taking Warriors Job, Choosing Ascending Club Over Knicks Rebuild

Kerr has a long-standing relationship with Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob
TNT's Steve Kerr "agreed in principle to be the head coach of the Warriors on Wednesday, a decision that stunned an NBA community convinced" he would "reunite" with Knicks President Phil Jackson, according to Rusty Simmons of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Kerr "is expected to work out the final details of his contract with the Warriors in the next couple of days and then be introduced to Bay Area media Friday or Monday, depending on his schedule covering the playoff series between the Clippers and Thunder for TNT." Though Kerr "won three NBA titles with Jackson ... and was deep into negotiations with the Knicks, he decided that location, roster, ownership and contract were ultimately more important." Kerr "lives in San Diego and has children who are student-athletes" at Cal and the Univ. of San Diego. Moreover, Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob and team President & COO Rick Welts "have long-standing relationships with Kerr and his closest friends." They agreed on a five-year, $25M deal that puts Kerr, a first-time coach, "among the league's highest paid." The Warriors "long have wanted Kerr, even before firing" former coach Mark Jackson. The team also previously considered Kerr as a GM candidate when Lacob "was getting his feet wet as owner" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/15). YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski cited NBA execs as insisting that there "wasn't a bidding war, and that Kerr simply weighed the two stark differences in the job: a contender in his California home; and a rebuilding project with his old coach" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/14).

WARRIOR MENTALITY: Kerr said that his "previous relationships" with the Warriors' front office were a factor in his decision. Kerr: "[GM Bob Myers] 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." Kerr said of whether he will play a role in personnel decisions, "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." Kerr said of Joe Lacob, "What really stood out to me is the improvement in the organization since he took over, what's happened not just on the court but internally. ... I know the business side of the organization has been dramatically improved over the last couple years -- season-ticket sales, sponsorships, TV rights, everything is on the upswing. It just feels like this is a young, up-and-coming organization" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 5/15). In S.F., Ann Killion writes the Warriors "just beat out the Knicks for a coach" -- let that "sink in for a moment, long time Warriors Fans." Give Lacob and the Warriors "full credit for getting their man, the guy they had targeted from the start." Give Kerr credit for "stepping into arguably the most high pressure coaching situation since Pat Riley took over the Lakers" in '81. Lacob "gets what he wants -- well, except for a waterfront arena" in S.F. But, "other than that, he has proven that he will not be denied." The hire "was a huge coup for the Warriors, surprising the entire league and avoiding what was beginning to look like a typical Warriors’ belly flop" after firing Jackson (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/15).

A CALIFORNIA COUP: In Oakland, Marcus Thompson II writes the Warriors "set their sights on a guy, and they made it happen." They "have a penchant for doing that, landing the against-the-odds coup." Perhaps this trend "was foretold when Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors, surprising a fan base that just knew Larry Ellison would buy the team." There is "something to be said for a front office that can execute a plan even if it contradicts feasibility." The Warriors' ability to "target, plan and execute proved clutch this time, as it saved them from an elongated coaching search." It "won't end the scrutiny that came with firing Jackson, but it moves the conversation forward." The Warriors "desperately needed that to happen." They "wanted a credible hire to signify they still meant business about winning, they were still relevant and an ascending franchise" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/15). ESPN.com's Ethan Sherwood Strauss wrote Kerr's GM reputation is that of a "smart, intellectually curious manager who’s inclined to canvas multiple opinions." The latter quality is "something the Warriors crave after Jackson’s 'my way or the highway' approach" (ESPN.com, 5/14). USA TODAY's Sam Amick writes Kerr's coaching resume "looks exactly the same as Jackson's did" when Lacob "gave him his first chance back" in '11. That is why, "as Lacob sees it, this all makes perfect sense in the weirdest of ways." Lacob: "Look, we did pretty well with Mark Jackson. In the end, it wasn't working out, which only we can probably totally appreciate on the inside. ... We have an organization that's 200 people, and everyone has to get along and work together and that's just the way it worked out. …We went out and we wanted to find the best guy to lead this team to the next level." He added, "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." Lacob insists that "franchise centerpiece" G Stephen Curry "is in support of this move" (USA TODAY, 5/15).

HOLD THE PARADE: CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote the Warriors' head coaching job is a "great" one because most of the "pieces are in place, but it is also a constrictive one because most of the pieces are in place." This "is a triumph" for Lacob, Myers and Warriors Exec Board Member Jerry West. It is "splashy, it is out of the box." Still, we "have to wait to see if it is a triumph for the Warriors" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 5/14). CSNBAYAREA.com's Monte Pool wrote before the Warriors' "brain trust gets too giddy or the fans' projections get too lofty, everyone should take a moment to absorb the concept that even superior coaching may not deliver vastly improved results" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 5/14).
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