Shootaround (May 31) -- Steve Kerr not about to hang it up as coach
Plus, updates on Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball and more from around the NBA
Kerr not about to give up on coaching — Golden State’s Game 3 win against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round marked the last time Steve Kerr was on the Warriors’ sideline. Since then, assistant coach Mike Brown has filled in for Kerr and Golden State is in a third straight NBA Finals. Kerr is likely out for Game 1 of The Finals and whether or not he’ll coach in the series remains in doubt. But as Kerr recently told Tim Kawakami of The Mercury News, what isn’t in doubt is whether or not he’ll ever coach again:
I started today hoping to talk to Nick — who Steve Kerr confirmed will be moving to a video role with the San Antonio Spurs after this season — about going through all this with his father and about the coaching profession.
As part of this, Steve Kerr agreed today to talk about what Nick has meant to him … and then he also agreed to discuss his own situation at length, just two days before Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Cleveland.
Kerr is clearly feeling better than he has since he left the team in late-April — he ran practice today and yesterday for the first time, and took Brown’s place for the coach’s media session yesterday when Brown had the flu.
But as Kerr explains, this is no easy decision, with time running out, and the Finals are not just another bunch of games; also, he’s still not close to 100 percent.
I think you can hear how much Kerr is tempted to try, though. You can feel how much he wants to coach these games, but he knows this is not something to rush.
-Q: You look better, for sure, the last few days. Has there been a step forward the last few days?
-KERR: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve gotten a little better. Addressing the media yesterday, running practice the last
couple days, it’s been better.
So that’s good. We’ll see where it goes.
-Q: Is it an energy-level thing? Can you describe what it is you’re evaluating as you decide whether you can coach now?
-KERR: It’s a pain thing and the repercussions of pain. I’ve been dealing with it for almost two years. I’ve been able to deal with it for the most part.
It’s not a cognitive thing. It’s not even really an energy thing. It’s a pain thing. And the threshold is really important–what’s the threshold?
For whatever reason, I don’t know why, but a month ago, man, it got worse. You could see it, I’m sure, interviewing me.
-Q: Is there any worry that coming back could mess it up a little bit?
-KERR: I don’t think it would. With our team I don’t think it would. Like I said, we’re doing the same stuff.
I think just, it’s the Finals, there’s going to be a spotlight, is it a distraction? Is it another storyline? Do we need to deal with all that?
I don’t know. Ultimately I don’t think I can worry about that. I’ve got to play it by ear–if I’m feeling good I should coach and if I’m not feeling up to it, then I shouldn’t. And it’s that simple.
-Q: Did you know Mike was going to be this good walking into it?
-KERR: Oh yeah. Yeah.
-Q: Just like that?
-KERR: He’s got so much head-coaching experience. And the best thing is this didn’t happen in the beginning of the year. It happened in the end.
In the beginning of the year he didn’t understand our team. He really didn’t. It was such a different vibe in here for him. ‘Why aren’t we calling more plays?’ (Laughs.)
I think about half-way through the year he came to me and just said, ‘Man, I get it.’ It’s this balance between fun and work and discipline and craziness and order and chaos. And we’re constantly trying to find that balance.
Because ultimately we’re better when we have a little hair on fire.
You know. You’ve seen our team now. It’s always a dance. And we want to walk the line.
So I think Mike over the course of the year has really figured that out and he’s done a great job with it–since the playoffs started–of calling plays at the right time, making substitutions at a really good time, what he’s saying to the team, what he’s not saying.
And he’s done a great job of navigating an awkward situation, where I’m still the head coach, but he’s got to do what he thinks is right. And I’m not out there with him.
I’m trying to do the right thing, just supporting him behind the scenes.
I mean, it’s as good a situation as we could have under the circumstances. But that’s all based on the quality of people we have on the staff–that’s what makes it work. It’s not just Mike, it’s JC, it’s Ron, it’s Q, CD, Nick, Willie.
What we have has already been established. We’re all in this together. Nobody’s going to be coming to you going, ‘Psst, Steve would’ve called this play. I don’t know what’s doing. Or vice-versa. That’s not happening here.’
-Q: I’ll ask you now: Can you say that you definitely will coach again at some point?
-KERR: Hell yeah.
You know, it’s a little trickier, since this has been going on. I sort of assumed all last year that by the summer I’d get this thing knocked out.
It’s been kind of a mystery and that’s what so frustrating. But I have every intention to coach for a long time. It’s scary stuff and still hoping for a better resolution to it.
-Q: No matter what happens in the Finals, will you be coaching the start of next regular season?
-KERR: That’s the plan. But what’s the date–it’s May 30. I can’t promise anything, neither can Bob (Myers). We have to figure everything out this summer.
It’s a very unique situation, a very difficult situation for me personally and for Bob and Joe. It’s probably unprecedented.
One thing I know is that we’ll all work together. They’re going to want to do what’s best for me, I’m going to want to do what’s best for them. We’ll figure out whatever that is.
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Fultz says he wants to be No. 1 pick — Whether they ultimately end up keeping the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 Draft or, perhaps, trading it before hand or on Draft night, the Boston Celtics have options with that selection. As they weigh all that out, there’s still the very real possibility of the Celtics deciding to take Washington’s Markelle Fultz, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball or any other top prospect with the pick. For his part, Fultz wants to be in Boston come 2017-18, writes Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com:
Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, the potential No. 1 pick of the NBA draft, said Tuesday that he has had multiple conversations with Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge since the draft combine earlier this month and that he is hopeful he will be selected first overall on June 22.
“I’ve talked to Danny a few times, and they want to get me to come out there for a visit,” Fultz told ESPN. “They just want to get a chance to know me better as a person.”
“I want to be the No. 1 pick really bad,” Fultz added. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and I feel like I would fit well in Boston.”
Fultz said he has yet to firm up a day when he will visit the Celtics, who acquired the rights to the No. 1 pick through a 2013 trade with the Brooklyn Nets. He will likely work out for management and coaches. He did meet with Boston and a few other teams earlier this month while in Chicago before the draft combine.
Fultz said he has never been to Boston, but he has watched the Celtics closely through their postseason run that ended last week in the Eastern Conference finals.
“I don’t know a ton about the city,” Fultz said. “I know the tradition the franchise has, and that the fans are crazy.”
Fultz has developed a relationship with Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas, who also attended the University of Washington. He said the pair met on his recruiting visits and have stayed in touch since. Thomas, also a point guard, is coming off a career season and has one year left on his contract.
“We can both play on or off the ball,” Fultz said. “We can both score and also pass. I think we’d be great together. When we’ve talked since the lottery, we haven’t really talked about basketball much. He’s been through a lot lately.”
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Report: Lakers, Ball have workout scheduled — Two weeks ago today, news came out that UCLA guard Lonzo Ball “politely” declined a pre-Draft workout for the Boston Celtics. The word for months has been that Ball and his camp want the Los Angeles Lakers — who hold the No. 2 overall pick — to take him on Draft night. Whether that happens or not is up in the air, but he has set up a workout date with the Lakers, writes Shams Charania of The Vertical:
Lonzo Ball will work out for the Los Angeles Lakers on June 7, the first step toward possibly becoming the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, league sources told The Vertical.
Ball, 19, has scheduled his visit with his hometown team to meet with the front office and coaches and participate in an individual workout. Ball had always planned to conduct only a private individual workout because of his success in his lone season at UCLA and never considered a one-on-one workout against another top prospect, league sources said.
The Lakers’ front office worked with Ball’s agent, Harrison Gaines, to finalize the workout details. The Lakers are the only predraft workout scheduled for Ball as of now, but he could add one or two meetings with teams near the top of the draft, league sources said.
For the Lakers, improving the roster’s culture and winning pedigree have been emphasis points during the predraft process. Ball helped improve the Bruins from a 15-17 record in 2015-16 to 31-5 this past season.
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Report: Clippers interested in hiring Jerry West — NBA legend Jerry West is just three days removed from his 79th birthday and is still going strong in league circles. He’s currently working as an advisory role for the Golden State Warriors — a job he has held for several years now — and, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the LA Clippers want him to leave his job there to be an advisor for them:
The LA Clippers have expressed interest in hiring NBA legend Jerry West away from the Golden State Warriors, sources told ESPN.
League sources told ESPN that the Clippers would like to bring West into their organization in an advisory capacity, similar to the role he has held with the Warriors since May 2011.
Other undisclosed teams, sources said, have made similar runs at West, who is under contract with Golden State through July as a member of its executive board and has been asked by Warriors owner Joe Lacob to stay with the franchise.
Lacob told the Mercury News earlier this month that — even though contract talks with West have been postponed until after the looming NBA Finals — he is determined not to lose him.
If the Clippers are successful in convincing West to leave the Warriors after a six-year run, it would prove to be an undeniable booster shot for their organization in terms of credibility and know-how.
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Report: Bucks get permission to speak to front-office GM candidates — Just weeks ago, the Magic hired away longtime Milwaukee Bucks GM John Hammond as Orlando restructures a section of its front office. Since then, the Bucks have had rumored interest in several candidates to fill Hammond’s role. As Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports, the Bucks have gotten permission from several other NBA front offices to speak to candidates on Milwaukee’s interview list:
As assistant general manager Justin Zanik has started to operate the Milwaukee Bucks on a day-to-day basis, the franchise was granted permission to speak to several outside front-office executives in its search for a permanent GM, league sources told The Vertical.
As a precursor to possible interviews, Milwaukee made calls on Tuesday to inquire about Indiana vice president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie, Denver assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas, Memphis Grizzlies VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski and Atlanta Hawks special adviser to ownership Wes Wilcox, league sources told The Vertical.
The Bucks have hired a search firm to assist in the process, and there are expected to be more candidates contacted about the job, league sources told The Vertical.
Zanik remains a strong internal candidate for the job, league sources told The Vertical. He joined the Bucks in 2016 after three years as assistant GM of the Utah Jazz.
Stefanski has history with Bucks coach Jason Kidd and team consultant Rod Thorn, whom he worked closely with in New Jersey. Stefanski was Thorn’s top assistant in the Nets’ run to consecutive NBA Finals appearances and led the Sixers to three playoff appearances in four years as GM, including the drafting of Jrue Holiday (No. 17 overall in 2009) and Nikola Vucevic (No. 16 overall in 2011).
Under Wilcox and president/coach Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks won 48 and 43 games the past two seasons, replenishing the roster with young players and significant assets moving forward, including 11 draft picks over the next three years.
Karnisovas was a finalist for the Brooklyn Nets GM job a year ago, finishing runner-up to Sean Marks. Karnisovas, a two-time Olympic medalist for Lithuania, has moved up rapidly in the NBA, including stops in the league office, Houston and now under GM Tim Connelly in Denver.
Dinwiddie has risen in the Pacers’ front office and evolved into ownership’s and ex-president Larry Bird’s personal choice – as well as new president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard’s choice – to move into a senior front-office role with the Pacers. Dinwiddie has earned significant praise from Bird and longtime Pacers president and consultant Donnie Walsh. Dinwiddie is completing his 11th season with the Pacers.
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