The Golden State Warriors, like every team in the NBA these days, are in the midst of the season’s hiatus that began in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The long layoff since Golden State’s last game on March 10, however, has left Warriors coach Steve Kerr feeling like 2019-20 is already over.
Kerr said Tuesday in an hour-long video conference call in conjunction with the University of San Francisco that he can place how he’s feeling about the season these days.
“It feels like the offseason,” Kerr said, per The Mercury News. “And in fact we had a Zoom call, (general manager) Bob Myers and I got on a Zoom with our players, our whole roster last week. And it was just a chance to check in, but it was also a chance for Bob to update the players on his contact with the league and the latest news, but it also kind of felt like our annual team exit meeting.
“Our coaching staff and I have been undergoing staff evaluations, offseason plans, so we are absolutely in offseason mode right now.
However, Kerr and his staff are not fully embracing this “offseason mode”, even as it seems to be the prevailing mood.
“What we’re doing now is planning for that moment when our practice facility is opened back up,” Kerr said. “Once that happens, we want to be ready with a plan. And the plan has to include all the guidelines that will be put in place. … We’ve got to have all the safety and health precautions mapped out.”
Granted, Golden State’s season has not been on par with its previous five campaigns in which it reached The Finals. At 15-50, the Warriors have the worst record in both the Western Conference and the NBA and are on pace for their worst season since a 19-63 finish in 1999-2000. Injuries sacked the Warriors’ hopes in 2019-20, as All-Stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were injured for either part or all of the season.
Kerr said the season’s hiatus was a little easier to handle given the Warriors’ current plight, but said he spoke with other coaches on teams in a different state than his.
“The suspension came at an interesting time, and it really made a difference, depending on where your team stood in the standings,” Kerr said. “So I’ve talked to some of my fellow coaches who are coaching teams that are right in the thick of the playoff hunt. They’re trying desperately to stay in touch with their team, some of them are even doing group workouts on Zoom with their training staff, and they’re trying to find hoops for their players to shoot at where they’re able to do so.
“It’s different for us because we were down to 17 games, but we were out of the playoffs. It feels like the end of the season for our team. It just does.”
Tuesday’s call, led by basketball Hall of Famer Jennifer Azzi, included Warriors president and COO Rick Welts, who outlined how he has been trying to stay in contact with his employees since the season stopped. That has included virtual town hall meetings that have included guests like Kerr, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and Warriors owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob.
“We have a lot of 20-somethings who are living alone right now, who aren’t like Steve or me, when we’re home with our families every day and have some space, but are really isolated socially,” Welts said. “It’s kind of the untold story, I think, we focus on the truly medical side of the virus. The mental health side, I think, is increasingly important to address because we as human beings, we were not wired to operate this way. And you can start to see the frustration that people are having in following guidelines as best we can, but we need more than that as human beings.”
The season hiatus has not been all negatives for Kerr, though. Given the Warriors’ record, they figure to have a top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and Kerr said he and his staff are trying to look ahead to 2020-21, regardless of what happens to the rest of the 2019-20 campaign.
“I think what we’ve tried to do as a staff is take more time than we’ve ever had before to really self-reflect, to really examine what we’ve done, what we’d like to do going forward,” Kerr said. “And we’re in a pretty unique position because we’ve come off an incredible five-year run and then this season, where we had the worst record in the NBA and we went through all kinds of injuries and everything else. And so this whole experience, this last six years for us, as a coaching staff, as an organization, we’ve pretty much seen everything, and yet what I realize now is very rarely have we had the chance to actually sit down and examine everything.”
The NBA announced on Monday that May 8 would be the earliest it would allow limited workouts at team facilities in select cities. And when those facilities reopen, the rules will be strict. The May 8 date is far from firm, the NBA said, warning teams that it “may push this timing back if developments warrant.” The league planned on giving teams the option of reopening facilities as early as Friday, though ultimately decided more time was needed across the league for many reasons.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.