This week the Golden State Warriors announced that Steve Kerr will be the teams new head coach. It was a surprising move as many expected Kerr to follow Phil Jackson and coach the New York Knicks. Over recent days the speculation surrounding as to why Kerr spurned the Knicks for the Warriors has grown immensely. Obviously the number one factor was the talent gap between the two teams, but there’s also been some pondering about what went on behind the scenes with New York, Phil Jackson and James Dolan. With all this floating around and everyone playing the guessing games as to what actually happened, I pose this question; is Steve Kerr the right man for the job?
Seemingly out of nowhere Kerr became the hottest name on the market, pretty astounding for someone with no prior coaching experience. As a play-by-play man for TNT he expressed his knowledge for the game, his intellect and various opinions. But for what has transpired with the Warriors over the past three years, I’m just not so sure he is the right man for the job.
Granted, no one knows how good of a coach Kerr will be, if he will run the infamous triangle offense, heck, for all we know he could be just what the Warriors needed. But, this is a team that’s coming off 51 ones, their second playoff appearance in a row, with a good nucleus in place. They previously hired a rookie coach, one who was in Kerr’s same position before taking the job in Mark Jackson. After a one year struggle, Jackson turned the team around into a 50+ win ball club. He got the Warriors to commit to defense, but couldn’t quite get the offense to flow, sometimes letting it become to stagnate, settling for Steph Curry and Klay Thompson one-on-one play or meaningless post-ups with Harrison Barnes.
The Warriors have the talent to make noise in the Western Conference for years to come, they have a stout defense, but had a limited offensive scheme. What they needed to make the next leap, into the conference elite’s, title contenders, was to hire someone with a vast amount of experience. One who can prepare the team for the long-haul, knows how to prepare their players day in and day out. The one knock on former coach Mark Jackson, was that he didn’t always prepare his team the best, scouting reports, practicing, etc. Again, who knows, Steve Kerr, who played under coaches Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich may have something under his sleeve, a perfect plan of attack for this team.
Nonetheless, my argument here is that for this team, they needed an experienced coach to get them to the promise land. And coaches as such, were out there. Coaches like Mike D’Antoni, George Karl, Stan Van Gundy, Alvin Gentry and even Lionel Hollins. Obviously Van Gundy turned away from the Warriors due to lack of control over player personnel. There could also be an argument against Hollins that he would be another Jackson, pure defense and motivator, but he was someone who transformed the Memphis Grizzlies and took them to the Western Conference Finals. Alvin Gentry had a short stint with Phoenix, but he’s been in the league as a coach for years and is currently under one of the best in Doc Rivers.
Now, I can probably hear the laughter, seeing D’Antoni being on that list, but the man is a great coach. In Phoenix, he made their offense one of the best in the league for numerous years, “7 seconds or less.” And you can’t knock him for what happened with the Lakers, he didn’t have much to work with and what he did manage to do with them was damn impressive. He has the vast offensive knowledge that could have transformed the Warriors offense into the dangerous one we thought it would be under Jackson.
George Karl, what more could one ask for? He’s been to the conference finals, and the finals. In his 25 years of coaching, he’s only missed the playoffs three times. Karl has coached some of the great players in this league, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ray Allen, Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson, Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson. He has the experience, he’s coached some of the greats, for the Warriors, he would’ve been a great fit for the given situation.
But, as we all know, in the NBA there is a culture each team creates, and clicks within the NBA. Steve Kerr fit the culture in Golden State and it was widely known that he and Warriors owner Jacob Lacob were the best of friends, premier golfing buddies. Kerr was Lacob’s top option from the get-go, even with all the signs pointing to Kerr to the Knicks.
Lacob knew who he wanted and got him, though, what should have been asked is whether or not Kerr is the right man for the job. Were there better options out there for the Warriors given the team’s structure and personnel? I argue that there may be, but then again, who knows, maybe Steve Kerr is the right man for the job and we just don’t know it yet. Whatever the case may be, we’ll find out soon enough.