BREAKING NEWS: Steve Kerr to Coach the Warriors, Because Knicks

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

I mean…

I guess…


Yeah. After waiting for what seems like an eternity for the fair-haired Dane, Hamlet Kerr, to make up his noble mind, it seems as if he’s found a far prettier gal at the bar to go home with:

Steve Kerr has reached agreement on a five-year, $25 million contract to coach the Golden State Warriors, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Kerr passed on an opportunity to coach the New York Knicks and rejoin his former coach Phil Jackson, who is now running New York’s front office.

Honestly, we should’ve realized that if it was taking thiiiiiiiis long, something was up, and that perhaps he wasn’t as gung-ho to take the job as all the reports led us to believe. I’m sure we’ll get to spend the next few days soaking in scurrilous rumors as to why. I think the fact that the Warriors have a vastly superior roster is one, and the desire by Kerr to hang around the left coast, and (amazingly) more money. Someone (I’m assuming it wasn’t Phil Jackson) didn’t want to pony up some serious coin for a completely untested coach. That does make a ton of sense, in a vacuum. But once again, the only value Dolan had was an owner was his willingness to put a serious dent in MSG’s corporate ledger, and if he’s not going to do that, well…

(Yes, I’m assuming it was Dolan that refused to pay Kerr a King’s ransom.)

So yeah, this feels like yet another football straight to the groin, if only because Jackson’s stewardship of this wonky, so-called franchise was supposed to be a thing that’d convince people–coaches, free agents, good food vendors, whomever–that New York was a dandy place to call home.

To see him whiff this badly right out of the gate…well, it’s not good. If there is one silver lining in this fecal porridge (and don’t eat porridge that has heavy metals in them. Pro tip), it’s that maybe Phil will embark on an actual, honest-to-goodness coaching search with multiple interviews and whatnot. There are plenty of nifty candidates out there. College dudes like Kevin Ollie and Fred Hoiberg, a soon-to-be retiree like Derek Fisher, a really good, unheralded assistant like Tyronn Lue (really!) or David Fizdale, every ex-player that ever toiled under Jackson, and probably some folks we haven’t ever heard of.

I’d also like to state for the record that I am available and interested in the position. What I wrote in February 2012 is as true now as it was then:

More importantly, let’s get real, Jimbo. Unless Cablevision scientists have figured out a way to bring Red Holzman back from the dead, there isn’t a coach alive that would be able to pull this so-called team out of the gutter. I’ve got a much better solution. Why attempt the Sisyphean task of fixing the Knicks’ myriad, crippling flaws when it’s so much easier to simply change the narrative? This is America, after all. Here, we don’t sell the steak, we sell the sizzle! In place of the justly-deserved groans about Amar’e and Melo being unable to coexist and/or pinning all our hopes on the over-burdened back of Baron Davis, let’s just make the story about me, the deranged lunatic who will enter a pre-game press conference gnawing on an alley cat found outside the Sbarro’s next to the Garden bellowing, “To defeat Charlotte I must consume the beast’s life force! Bring me the still-beating, fat-clogged heart of Boris Diaw!!”

So, yeah. More Knicks sadz. Go Knicks.

UPDATE 9:37PM: Ian Begley has some sauces ‘splaining why the Kerr-Knicks marriage went south.

A source close to Kerr said the draw of working close to his San Diego home factored heavily into his decision. Another league source with knowledge of the negotiations said the Knicks preferred to sign Kerr to a four-year deal rather than the five-year pact he received from Golden State.

Multiple sources said Kerr told new Knicks president Phil Jackson he chose the Warriors for family reasons. Sources also said that Kerr preferred the Warriors’ job to the Knicks’ job all along, but it was a difficult decision because of his relationship with Jackson.

UPDATE 10:54PM: Some words from Steve himself, via David Aldridge, who originally broke the story. Pretty much everything we’ve said. I’m not entirely convinced it’s the whole story (when is it ever?), but this is Knickstown, Jake. You’re always asking yourself, “”Yes, I’m paranoid — but am I paranoid enough?”

It just felt like the right move on many levels,” Kerr said by phone Wednesday. “They have a good young team. The location is ideal. My daughter goes to Cal and plays volleyball. My oldest son is in college in San Diego and our youngest is a junior in high school. It’s just a short flight for them.”

Kerr said it was “agonizing” the last couple of weeks. Despite the speculation since before the end of the regular season that Kerr would take the New York job, his representatives have only been in talks with the Knicks the last two and a half weeks.

“It was so tantalizing on many levels,” Kerr said. “Number one, Phil Jackson. Number two, the Knicks are a flagship franchise, one of the great franchises in the league. The last two weeks have been agonizing, in talking with Phil and (general manager) Steve Mills. They’ve got really good people there and I do think they’re going to get it turned around there. The Knicks could not have been better in giving me the space to make a decision, especially when I had a game to do every other night.”

Three other teams tried to get in on discussions with Kerr about their teams, but Kerr was committed to seeing the talks with the Knicks through. But he couldn’t get the Warriors out of his mind.

“Ultimately, it was agonizing to say no to Phil because of what I think of him and what he’s done for my career,” said Kerr, who won three titles playing for Jackson in Chicago with the Bulls. “When Phil Jackson asks you to coach the Knicks, how do you say no? I think they’re going to turn it around, but going to be a big undertaking and it’s going to take time. The idea of doing that 3,000 miles from home, it just didn’t feel right.”

“I told Phil, ‘I think I have to pursue this other opportunity,’ Kerr said. “He gave me his blessing. He said go look at it, and do what was in my heart.”


“There’s no question that was one of the attraction points on New York, that’s an easier path,” Kerr said. “The biggest thing for me is, I want to be happy every day. I want to be in partnership with the people on the team. And the one thing that a lot of the coaches that I talked to said was, you have to have talent. And Golden State has talent.”


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Robert Silverman

Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times and at ESPN, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.

44 thoughts to “BREAKING NEWS: Steve Kerr to Coach the Warriors, Because Knicks”

  1. What was all that in the Nets game? You’re allowed to pass the ball in the last minute?

  2. So this clarifies things nice and quickly. Even Phil Jackson can’t take the stink off Dolan’s Knicks.

  3. I’m kinda ambivalent after all this posturing and rumors over the past few weeks. Don’t get me wrong..I was behind bringing Kerr in but only if Cartwright and Cleamons came with him. But I can’t say i’m upset that he chose another team because Kerr is even more unproven than Mark Jackson was when he took the job. I say that because during his playing career he was primarily a spot up shooter..learned from GREAT coaches..played alongside the best of the best..but he was never a “coach on the floor”. GS does has a far superior roster with a young star. I’m not sure if Kerr is good enough right now to push GS past the 51 wins that Mark Jackson left him to, but I wish him luck. Lotta pressure there for him. My only worry now is that Phil will resort to searching for guys that can run his system and nothing else. And that limits us to unfavorable coaches, in my mind, unless Phil decides to coach. I don’t want Byron Scott or Kurt Rambis or Bill Cartwright or Derek Fisher as the Knicks’ head coach. Fisher and Cartwright would be fine as lead assistants…but in THIS situation it wouldn’t be wise to have those 2 as head coaches. When Mark Jackson became HC of GS..he walked into a team that was already talented and primed for a playoff run. Think of how ugly it could get if say…Fisher got the job as Knick coach. Jason Kidd survived year 1 cuz he had veteran championship players and other reliable vets who could actually play. What would Fish have? Even if he has Cartwright and Cleamons as his top assistants..does he really have the chemistry with those guys that a Kerr would have? They all know the triangle, but can they work together? I’d like to see Billy Donovan, Thibs (if freed) or Shaka Smith considered. So..I’m with u Bob in saying maybe/hopefully Phil will a launch a REAL coaching search. For the record, I do think Fish will be a good coach..I’m just not sold on him going straight from player to HC.

  4. Just wow about Kerr. As for the playoffs, it’s tough to take seriously when the refs are the decisive participants. It’s not just the final plays, but how fouls are called all game long. It’s a much easier game when you can drive or manuever with impunity, plus get the whistle as often as not when you miss, while getting to play playground defense.

  5. As a Jets fan, this reminds me of when Bill Belichick went to the Pats. No I didn’t know if he was going to be a good coach or not. However the betrayal struck me as extremely odd. Former mentor now in charge of the organization, but his own protege didn’t want any part of it? It put an odd spin on things, which perhaps signified something wrong with the front office.

  6. Wow, I’m shocked. On the other hand, not sure how much it matters. Probably best for Kerr, and maybe a wake-up call for the Zen Master. Look, the Bulls were bummed when they were jilted by D’Antoni, but it worked out pretty good for them.

  7. You know, there is something positive to be had from this.

    Now, don’t get me wrong; I bought into the Steve Kerr is the next Pop/Phil/legendary coach hype the same as everyone else and I am very disappointed we didn’t get him (especially when the issue was apparently an extra year on the contract). But, really, unless the guy really does become the next great coach, this won’t really matter much to us in the short or long term.

    Further, and here’s where the positive spin comes in, this gives us a chance to really see what Phil Jackson the executive can/will do, rather than Phil Jackson the personality. Whatever his next moves end up being will tell us an awful lot about what we can expect over the next 5 years, Good or bad.

  8. The Knick have a bad roster, no draft picks, a bad cap situation, and a meddling buffoon of an owner. It’s a tough sell

  9. I’m not a Jets fan but I remember the Belichik thing a touch differently. It was reported that Parcells had just assumed Belichik was coming and had in fact said something publicly about it that Belichik thought presumptuous and annoyed him.

  10. Belichick resigned at the press conference introducing him as the new jets coach. And he wrote his resignation on a fucking napkin. That was so much worse than this.

  11. What’s crazy is no one has discussed a plan B…unless Jackson goes back on his word and coaches. This cannot portend well for resigning Melo. What other system coaches are out there?

  12. Disapointing to miss out on Kerr for sure, but 5 years for a rookie coach? Damn. That could potentially be a bullet dodged. Don’t get me wrong, but a 5 year 25 million dollar deal for a untried head coach seems like a pretty big commitment.

  13. This is going to be very very interesting. Phil has sort of cornered himself – he wants a “system” coach- in other words, triangle. How many guys really understand the triangle and haven’t already sucked at head coaching? a hot established college head coach (ie Billy Donovan) might think twice about coming because he’s established enough not to want Phil looking over his shoulder. Same with any established pro coach like JVG, who hates Phil anyway. So really you need a non established young guy willing to be mentored by Phil. Granted, I have no idea whether there are some of these guys out there, but the list can’t be long if he’s going to insist on the triangle.

    I actually wonder whether Phil will change his mind and coach for a year or two.

  14. Never, ever care about how much money a coach makes. They do not count against the salary cap. Coaching salaries are meaningless. It is not your money and it will not affect how much money Dolan spends on players.

  15. This is basically a worse version of Donnie Walsh talking about how great Russell Westbrook was. Then, though, it was not like Westbrook was going to fall to the Knicks anyways. Here, though, Kerr was talked up and it likely did hurt the Knicks. I thought Jackson making it so obvious that Kerr was his first and last choice was always a bad idea, but I also thought that Jackson just knew more than me and that he knew that Kerr would sign. Obviously that was wrong. So just a bad, bad job by Jackson.

  16. Reading that article it sounds like Kerr had a lot of other shit going on that played into his decision. This probably had some impact on the Knicks’ reluctance to offer him the years he wanted and even when they extended the offer to include a 4th year I think being close to home probably was the deciding factor.

    I wanted Kerr because I thought he’d be a great protege for Phil. That being said I don’t think he’s the only person out there qualified to handle this job. Personally I like Fred Hoiberg a lot. He hasn’t run the Triangle or it’s concepts much at ISU, but he values a lot of the same skill sets in terms of all 5 guys on the floor must be able to pass, handle the ball and shoot effectively. There is a lot of movement in his offense though he ran a lot of high PNR with 3 shooters or a spread 5 offense.

    The thing I like the most about Hoiberg is that coaching at Iowa State he had to unearth and develop a lot of talent be it unheralded recruits or college transfers. He also has some experience working in the Timberwolves’ front office which I think is a valuable experience, though not a necessary one. He’s somebody I’d like to see the Knicks go after.

    I expect Derek Fisher and Kevin Ollie’s names to surface as potential candidates.

  17. I don’t know about y’all, but I thought that Tony Parker was the MVP of game 5 tonight. Even though he played just 10 minutes, he created from Kawhi and Green all the way from the training room. Good job, Tony, for making everyone around you better.

  18. From Alan Hahn’s twitter:

    PJax on Kerr in April: “I know philosophically we share a strong connection. Whether he’s able to take a job like this, I don’t know.”

    I’d be surprised if Phil had no contingencies in place at all.

  19. It’s easy to feel bad about losing Kerr. The media narrative, which almost everyone bought into, was that Jackson-Kerr was the perfect tandem to run the next version of the knicks.
    Kerr knows the triangle; he has the same basketball philosophy as PJ, he knows a lot about the game strategy. Yeah, that’s important, but the main job of head coach is managing players. That’s a completely different skill set than knowing x’s and o’s. Leadership and communication are the biggest assets in coaching. Doc Rivers got it. Pop got it. Phil Jackson sure got it. Steve Kerr?

  20. This confirms something that we’ve long suspected about Steve Kerr: He’s smart.

  21. Hey. Hey guys. Just a thought.

    What if all of this was just a gigantic ruse to force the GSW (or whomsoever else) to overpay for a rookie coach? Not to damage them, but just as a way for Phil to help a friend? After all, before Phil entered the scene in NY, nobody was looking to hire Kerr as a coach. Are you really telling me Kerr deserves a 5yrs contract? Having never coached at any level? Look, Jason Kidd got a 3yrs+1 (team option) for 10.5 mln dollars. I like much more Steve Kerr as a person, but there is no question about the sheer difference in basketball experience between Kidd and Kerr.

    That said, I’m not entirely sold on what I’m saying because this looks like a PR bad hand for Phil, who is not known to lose many of them.

    That said again, I’m not disappointed a bit, unless we get a retread (Byron Scott? Jim Cleamons? Mark frigging Jackson? I could be on board if it’s Thibs, but would Thibs come here?) as our coach; in that case, this franchise is doomed forever and ever. If we hire Ollie, Hoiberg, even Fisher or Ron Harper, on the other hand, I think we’re fine. We’re going to spend less and there’s going to be a tidbit less pressure on them. I hope.

    (My very dark horse for this coaching position: Scottie Pippen! Yes I said it)

  22. Disappointed we didn’t get Kerr but don’t think it’s the end of the world. I think the roster is such that it will take a few years before the team is playing at its peak and was a perfect situation for a new head coach to learn from Phil. Kerr was the first choice but I would rather wait for the next Budenholzer type to be available. Likely the Knicks get an offensive mind that Phil can teach bits of the triangle with a few Phil disciples as assistants. I think Phil is smart so the Kerr thing doesn’t upset me that much.

  23. Farfa, I’ve considered Pippen, too. Doubt it will happen but it is an interesting idea.

    Question for y’all:

    I heard several large media outlets putting forward the idea that this is a knock against Dolan. That Kerr didn’t trust he wouldn’t be involved, and that Dolan wouldn’t give Phil the money to make the move.

    Is there any basis of truth in this, or are they all using Isola’s tweets as their source? I haven’t found anyone with any credible sources saying anything other than that Kerr just really wanted to be on the west coast and this was about lifestyle and family. But people are making it out to be “same old Dolan, meddling already.”

    I’m being a little lazy and piggybacking on all of you, but is there any non-Isola-based reason to believe Dolan didn’t support this?

  24. The two characteristics that distinguish Phil Jackson from nearly every sports franchise and most corporations are communication and patience. Unless Dolan “sabotaged” Jackson’s efforts, then the real loser here will be Kerr. He could have learned from Jackson, Phil, now he’ll become Jackson, Mark.

    So, let’s move on. Derek Fisher, who’s shown leadership skills both on and off the court, should be offered the position and Cleamons and Cartwright, would be excellent assistants. Phil will, of course, be the guiding factor, in the background.

    Next, determine Carmelo’s commitment to winning, will he play for less. If he is, sign him, if not move on. Build the roster the way the Bulls and Lakers were built and most importantly, give Knicks fans their monies worth.

  25. (My very dark horse for this coaching position: Scottie Pippen! Yes I said it)

    I’ve already tricked my heart into accepting Phil Jackson. Pretty sure it would revolt and explode if Scottie Pippen turned into a Knicks coach.

    Besides – I’m pretty sure a player that refused to come into a game because the last shot wasn’t called for him is not going to get a head coaching gig anytime soon.

    I think Phil is going to coach for a year, hire assistants that have potential, and then pass the reins as soon as he thinks one of them is ready.

    If not, one thing to watch for is that Phil had said in the past that he likes “system basketball” – but he also said the system doesn’t HAVE to be the Triangle. He sort of went back on that in later interviews, but now that Kerr has left him at the altar, maybe he’ll have to reconsider.

  26. Meanwhile, you guys should read some of netw3rk’s feed from last night re: Lacob and Kerr – hilarious. Gist is some of the 0.1%ish comments from Lacob about Kerr–

    – they know each other through golf and because they’re trustees at the same private schools – “you know, rich white guy shit”

    @netw3rk: Wait, Lacob knows Kerr through golfing and named his dogs after Ayn Rand characters? Can you even make this shit up?

  27. I heard several large media outlets putting forward the idea that this is a knock against Dolan. That Kerr didn’t trust he wouldn’t be involved

    Well, apparently Doc Rivers didn’t do any due diligence on his owner before getting into bed with him. Maybe Kerr looked at how that turned out.

  28. “Besides – I’m pretty sure a player that refused to come into a game because the last shot wasn’t called for him is not going to get a head coaching gig anytime soon.”
    The Knicks welcomed a guy who choked his last coach and another guy who started the biggest player/fan melee in the history of American sports as players. I don’t they would have a problem welcoming a guy who had one brain fart as a player but, other than that, had a pretty spectacular career.

  29. I don’t put much credence to the tweets after Kerr accepted the offer from the Warriors from Isola. If he knew Dolan was meddling and holding the deal up this entire time why did he all of a sudden only report it after the fact? Why would his sources only reveal this after Kerr had signed the contract with the Warriors. Sounds like BS to me. I actually think the Knicks were hesitant to give Kerr a 5 year deal because of his reservations about moving across the country and being away from his family for the majority of the year. It’s possible Dolan was the hold up, but Isola speculating some shit after the fact isn’t a very convincing source.

  30. Come on, this isn’t (entirely) about Dolan. If this was about Dolan we would have known much earlier.
    In a way, it could really just be that, all things equal, Kerr knew that by accepting the GSW offer he would:

    1) get more guaranteed money
    2) stay much closer to home
    3) get more talented players
    4) have somehow less pressure in the short and long run (Jackson was not fired because he lost to the Clippers, mind you, so it’s not like there’s gonna be pressure about getting more than 51 wins and a first round exit)
    5) have one of the most devastating weapon in basketball not named Durant or James at arms’ reach, locked for another 3yrs at 11.5mln/avg (yes. think about that).

    Even I, six time zones removed from NY, learned very quickly not to trust anything that comes from Isola. So why should we trust him this time?

    Then again: Kerr has never coached! What is all of this fuss? When will we, Knicks fans, learn not to overreact? (I have to say that this forum has had a very, very encouraging moderate response to the news)

    I vote for Pablo as player coach. do they have triangles in Argentina?

    I would love this. I’m dead serious. But Jax won’t hire anyone outside of his magic circle. Another fascinating option would be David Blatt. Or Ettore Messina. But neither of them are in the aforementioned circle, so nothing of the sort. That’s why I’m somehow rooting for Fisher, he’s smart as hell. Excuse me now, I’m going to throw up in my own mouth. I never thought I would be rooting for Fisher in my lifetime (you should now I’m a Spurs fan too).

  31. If not, one thing to watch for is that Phil had said in the past that he likes “system basketball” – but he also said the system doesn’t HAVE to be the Triangle.

    Frank I was going to say the same thing. I don’t think he would be opposed to bringing in someone who didn’t want to run the triangle if he felt that coach had a vision and a strong foundation in place.

    What he’ll never do, is hire someone like Mark Jackson or Mike Woodson, who just call plays (or, in Woodson’s case, stand by idly while the clock is winding down and don’t call a play).

    Which reminds me, whoever we hire will not be Mike Woodson. So it’s still all good.

  32. Isola is desperate to continue the one narrative that makes him relevant.

    What would concern me is if anyone else is reporting that Kerr chose GS because Dolan wouldn’t pay up. Like THCJ said, a coach’s salary should not matter. If PJ wanted Kerr and Dolan wouldn’t pony up, that’s a problem.

    But it seems like only Isola is saying that happened. Has anyone heard it from anywhere else?

  33. NBA player Kevin Durant in an interview with Grantland said that Kevin Ollie (who played for Oklahoma City Thunder in 2009-2010) “taught him the ropes”, and “changed the culture of Oklahoma City”. He also said, “Kevin Ollie, he was a game changer for us. I think he changed the whole culture in Oklahoma City. Just his mind set, professionalism, every single day. And we all watched that, and we all wanted to be like that. It rubbed off on Russell Westbrook, myself, Jeff Green, James Harden. And then everybody who comes through now, it’s the standard that you’ve got to live up to as a Thunder player. And it all started with Kevin Ollie.”

    Ollie had previously played a similar role with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jim Paxson, Cavaliers GM at the time, recalled his motivation for signing Ollie: “We thought he could come in and be a bridge for us at the point guard position,” Paxson recalled, “and also be a good influence on our younger players, the primary one being LeBron James.” Paxson cited Ollie’s “professionalism and approach to the game” as qualities the team valued.

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