Kerr has to figure out what form his next set of jumper cables will take

kerr-steph-perplexed.jpg
AP

Kerr has to figure out what form his next set of jumper cables will take

The Great Player Empowerment Debate has come and gone, the National Basketball Association stands as before, and Steve Kerr is again slightly irked that a relatively harmless idea to fix that dent in his own team has become everyone else’s cry of disrespectful injustice.

Indeed, rarely has anyone felt so sorry for the Phoenix Suns since they lost that coin flip 48 years ago and ended with Neal Walk instead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

But the underlying oh-crap moment in Kerr’s decision to let his players run practices and timeouts before the 46-point win over the Suns is actually just one more acknowledgement that the regular season can be a tedium-fest, even for the elite.

The Warriors have been less lasered-in this year. They have been less defensively mindful, and they have tried to overadorn passes in search of the adrenalin fix that used to sustain them so easily two and three years ago. It is mid-February, and they have set such a high bar of stimulus, and to be fair such a high self-image, that they find playing to their standard is often an exercise in overexertion.

They’re bored, pure and simple.

The playoffs are still too far away to be real. The excitement of wondering if they will open with Denver or Utah or the Los Angeles Clippers or New Orleans isn’t that exciting yet. Listening to that 45th lecture about focus is becoming the equivalent of listening to sad-trombone.

Kerr knows it. The players know it. They get along fine, and nobody is spoiling for Kerr to be replaced by Tom Thibodeau, but messaging loses some of its power after 366 games and 1,205 days, give or take the odd golf outing.

Indeed, all the messaging around the league is that the regular season as a whole is about combating boredom. Some teams (at least eight this year) indeed regard the regular season as a loss leader in search of that magical draft pick that usually never comes. Teams rest players and hide behind “sore right ring toe” as an explanation to keep the network mall cops at bay. Cleveland was performing a ritual self-immolation until Koby Altman dynamited the roster, an act of electroshock therapy unheard of in midseason. The Los Angeles Lakers are playing for 2019 even though 2018 is only 45 days old, and LaVar Ball is not disruptive enough to get anyone’s notice any more.

Everywhere, the message is the regular season is a month longer than it needs to be, and there is no cure for this mass ennui but time. Kerr played a card to energize his veterans for an evening, and it worked -- although the evidence suggests that they could have beaten the Suns by 46 even without the new time-out structure.

Only mid-March will make this problem go away, because by then title aspirants will start prepping for the time when the games matter a lot, mid-level teams will battle for the remaining 10 playoff spots, and everyone else will be doing mock drafts. They’ll have things to amuse them.

In the meantime, though, Adam Silver rises each day knowing that the solution to all this regular season disrespect (since that is what the Warrior-Suns game actually was) is eliminating February entirely – and no amount of network money can do that.

In the meantime, Steve Kerr has to figure out what form his next set of jumper cables will take – getting kicked out of a game during the National Anthem? Sitting in the stands? Sitting on the other team’s bench? Promoting JaVale McGee to assistant general manager and letting him work the buyout market? Don’t miss our next exciting episode, “The Burden Of Trying To Look Engaged,” or “Brooklyn on March 6.”

Where the Warriors players stand among the great...coaches?

warriors-coaches-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Where the Warriors players stand among the great...coaches?

Once again, Steve Kerr’s official win total is at variance with reality. And once again, the actual coach – or in this case, coaches – are robbed of the official credit by pedants.

Kerr pulled out a time-honored gambit for a good team suffering from pre-All Star ennui and allowed the Golden State Warriors to coach themselves. There was little risk, of course, as the opponents, the Phoenix Suns, were bad, injured, and very casual about defense. It was a perfect feel-good moment for a team of veterans who needed something new to do.

So they did, with the predictable result. Warriors 129, Suns 83 – the fourth most lopsided win of the year by any team, and second-most by the Warriors.

So now Kerr’s record, currently listed as 251-52, a league-record .828 winning percentage (ahead of Milwaukee’s Joe Prunty, who is 8-2 in the wake of Jason Kidd’s firing in Milwaukee), can be debated again by small-minded types.

Like me.

There’s that troublesome 39-4 record amassed by Luke Walton which is still credited to Kerr. There’s also the complete omission of playoff games, in which Kerr is 47-15 . . . except there’s the 11 wins Mike Brown amassed in Kerr’s medical absence last year.

And now there is the new College of Coaches win – an homage of sorts to the Chicago Cubs’ loopy idea in the early ‘60s to eliminate the manager and rotate the job among a small group of old baseball hands. That was, like most things Cub of that era, a hilarious disaster.

In any event, Steve Kerr’s total record, which ought to be 298-67 (.816, still the best ever), is actually 247-63, or .796, making Prunty the greatest coaching mind in the history of the sport.

Except of course for Not Steve Kerr – who with Monday’s win is now 51-4, or .927. Now how does that not merit a mention in Springfield?

Hey, if we’re going to play with numbers, damn it, let’s play with numbers.

Kerr has been a good sport about all this nonsense, never failing to remind folks that people remind him. And Walton could use the boost, because his 49-88 (.358) suddenly becomes 88-92 (.489), and his place on the all-time percentage list from 216th to 108th. Hell, Mike Brown’s 11 playoff wins would take him past 400 (405-252, .616), and that’s a nice round number that deserves marketing, too.

We bring this up only to remind you that the most technologically advanced nation ever, fueled by an obsession with record-keeping and metric-strangling, continues to grapple unsuccessfully with a simple matter like applying a number to Kerr’s work. And now that he is being challenged at the top of the all-time coaches list by the crafty Prunty, this stuff should matter to you numerophiles. A man’s reputation is at stake here...or at least his place among his fellow coaches.

And damn it, Luke Walton, Mike Brown, Joe Prunty and now the Hamptons 5 Plus 7 deserve to know where they stand.

Belinelli, Johnson show players don't ring-chase as much as we think

belienelli-johnson-joe.jpg
AP

Belinelli, Johnson show players don't ring-chase as much as we think

The Golden State Warriors have had a bit of a week so far, and it’s only Monday.

They lost chief marketer Chip Bowers to the Miami Marlins, so he can experience the magic of running the team’s revenue generation efforts – and if you know the Marlins, you know that revenue is a perpetual issue.

But marketing wizards come and go. What is more compelling is the way that the two leading buyout contract candidates they allegedly sought, Joe Johnson and Marco Belinelli, opted to play elsewhere – Johnson in Houston and Belinelli with Philadelphia.

Which leads to one question, and one alone. Are ring-chasers a rarer commodity than we think?

Clearly Johnson and Belinelli, the latter a former Warrior in the Don Nelson’s barbed tongue era, found the idea of a likely ring eminently resistable. Johnson may think the Rockets are primed to beat Golden State in a series, but the buyout from Sacramento and the $776,000 he will get as a 10-year veteran has been adjudged to be worth punching uphill in May, and the same is true of Belinelli, who goes to the last playoff team in the East and, assuming that remains the same, an opening-round series with either Toronto or Boston.

Players in Johnson’s or Belinelli’s positions (and for that matter, Brandan Wright, who also will sign with Houston), though, don’t ring-chase as much as we think they do. They seek out playing time and a chance to matter, either for a future contract or just because the team they agreed to play for showed the most desire to have them.

In other words, even a team with as presumably clear a road to Paradeville as Golden State doesn’t have everything for everybody. They could still chase other buyout class members, like Tony Allen as a perhaps, but let’s consider the words of Houston general brainbox Daryl Morey before we realize that the Warriors either don’t need the market or don’t need it enough.

“For teams who are already loaded, it's very hard to improve the rotations,” Morey said. “Most teams were in future mode. Those are the deals that happened.”

Besides, you secretly believe in Omri Casspi and Nick Young even now, and you always will.