Warriors

Health issues put Kerr extension on back burner: 'I want to keep coaching, but...'

Health issues put Kerr extension on back burner: 'I want to keep coaching, but...'

OAKLAND -- Despite two NBA titles and the best three-season record of any coach in league history, Warriors coach Steve Kerr enters Year 4 of a five-year deal worth $25 million without a contract extension.

Though the topic has been raised, it is not currently a priority for general manager Bob Myers or Kerr, mostly because the coach is focusing on personal health issues.

“I’m just not ready to look that far ahead,” Kerr said Sunday.

“It’s not top of mind because I just can’t envision him not being our coach,” Myers said on the Warriors Insider Podcast this week. “If something happened health related, that’s different. But if it’s his option or our option to work something out, I’m really confident that it won’t be an issue -- for him or for us.”

Because he continues to experience lingering symptoms, including headaches and dizziness, related to multiple back surgeries two years ago, Kerr said his first personal objective is finding a path to a pain-free life.

Kerr missed 43 games at the beginning of the 2015-16 season and 11 more during the 2017 postseason. His health is trending upward, he says, but it’s a slow progression and a time-consuming process.

If Kerr, who is 207-39 through three seasons, is willing to wait, so are the Warriors.

“There’s no secret of our admiration for Steve, not only ours in the organization, whether it’s ownership or myself and the front office, but that trickles up from our players,” said Myers, who 13 months ago received an extension believed to last through 2019-20. “He’s universally kind of beloved in the organization for his ability to coach, for his ability to lead, his humanity -- all the skills.”

Kerr, 51, said he is determined to avoid putting himself or the team in a situation where he signs a new deal and then discovers shortly afterward that he is unable to physically meet the demands of the job.

That doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought about being with the Warriors -- and only the Warriors -- beyond the contract that ends in 2019, the year the team moves into the new Chase Center in San Francisco.

“I know I enjoy coaching and that I want to keep coaching,” said Kerr, voted Coach of the Year in 2015-16. “But it’s impossible to know if I’ll be in the position to do so.”

Gameday: Two Warriors All-Stars out for Friday's game vs Bulls

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USATSI

Gameday: Two Warriors All-Stars out for Friday's game vs Bulls

The Warriors will be without their starting forwards Friday night when they return to Oracle Arena not only to face the struggling Chicago Bulls but also in search of good habits.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30, with tipoff scheduled for 7:35.

Kevin Durant is out with a sprained ankle and Draymond Green will be resting.

The Warriors (13-5) are coming off a 2-2 road trip during which they blew a 17-point third-quarter lead in one of the losses and had to overcome a 24-point third-quarter deficit to earn one of the victories.

The rebuilding Bulls (3-13) are concluding a four-game swing through the Western Conference, having lost the first three games by an average of 15.7 points.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 15.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Omri Casspi & Co. vs. Lauri Markkanen: Markkanen has been one of the few bright spots for the Bulls this season. The 7-foot rookie from Arizona shares the team lead in scoring at 14.6 points per game, while leading in rebounds at 8.3 per game. The only Chicago rookies to score more points in their first 16 games are Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose and Elton Brand. With Green and Durant out, the task of defending Markkanen falls to Casspi, who will start at one forward, with rookie Jordan Bell also taking a few turns.

INJURY LIST

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L ankle sprain) and F Draymond Green (rest) are listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Bulls: G Zach LaVine (L ACL rehab), F Nikola Mirotic (facial fractures), G David Nwaba (R ankle sprain) and G Cameron Payne (R foot surgery) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Bulls: 2-8.

GAME OFFICIALS

Bennie Adams (lead), Mark Ayotte and JT Orr.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams split the two-game series last season, each winning on its home court. The Warriors have won five of the last eight overall and 14 of the last 18 in Oakland.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE INTENSITY METER: The Warriors believe, justifiably, that their biggest worry is about themselves. When they’re properly focused, they are the best team in the NBA. When they are not, they are susceptible to most any quality team. Insofar as Chicago doesn’t appear pose an explicit challenge, the Warriors must not only manufacture intensity but also maintain it.

KEEP ‘EM OFF THE LINE: The Bulls are dead last in the NBA in offensive rating (94.4), field-goal percentage (41.0), field goals made per game (35.7). The one thing they do well is shoot free throws, which they shoot at a league-leading 92.9 percent. The Warriors can be prone to fouls (only eight teams commit more), so they’ll have to play it smart against this opponent.

THE BENCH BUNCH: With Durant and Green out, along with this being the second game of a four-games-in-six-nights stretch, the Warriors will have to lean on their bench, which has been quite good. Its 54-percent shooting leads the league, as is its 4.2 blocks per game. The net rating 10.2 is second in the NBA.

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

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AP

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season.