Exclusive: Steve Kerr confirms he signed multi-year contract extension with Warriors

Exclusive: Steve Kerr confirms he signed multi-year contract extension with Warriors

As a former reporter, in a manner of speaking, Steve Kerr is familiar with the phrase “Friday afternoon news dump.” It’s newsroom talk for stories released or leaked with the weekend approaching to minimize coverage.

He was hoping that would be the case with his contract extension, the theory being that such news would be buried beneath the avalanche of speculation and debate regarding NBA free agency.

It didn’t quite turn out that way because, well, Warriors news doesn’t bury well.

“My goal with this thing is for there not to be any news on details and then free agency begins tonight and it gets lost in the shuffle and nobody cares,” Kerr said Saturday, by phone, while driving to his San Diego-area home with his wife, Margot.

“I signed a multi-year extension,” he added. “And that’s it.”

Kerr declined to divulge further details, including the specific length of the extension.

Though the Warriors had yet to announce news of the extension, Kerr is expected to coach at least the first two seasons at Chase Center, the new arena in San Francisco, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.

As for his annual salary, which sources on Friday put at around $10 million -- a 100-percent increase over his original five-year, $25 million contract -- Kerr implied it was less than that.

For the record, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, on the job since 1997, is the highest-paid coach in the NBA, is entering the final season of a five-year deal worth a reported $55 million. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers signed a similar contract in May. 

In any case, Kerr’s salary will be commensurate to the success of the Warriors. They have reached the NBA Finals in all four seasons with him on the bench, coming away with three championships.

With one season remaining on a five-year contract, Kerr, 52, feels the timing is right. His health has improved to the degree that he’s comfortable making a commitment beyond the 2018-19 season.

There will be no news conference, as often is the case with players, related to Kerr’s extension. It’s evident the former high school sports writer and TV analyst wishes to avoid speculation in hopes of moving past his contract status and into the summer.

And into free agency, which, eventually, will bury the news of his extension.

Jordan Bell-Steve Kerr squabble a salty finish in Warriors blowout win

Jordan Bell-Steve Kerr squabble a salty finish in Warriors blowout win

LOS ANGELES – In the wake of the Warriors methodically destroying the Los Angles Lakers on Monday night, it was tough to tell who in the visitor’s locker room at Staples Center was hotter.

Klay Thompson was incredibly hot, scoring 44 points, shooting 17-of-20 from the field, 10-of-11 from beyond the arc.

Not for behind Thompson on the heat scale, though, were coach Steve Kerr and third-string center Jordan Bell.

During a timeout with 5:14 remaining, Kerr and Bell engaged in the kind of squabble rarely seen between a head coach and a player on the far end of the bench.

Both were visibly upset, with Kerr finally walking away. Veterans Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry both went over to Bell, trying to calm the Long Beach native, who was playing in front of family and friends.

Bell was on the court for the final 7:09 of a 130-111 victory. The University of Oregon product, in his second season, jacked up five of the team’s 15 shots in that span, which may or may not have been the cause of the dispute.

Bell bolted from the locker room afterward, declining to answer questions.

Kerr, visibly upset, addressed the matter but kept his comment brief and vague.

“It was a total misinterpretation of something I said,” he said, “and we cleared it up.”

Kerr surely would like to think this is the end of it, as would Bell. And perhaps it is. But there have been questions about Bell’s commitment and habits dating back to at least the middle of his rookie season.

Durant made a point last April, during a late-night flight from Indianapolis to Oakland, to sit with Bell and have a veteran-to-rookie talk. He provided Bell with pointers on professionalism and work habits. Bell listened well enough that he worked his way back into the rotation, regaining the trust of his teammates, in the postseason.

Bell has potential, because he flashed it early in his rookie season. That success, however, may have been the worst possible thing for his development. There have been good moments here and there, but he has never consistently recaptured the best of himself.

This season, he has regressed enough to fall out of the rotation.

Yet there was Durant, and then Curry coming over to talk with Bell after the clearly heated exchange with Kerr.

Durant’s message – “Stay focused on the game” – is one he has previously delivered to Bell.

“We’re all gonna go through times throughout the NBA when we want to speak our minds and vent, and we might be frustrated over some things,” Durant continued. “Coach has been so open in letting guys get that out but also challenging guys as well. It’s a healthy dialogue, and it’s just a healthy relationship between us and Coach. He lets us know what he sees out there and if you have something to say to him back, he’s not going to be afraid to go back at you.

“I think Jordan understands that, at this point, we just want to continue to keep getting better. Coach will always – especially the younger guys in the league – definitely be on them a little bit more because he expects a lot out of them. He sees the potential in him. On Jordan’s side, we just want him to keep playing. That stuff happens, so we’ll move on.”

Curry’s basically echoed those sentiments.

“Just play basketball,” he said was the point his message to Bell. “He has a job to do out there, and not to get distracted. Finish the game strong because that’s what his job is, to be ready whenever he’s out there and play hard. He handled it well and ... just moved on from whatever happened.”

The Warriors are evaluating Bell to determine if they want to offer the 2017 second-round draft pick a $1.8 million qualifying offer for next season. He’s not exactly winning his case.

There is time to make up ground, as happened last season. But given the issues that have surfaced thus far, there is legitimate reason to wonder if the Warriors are sold on Bell having a career with them.

Klay Thompson historically efficient in Warriors' blowout vs. Lakers

Klay Thompson historically efficient in Warriors' blowout vs. Lakers

Klay Thompson made each of his first 10 3-pointers in Monday's one-sided win over the Los Angeles Lakers. He also broke a record in the process. 

His 10-for-10 start from beyond the arc tied for the hottest start from the outside by any player in NBA history, 

"I've never hit 10 [3-pointers] in a row in a game," Thompson told reporters in Los Angeles. "That was hard. That's hard to do. I thought I had 11 for a second, but that's basketball."

Thompson missed his 11th (and final) 3-point attempt, but was historically efficient against his father Mychal's old team. He finished the night with 44 points on 17-of-20 shooting from the field, and ESPN Stats and Info determined that Thompson's effective field goal percentage on Monday was the highest of any player who took at least 15 shots in a game. 

In all, Thompson shot 85 percent from the field and about 91 percent from beyond the arc. Thompson had never made more than 85 percent of his shots in a game where he attempted at least two, and had never made more than 90 percent of his 3-pointers in a game where he attempted more than five. 

Before Monday, no player had shot at both of those percentages in a game where they made multiple three-pointers. 

Thompson was asked whether the opponent -- the Lakers crushed the Warriors on Christmas -- played into his performance, and he admitted it played "a little bit" of a role. Thompson also pointed to the fact he was playing in front of his family in his hometown.

Other than that, though, Thompson said there wasn't exactly one factor he could point to and describe why he was "on one."

"It just happened to be one of those nights," Thompson said. "I think that's the best percentage I ever shot, [but] it just happened to be one of those nights, man. I can't explain."