LOS ANGELES – Steve Kerr doesn’t often publicly discuss personnel matters faced by the Warriors. Those questions, he will say, are for general manager Bob Myers.
The coach made an exception on Friday. He expressed his desire that the team re-signs center/forward Kevon Looney to a long-term contract when he becomes a free agent in July.
“I was terrified all last year, after we denied the option, that we were going to lose him,” Kerr said. “He was great last year. But it was a bad free agent market for the players last summer. People just didn’t have money. So, we got lucky in terms of being able to keep him. And he’s turned into such a good player for us.
“I’m really, really hoping that we can keep him long term and that we can give him the contract he deserves and he can make some good money and we can enjoy having him on our team for many years.”
This does not imply that Kerr has no desire to see Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson remain Warriors beyond this season. Rather, it is more a matter of not wanting to lose Looney, who has become a valuable member of the rotation and whose cost will be a fraction of what Durant and Thompson will command on the open market.
Looney, 23, is a coach’s dream insofar as he rarely makes mistakes and is not prone to some of the mental errors that can plague young players. He has some physical limitations – he’s an average athlete – but he compensates with sound judgment and hoops intellect.
After a solid regular season, particularly on defense, Looney has been terrific through three postseason games. In 53 minutes off the bench, he has scored 35 points on while shooting an absurd 82.1 percent (14-of-17), adding 11 rebounds, two blocks and two steals, with one turnover.
“He’s gotten better and better,” Kerr said of Looney’s offense. “You can see the confidence growing every game . . . there’s a lot of dunks and a lot of put-backs, but also making that midrange shot. This is the best he has played in his career.”
Looney’s re-signed with the Warriors last summer at $1.57 million for one season. The Warriors will have full Bird rights this time around and, if so inclined, likely would be looking at deal that would pay somewhere in the range of $5-6 million annually.