Warriors

Steve Kerr reveals why Warriors trading Andre Iguodala devastated him

Steve Kerr reveals why Warriors trading Andre Iguodala devastated him

Steve Kerr was not surprised when Kevin Durant, upon gaining free agency on June 30, left the Warriors. The coach, like everybody on the payroll, had spent nine months bracing for that.

He wasn’t prepared for what happened a few hours later. The team reached an agreement to trade forward/guard Andre Iguodala to Memphis.

“That was a complete gut punch,” Kerr said Tuesday on The Warriors Insider Podcast.

“I’m not going to lie. That was probably the most ... not even probably -- that was the most painful loss, in terms of a personnel move, that I’ve felt as a coach in my five years.”

Kerr’s trust in Iguodala was deep enough that, in some whispered circles, he was considered the coach’s “pet.” Kerr and Iguodala, University of Arizona products roughly 20 years apart, seemed to be members of their own secret society. There was a telepathy.

“Guys in this profession come and go pretty quickly. It’s a very fluid business,” Kerr said. “But for what Andre has meant to not only our team but to me personally, as a coach, for accepting his role, for mentoring younger players, for monitoring the bench and keeping everything going -- the respect that the stars had for him combined with his mentoring of the younger players -- Andre was the unsung hero of all of this.

"For him to move on was just devastating for me.”

Iguodala, 35, spent six years with the Warriors, going to the playoffs every season, reaching The Finals in the last five seasons, three of which ended in championships.

A first-round pick by the 76ers in 2004, Iguodala was an instant starter in Philadelphia and remained a starter when he was traded to the Nuggets in 2012. He came to the Warriors via a sign-and-trade deal in July 2013 and was installed in the starting lineup by coach Mark Jackson.

Kerr replaced Jackson the following season and persuaded Iguodala to become the team’s Sixth Man, a role he filled the entire regular season and through the first three rounds of the postseason. With the Warriors losing two of the first three games in The Finals against the Cavaliers, Iguodala was reinserted into the starting lineup for Game 4.

The Warriors evened the series. Iguodala started Games 5 and 6, taking the series, with Iguodala voted Finals MVP.

“Andre really embodied everything that I tried to teach to our players in terms of the culture, the unselfishness, the sacrifice,” Kerr said. “He set the example in Year 1 by agreeing to come off the bench. He’s a guy who has been able to relate to everybody, play any role we’ve asked him to play.”

Iguodala had one season remaining on his contract, and Kerr hoped he would spend it playing at Chase Center. But other factors intervened. First, there was Klay Thompson’s ACL injury in The Finals that will sideline him most of next season. Then, there was Durant’s departure. The Warriors as they had been for three seasons were no more.

This was a perfectly convenient time for general manager Bob Myers and his staff to engineer a rebuild that would provide an infusion of youth, including the key acquisition of combo guard D’Angelo Russell, who represented the Nets in the 2019 All-Star Game.

[RELATED: Kerr calls out how Davis forced his way to the Lakers]

“This is why it’s not smart to be coach and GM at the same time,” Kerr said. “If you have both jobs, it’s been proven to be incredibly difficult. A coach looks at next year. A GM has to look at five years down the road.

“I have the ultimate faith in Bob [Myers] and his staff. If you just look at it on paper, we went from a 35-year-old star player who’s got a year or two left to a 23-year-old talent who has a long career ahead of him. That makes perfect sense. I’m not ever going to argue with that. And I agree in the long term that it’s a good move.

“But having said that, just on a personal level, that one will sting for a long time.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr 'hopeful' Draymond Green will play vs. Jazz

Warriors coach Steve Kerr 'hopeful' Draymond Green will play vs. Jazz

Draymond Green's presence likely wouldn't have made a difference in the ultimate outcome of the Warriors' loss to the Mavericks on Wednesday, but it's hard to imagine them losing by 48 if he had played.

Now, as Golden State heads to Utah for the final game of its road trip, the Dubs have their fingers crossed that Green will be able to play against the Jazz on Friday.

"Hopefully we get Draymond back," coach Steve Kerr said on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" show Thursday evening. "We'll see. I talked to him today and he was feeling better, so I'm hopeful that he can play tomorrow."

Green sat out the loss to Dallas with right heel soreness. Whether or not he is able to face the Jazz, Kerr is of the belief that the Warriors will be far more competitive than they were the last time out.

"But I think the day off today will help, I think the embarrassment of last night will help, and we'll have a shootaround tomorrow and I think we'll be ready to play," he continued. "I know our guys were embarrassed last night. It was the first time all season where I really felt like we sort of lost our spirit and our energy, so I know we'll have that back tomorrow and I'm looking forward to playing."

[RELATED: Outsider Observations: How seven ex-Warriors are playing]

Utah (9-5) currently is tied for fifth in the Western Conference and boasts the league's best scoring defense. Against Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Co., the Warriors can use all the help they can get, but at least if Green plays, the won't have to worry about the spirit and energy part.

Warriors broadcaster Jim Barnett describes racism Bill Russell faced

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AP

Warriors broadcaster Jim Barnett describes racism Bill Russell faced

Warriors color commentator Jim Barnett has seen a lot during his time following the NBA, but perhaps what sticks out most were his experiences with Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell and the racism the Hall of Famer had to endure. 

During an appearance on the "Runnin' Plays" podcast, Barnett -- who was drafted and played one season in Boston -- shared a story about the time Russell was given a key to the city just before a game the Celtics played in a Southern state.

Following the game, the black players on the team were denied entry into a hotel because of the color of their skin. In response, Russell returned the key to the town's mayor. 

The scenario was just one of many for the prominently black Celtics of the 1960s, according to Barnett. 

"They didn't sell out in the Boston Garden," Barnett said on the first episode of "Runnin' Plays". "They sold out in the Boston Garden for the hockey team - the Boston Bruins - every game was sold out. But not the Boston Celtics. It was a racist town."  

The face of the team was Russell, who became a civil rights leader in his own right. In 1961, he staged a boycott of a game in Lexington, Ky. after a city restaurant wouldn't serve his black teammates. In 1966, he became the first black coach in the history of professional sports.

By 1967, he -- along with basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown -- led a summit to support boxer Muhammad Ali after he refused to fight in the Vietnam War.  

However, the climate of the time affected how Russell interacted with fans. 

"I remember one time, this businessman asked for an autograph," Barnett said. "He said, 'if I weren't Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, I'd be just another N-word to him.' 

Barnett added that the NBA capped how many non-whites could be on an active roster. 

"There was a quota," Barnett said. "You couldn't have more than two or three blacks. I know that for a fact." 

[RELATED: Bowman has been Warriors' bright spot, looks like a keeper]

As for his interactions with Russell and his black teammates, Barnett -- a white man -- said he didn't have any quandaries working alongside his teammates. 

"We didn't have any problems," the guys I played with and against, they were there to make a living in the NBA just like I was and we were all the same."