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OAKLAND – Steve Kerr is not ready to resume full-time coaching duties, despite his intense desire to return to the seat he occupied last season in leading the Warriors to the NBA Championship.
But as he takes small steps toward recovery, Kerr is making his presence felt. He attended practices Monday and Tuesday and also was at the morning shootaround prior to the game Wednesday night against the Suns at Oracle Arena.
“He’s still our leader,” guard Shaun Livingston said Wednesday. “We understand he’s our leader. We’re a championship team, and he took us there. That alone . . . we know he’s kind of waiting in the wings. It’s the regular season. We know we’re playing for bigger goals. We all understand we’re going to need him to get back to where we want to go.”
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The Warriors, coaches and players, clearly are energized Kerr’s increasing involvement.
“It looks like he’s feeling better,” Livingston said. “Every day is probably a new day for him. I kind of know that process. Going through rehab, you have good and bad days. He’s more vocal and has more energy. You can tell he’s himself a little bit more when he’s cracking jokes and cracking on himself.”
Kerr still has severe symptoms related to two back surgeries he underwent over the summer. Headaches continue to nag him and it’s difficult to get restful sleep.
What little energy he has is being given to the team, often with a timely comment.
“One thing about Steve, he always knows what to say,” forward Draymond Green said. “It’s a gift. He always knows what to say and when to say it. It’s pretty neat. It’s unique. We’re all looking forward to him getting back.”
Said Livingston: “His No. 1 attribute is his communication. The way he communicates. He gets his point across. And how he’s able to do it is just honest. There’s some humor in there, so it’s not too dry. But at the same time, it resonates with us.”
Kerr has little to say during games, with interim coach Luke Walton taking charge and leading the team to a 24-1 record. But Kerr’s voice is coming through more and more in film sessions and in practices.
“Luke’s done a phenomenal job,” Green said. “The NBA won’t acknowledge it, but I will. He’s got the best record in the history of the game. He’s done great.
“But it’s a team effort. To be at full strength, we need Steve here.”