Warriors coach Steve Kerr embracing new normal, excited about future

Warriors coach Steve Kerr embracing new normal, excited about future

HOUSTON -- Just off a baseline inside Guy V. Lewis Development Facility at the University of Houston, Warriors coach Steve Kerr found himself in a familiar place Thursday afternoon. 

For four of the last five postseasons, Kerr and the rest of the Warriors used the adjoining facilities to train while in town to defend their championship ambitions. On this trip, Kerr -- hours removed from his latest blowout loss to the Rockets -- has a different mission than he's used to: building a championship mindset instead of maintaining one.   

"It's a different vibe," Kerr admitted. "Normally a day like this in the last couple of years was a game day and then back-to-back games, probably wouldn't even practice, or if we did it would be very, very light." 

With Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson injured for an extended time, Kerr currently oversees a battered roster of just 10 players, two of which are on two-way contracts, and six of which are under the age of 23. All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell is expected to return Friday after a three-game absence. 

Under the current structure, Kerr's roster has been defined by youthful inconsistency. On Saturday, Golden State held the Charlotte Hornets -- the league's best 3-point shooting team -- to just 17 percent from beyond the arc, and took a brief lead with just over a minute left in regulation. Two nights later, the Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers, limiting guard CJ McCollum to just 37 percent from the field. Then, on Wednesday, they were outscored 87-66 over the final 27 minutes against the Rockets, much to Kerr's chagrin. 

Each loss came without Golden State's All-Star core. Thompson -- who tore his ACL in June -- isn't expected to return this season, while Curry's broken left hand will be re-evaluated in February. Meanwhile, Green didn't make the current three-game road trip as he tended to a torn ligament in his left index finger. 

The current climate is new territory for Kerr. Over his first five seasons in Golden State, Kerr won 78 percent of his games while overseeing the best run in NBA history and winning three titles. During his playing career, he won three championships with the Chicago Bulls (and another two with the Spurs). Once, while doing voiceover work for NBA 2K15, Kerr was shocked at the notion that he had the option to play as himself on the 1996 Bulls -- a team that won a league-record 72 games -- against himself as a coach on the 2015 Warriors -- a team that won the championship and broke the Bulls' record the following year. Now, sporting a 2-6 record through eight games, Kerr is reconciling the new normal. 

"I can't stand losing," Kerr admitted. "I'm also a realist and I understand the job at hand. Organizationally, we're trying to bring this young group ahead, forward, so that we can really build the depth of our roster and we know eventually Steph and Klay and Draymond are gonna be back."

Until that point comes, the coach who made a habit of breaking clipping boards when he was frustrated with a team destined for a championship is embracing a new approach with his younger squad.  

"Stay on them," Kerr said. "But stay positive. I mean the hardest thing is you're trying to get better. You're trying to improve every day, but you're losing some games. We're 2-6. It's not easy." 

As Kerr prioritizes development over wins, his young group is showing promise despite the circumstances. Over the last three games, rookie Eric Paschall is averaging 26.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 51 percent from the field. In Wednesday's loss to the Rockets, Warriors big man Omari Spellman scored 13 points -- making all six of his shot attempts -- and added seven rebounds in 18 minutes, strengthening Kerr's optimism about the future.

[RELATED: Zaza makes lofty comparison for Warriors rookie Paschall]

"We're gonna get better," Kerr promised. "And we'll continue to add to our team the next couple of years, through the draft, through free agency. So, let's get these young guys up to speed and if a few of them can really develop and become rotational players, then we put our organization in a really good spot. So, that's the job."

Gareth Bale uses Steph Curry golf story to defend his playing of sport

Gareth Bale uses Steph Curry golf story to defend his playing of sport

European soccer fans take the sport very seriously. Very seriously.

So seriously that they have a problem with Real Madrid midfielder Gareth Bale's desire to play golf on his down time. Apparently, this is a big point of controversy across the pond.

In an interview with Erik Anders Lang, Bale was asked about the complicated relationship he has with golf, and citied Warriors star Steph Curry's love for the game as a reason why it should be OK for him to play whenever he wants.

"Well, you wouldn't think it would be, but yeah, a lot of people have problems with me playing golf," Bale said recently. "I don't know what their reason is because I've spoken to doctors and this, that and the other and everybody's fine with it. But, especially the media have this perception that it's not good for me, you should be resting, it can cause injuries. I've looked in America, for example, I know Steph Curry plays maybe on the morning of his game."

What is Bale referring to?

On Dec. 4, 2019, former Warriors forward Andre Iguodala appeared on Anders Lang's podcast and revealed that Curry played 18 holes of golf in Phoenix before scoring 42 points against the Suns later that day. Oh, and the Warriors had played in Oakland the previous night, where they beat the Minnesota Timberwolves.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Curry played nearly 30 minutes against the Timberwolves, played a round of golf the next morning, and then played 35 minutes against the Suns. All in less than a 30-hour span.

"Like, we got a game tomorrow and it's important for him to play well," Iguodala told Anders Lang. "If I don't play well, it's whatever they ain't going to blame me. But he played great that day. He shot in the 70s like he always does ... I shot OK. I shot in the 80s so I was happy around that time. So I might have broke 90 that day and I was happy. I didn't play well that night because I was like, 'Whatever.'

"But he had like 40 that night. He had 40 that night. He killed them. And I was joking with him, 'If anyone on our team knew what we did today ...' Because nobody knew. Steve [Kerr] knew though. Steve was like, 'You guys better play good today.' Then he was like, 'Steph you should play golf every day."

In the win over the Timberwolves, Curry didn't play particularly well, finishing with 19 points on 7 of 18 shooting. So maybe he needed to hit the links to clear his head.

It clearly worked because he went 15 of 25 in the win over the Suns.

Ironically, Curry didn't play three days later when the Warriors hosted the New Orleans Pelicans.

[RELATED: Steph wants in on next "The Match"]

I'm not one to tell a professional athlete in peak physical condition what they can or cannot do, but Curry's golf outing came a few days before the start of the 2017 NBA playoffs. If he had pulled a muscle and missed postseason games, Kerr might have had a different reaction.

But Curry and Bale should be able to play a little golf on their down time. Fans everywhere need to relax and let these athletes live their life.

Was Don Nelson convinced not to sign Steve Kerr to Warriors in 1993?

Was Don Nelson convinced not to sign Steve Kerr to Warriors in 1993?

Warriors coach Steve Kerr nearly played for Golden State in the 1993-94 season?

Avery Johnson was a guest on KNBR 680 last Thursday and told the following story:

"Pop (Gregg Popovich) was on the plane with Nellie (Don Nelson) during the preseason and Tim Hardaway got injured and blew out his knee. Pop called me and said, 'Look, if I can convince Don Nelson on this flight to sign you instead of Steve Kerr, you're gonna have a job.' I was out of a job.

"And fortunately, I got a call at six o'clock in the morning and Pop -- who was an assistant on that staff -- said, 'Pack your bags, you're coming to Golden State.'"

Hardaway -- who averaged 21.5 points and 10.6 assists in 1992-93 -- sustained a season-ending knee injury during practice on Oct. 18, 1993, and Johnson (who ended up starting 70 games that year) signed with the Warriors a week later.

Kerr, meanwhile, signed a contract with the Chicago Bulls on Sept. 29, according to BasketballReference.com. So unless the Warriors were going to trade for Kerr, something isn't adding up here. Or perhaps Nelson and Popovich didn't know Kerr already was on a team?

When KNBR host Tom Tolbert relayed Johnson's story to Kerr last Friday, the eight-time NBA champion was as surprised as anybody to learn Nelson wanted to sign him.

"I didn't know that," Kerr said. "I've never heard the Avery story."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

And then the following exchange took place:

Tolbert: "Think about that. You go there and Avery doesn't go there ... it's so funny how things work out. You make a choice, or maybe there's a choice that's made for you that you don't even know about that affects what happens to you and who you become and how things work out.

"And I was thinking, 'Who knows how it would have worked out. Maybe the Warriors win championships, maybe Steve never plays for the Bulls. Who knows how things work out. But ...'

Kerr: "Wait, wait, wait. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Did you just say if I had gone to the Warriors as a player -- maybe they would have won championships?"

Tolbert: "I did. Maybe things work out differently. They had a pretty good team there. Look, I'm not saying you would have been the guy to win the championship. Let's not get crazy here."

Kerr: "OK (laughter). Let's not get stupid (laughter)."

Tolbert: "But remember -- they had a really, really good team back then. Who knows. Maybe you go there, maybe you take (Chris) Webber out one night -- Nellie doesn't yell at him -- maybe Webber stays there."

The Warriors were really good, as they won 50 games and reached the 1994 playoffs as the No. 6 seed.

Latrell Sprewell -- in just his second season in the league -- was named All-NBA First-Team and All-Defensive Second-Team.

[RELATED: How Stockton ruined Kerr's chances of going to Gonzaga]

Chris Webber averaged 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.2 steals and was named NBA Rookie of the Year. But he and Nelson couldn't co-exist, and Webber was traded to the Washington Bullets in November 1994.

The Warriors didn't reach the postseason again until 2007.

Kerr, on the other hand, won three titles with the Bulls (1996, 1997, 1998) and two more with the San Antonio Spurs (1999, 2003).

Crazy stuff.

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