Warriors head coach Steve Kerr out indefinitely with chronic pain

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr out indefinitely with chronic pain

PORTLAND -- Still suffering with chronic pain after multiple back surgeries nearly two years ago, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will step away from his duties for an indefinite period.

Kerr made the announcement Sunday afternoon, one day after he was unable to attend Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Trail Blazers at Moda Center. He conceded the possibility he could miss the rest of the postseason.

“This past week for whatever reason, things got worse,” Kerr said from the team hotel. “My symptoms got worse. And I was not able to coach. The last few days have been difficult.

“With things getting worse, I just made the decision I couldn’t coach. As of now, I’m consulting with my doctors. I’m hoping for some improvement. If I can get some improvement, I’ll get back on the sidelines. But I’m not going to do that unless I know I can help the team.”

Assistant coach Mike Brown, a three-time NBA head coach who guided the Warriors to a 119-113 comeback win in Game 3, will serve as acting head coach during Kerr’s absence and will be on the sideline for Game 4 Monday night.

No matter what happens, Kerr said, he plans to assist in game preparation and remain involved with players and staff for the duration of the postseason.

“At this point in the season, we all have a feel for our team,” Kerr said. “Early in the season, it probably wouldn’t have been that way. It’s great that we’ve had the year together. It’s great that Mike has coached in this league 10 years and has coached in The Finals. He knows what he’s doing. The team is in great hands regardless.”

While spending Game 3 at the team hotel Saturday watching the game with his son, Nick, Kerr pointed out that some of the substitutions he thought should be made were, in fact, made seconds after crossing his mind.

Kerr said he did feel somewhat better Sunday than he did on Friday and Saturday.

Kerr has been coping with severe side effects since the summer of 2015. Though he has said his back was improved by the surgeries, a spinal leak has resulted in frequent headaches and neck pain.

Two days into training camp in September, barely a month after his second surgery in seven weeks, he took an indefinite leave of absence, returning Jan. 22, 2016 and coaching the final 39 regular-season games as well as the postseason.

But after laboring through 2016 training camp and the regular season -- often wearing a pain patch on the back of his neck -- the chronic anguish never went away, being by turns uncomfortable and excruciating. Kerr made it through only the first two games of the postseason.

He clearly was in discomfort during Game 2 Wednesday night at Oracle Arena and felt no better after an off-day Thursday. During his post-practice news conference Friday, before the team flight from Oakland to Portland, Kerr constantly shifted his body and grabbed his head.

Kerr was unable join the team for shootaround Saturday morning, and four hours later the Warriors announced Kerr would not attend Game 3.

“This is not going to be a case where I’m coaching one night and not coaching the next,” Kerr said. “I’m not going to do that to our team, to our staff.

“We’re hoping that over the next week or two, whatever it is, I can sort of make a definitive realization or deduction, or just feel it, that I’m going to do this or not.”

Kerr has tried various pain-killing drugs, as well as medicinal marijuana, in hopes of alleviating his chronic pain. Nothing so far has provided consistent relief, and some medications that have helped were offset by nausea and other side effects.

Kerr is in the third year of a five-year contract signed in May 2014. His 207-39 regular-season record is the best in NBA history by any coach over a three-year span.

Steve Kerr 'playing with house money' in World Series bet with Steph Curry


Steve Kerr 'playing with house money' in World Series bet with Steph Curry

Steve Kerr is a big Dodgers fan.

Steph Curry is a big Red Sox fan.

The Red Sox will host the Dodgers on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the World Series, and Warriors coach and star player do have a bet on the outcome, as The Athletic's Anthony Slater chronicled:

Work logistics won’t allow them to attend in person. But both will be locked in from afar, already trading some trash talk, agreeing on a wager — “Can’t reveal the stakes,” Kerr said

Kerr spoke with Damon Bruce on 95.7 The Game on Tuesday and once again declined to share specifics of the agreement between he and Curry.

[RELATEDSteph Curry breaks his own NBA 3-point shooting record vs. Suns]

Golden State's head coach did, however, reveal that he is "playing with some house money" because he won a bet with Kevon Looney based on the result of the NLCS.

Looney grew up in Milwaukee, and the Dodgers beat the Brewers in seven games to advance to the Fall Classic.

Note to all San Francisco Giants fans out there -- don't be mad at Kerr for his allegiance to the Dodgers. The guy grew up in Southern California and loves baseball. End of story.

Besides, as he told Bruce -- the Warriors have won three NBA championships over the last four years, so he's doing something right ...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Two positives, two negatives from Warriors' 123-103 thrashing of Suns

Two positives, two negatives from Warriors' 123-103 thrashing of Suns

OAKLAND -- The Warriors looked like the champions they are in a 20-point thrashing of the Phoenix Suns on Monday. Nothing is better for a team’s peace of mind than a blowout at home.

Here are two positives and two negatives culled from the easiest win of this season:


Jones passes another test

The biggest question entering the season for the Warriors was related to Damian Jones. Is a 23-year-old center that had never started an NBA game ready for a full-time role with the league’s elite team?

Four games in, and against impressive competition, Jones generally has been good. Not exceptional, but nothing less than satisfactory.

The 7-footer finished with 13 points (5-of-5 from the field, 3-of-5 from the line), four rebounds and one block.

Going against Suns big man Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Jones made an early statement with 9 points (4-of-4 from the field), four rebounds and a block in the first six minutes.

“This is why we have to have Damian,” coach Steve Kerr said. “If you think of the past week: Steven Adams, (Rudy) Gobert, (Nikola) Jokic and now Ayton. You have to have that kind of size to deal with the position.

“Now there will be smaller matchups as well. But he passed this week’s tests with flying colors.”

Second-quarter brilliance

The Warriors took control early, going up nine (32-23) after one quarter. It was in the second quarter, though, that they really took off.

Klay Thompson scored 11 points and Stephen Curry 10 as the Warriors demolished any and all semblance of Suns defense, shooting 73.7 percent and going 4-of-5 on shots beyond the arc.

What was the key? The Warriors defended well enough to disrupt Phoenix’s offense, getting three steals and blocking a pair of shots to help post a 9-0 advantage in fast-break points for the quarter.

The Warriors won the quarter, 38-24. Moreover, they posted their only double-digit advantage in 16 quarters this season. Not bad for a team on the second night of a back-to-back set.


Thompson’s search continues

Klay Thompson is one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history, coming off a season in which he posted career-high accuracy. He’s one of three players to have made more than 250 triples in multiple seasons.

He made one Monday night. He missed five.

In four games this season, Thompson is 3-of-22 beyond the arc.

Most of his misses have been short. Some have been rushed. But an inordinate amount of his shots from deep have been on relatively clean looks.

Thompson is the only person not named Stephen Curry to make at least 200 3-pointers in six consecutive seasons. He’s a certified specialist. He’s going to keep shooting them, as he should, because they’re going to start dropping. Probably soon.

Backing away from the glass

Rebounding has not been a source of strength in recent seasons, but the Warriors through the first three games did a decent job. They opened the game as if they were determined to make a point on the glass.

They did. Outrebounding the Suns 17-6 in the first quarter, the Warriors piled up 15 fast-break points in the first 12 minutes.

And then, they simply started backing away. The Warriors were outrebounded 8-6 in the second quarter, 14-5 in the third and 17-12 in the fourth. They went from plus-11 in the first quarter to minus-5 for the game.

The most aggressive rebounder was Alfonzo McKinnie, who attacks everything visible to the naked eye. He grabbed a team-high seven in 18 minutes.

No one else had more than five. Part of the reason for the diminishing hunger is, of course, that the Warriors never seemed to be threatened. Cruising is not, however, a habit they want to develop.

How did they get away with it? By forcing 21 Phoenix turnovers (off which they scored 29 points), outshooting the Suns 51.1 percent to 45.3 percent and outscoring them 42-27 from beyond the arc.