What Kerr's vision of Spurs model could mean for Warriors


SAN FRANCISCO -- Steve Kerr, as he always is, was aked about Gregg Popovich and the Spurs' model of sustained success when San Antonio visited the Warriors at Chase Center back on March 20. Kerr played four seasons for Popovich, won two titles and they have maintained a strong friendship ever since. The Warriors also haven't made it a secret how much they aspire to replicate the Spurs, who at one point made the playoffs in 22 straight seasons and won five championships in that span. 

His answer said a lot, and it was a telling one. 

"It's a model that everybody would love to follow," Kerr said. "It requires a lot of luck and a lot of development, and shrewd management and personnel decisions. The way they were able to do it, drafting Tim [Duncan], Manu [Gibobili] and Tony [Parker] right around the same time, and all three of those guys playing such an extended run, upwards of 15 or more years in their respective careers -- but they extended their run by trading for Kawhi [Leonard]. 

"And then, you combine that with the stability within the organization, great player development with some other players, as well as their stars and that is the model. But a lot has to go right. 

"In that case, it's what you can do is try to put all the pieces in place and get really talented people, players, coaches, try to make the best decisions you can and hope that you can extend a run for two decades like they've been able to do. Even though it's the model, it's really hard to master what they've done." 


The Warriors have their own homegrown Tim, Manu and Tony in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Duncan was drafted in 1998, Ginobili was drafted in 1999 but didn't come to the NBA from Italy until 2002 and Parker was drafted in 2001. Curry came first in 2009, followed by Thompson in 2012 and Green in 2013. Ginobili was a second-round steal turned into a future Hall of Famer, just as Draymond is. 

Andre Iguodala joining the Warriors in the 2013 offseason in a sign-and-trade was a big piece of evidence that Golden State could reach a level that most thought could never be possible with the franchise. They shocked the NBA with their first title, broke the regular-season wins record the next year and then due to a handful of factors, they were able to sign Kevin Durant in free agency -- a previously unfathomable reality for a star of his status. 

In Kerr's first five seasons as the Warriors' head coach, they reached the NBA Finals every year. They won three of those and then injuries caught up to them in devastating fashion in 2019. At the start of the dynasty, they had their own injury luck with their opponents and by the end, the bug took a bite too big to handle. 

Player development has taken a recent positive turn with Jordan Poole producing like a future star in Year 3. The Warriors are also hoping Jonathan Kuminga can tap into his superstar potential, and the same goes with Moses Moody. However, James Wiseman's start to his pro career hasn't exactly gone as planned, and there are red flags aplenty.

The majority of Kerr's explanation is what we usually always hear when the Spurs and the Warriors get brought up. But did you miss the most important part? Kerr certainly didn't hide from it. 

Right behind the legendary draft picks of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker, Kerr went right to the Kawhi trade. On the night of the 2011 draft, the Spurs sent point guard George Hill to the Indiana Pacers for the No. 15 pick (Leonard), the No. 42 pick (Davis Bertans) and Erazem Lorbek. Hill was a key contributor on a contender and Leonard was a prospect that many loved but also came with big questions, including if could shoot and be a viable offensive player in the NBA. 

The Spurs rolled the dice and came out with a jackpot. 

Do the Warriors see their trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves that brought them Kuminga and Andrew Wiggins as a similar situation? Wiggins was an All-Star for the first time this season, and if any young player can extend a dynasty for its longest duration, Kuminga has the highest upside. 

Another move might have to be on the way in the near future. Steph is signed through the 2025-26 season, but Klay and Draymond are only signed for two more seasons after the conclusion of this one. Those three come with a hefty combined paycheck, and Green actually has a player option for the 2023-24 season. Poole will have to get paid, and his price tag has only gone up with each game this year.


Will Wiggins' stay come to an end as soon as this offseason? His contract costs $33.6 million next season, and he likely will be seeking a max deal or as close to one as possible in the summer of 2023 when he becomes a free agent. Such a move would also give more minutes to Kuminga, and only expedite his development. Even though his value has gone down after the All-Star break, the Warriors would hope to get back a piece in a Wiggins trade. The bigger mystery would be who else the Warriors would be willing to add to a trade. 

RELATED: How Lakers' epic fail opens Finals door for Dubs, others

All that is for the front office to figure out, perhaps in the next few months. For now, the Warriors are going to need the best from Wiggins, Poole and the rookies that they can get in the playoffs. All while searching high and low, near and far for good health to Steph, Klay and Draymond. 

Saturday's Warriors game in San Antonio very well might be the last time Kerr coaches against Popovich. It wouldn't seem right for Pop to take the Coach K route and have a season full of farewells. Him quietly going away and handing over his clipboard feels much more fitting. Even when he's gone, though, Kerr still will be learning from his mentor and friend, the Warriors still will be trying to do what he was able to accomplish for so long.

There's a reason so many see the Spurs as the NBA's standard, and there are just as many reasons why the Warriors have been trying to emulate them. That number only grows with reasons why so many franchises have fallen short of San Antonio.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast