Steve Kerr Bypasses Phil Jackson’s Knicks To Accept Warriors Vacancy
TNT Sports Analyst Steve Kerr won’t join Ex-Coach Phil Jackson in New York, accepts Warriors five year $25M coaching offer:
Via NY Times:
Steve Kerr stunned the Knicks on Wednesday by agreeing to a deal to become the coach of the Golden State Warriors.
Phil Jackson, the Knicks’ new president, had been chasing Kerr for weeks to fill the vacancy left by Mike Woodson, whom Jackson fired last month. Jackson and Kerr, 48, have a longstanding relationship dating to their time together with the Chicago Bulls, with whom Kerr won three championships as a player.
But in recent days, Kerr was wooed by the Warriors, who were searching to replace the recently dismissed Mark Jackson, and Kerr confirmed in a text message that he had taken the job. He agreed to a five-year deal worth $25 million.
The Warriors are a more talented team than the Knicks, with a solid core of young players like Stephen Curry. As such, Golden State could be the more promising place for Kerr to begin his coaching career.
But there were other factors as well. Kerr lives in San Diego, and his children go to school in California. His daughter, Madeleine, attends U.C. Berkeley, a short drive from the Warriors’ practice complex.
“It just felt like the right move on many levels,” Kerr said in an interview with NBA.com. “They have a good young team. The location is ideal.”
The Knicks also have a reputation for operating as something less than a beacon of stability under the owner James L. Dolan. When Jackson joined the Knicks in March amid a disastrous season that left the team short of the playoffs, he sought assurances from Dolan that he would have full autonomy to run the Knicks’ basketball operations. Whether that was the case throughout Jackson’s pursuit of Kerr was not clear. In his interview with NBA.com, Kerr said it was a difficult decision.
“It was so tantalizing on many levels,” Kerr said of the Knicks’ job. “Number one, Phil Jackson. Number two, the Knicks are a flagship franchise, one of the great franchises in the league. The last two weeks have been agonizing, in talking with Phil and Steve Mills. They’ve got really good people there and I do think they’re going to get it turned around there. The Knicks could not have been better in giving me the space to make a decision.”
Now, Jackson must turn to Plan B, although there is no shortage of viable candidates. There could also be some public pressure on Jackson to coach the team himself. Still, he has maintained that he has no plans to return to the bench.
Jackson had said from the start of his search that he would prefer to hire someone acutely familiar with the triangle offense. Jackson is the triangle’s most unabashed and highest-profile advocate, and he used it to great effect, winning 11 titles as the coach of the Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.
So Jackson began to court Kerr almost immediately, leaving little doubt that Kerr was his top choice. “We meet very similar space about coaching in a lot of ways,” Jackson said last month.
They dined together in Manhattan on April 25 and met again the next day. Kerr, who was on assignment that weekend with Turner Sports to help broadcast a playoff game between the Nets and the Toronto Raptors, said he was doing his due diligence.
Kerr must have known that the job would be fraught with challenges, especially in the short term. Carmelo Anthony, the team’s best player, plans to test free agency this summer. Regardless of Anthony’s plans, the Knicks will be flush against the salary cap until the summer of 2015, and Jackson will be limited in his ability to make meaningful personnel moves until then.
In addition, coaching the Knicks has not exactly been the most secure occupation in recent years. The person Jackson winds up hiring will be the team’s eighth head coach since 2003.
The Knicks had been stuck in a bit of a holding pattern while awaiting Kerr’s decision. He has a reputation for being rigorous and methodical, as a man who does his research. He likes to evaluate his options. Several were available to him, even if the lure of rejoining Jackson, whom Kerr considers a mentor, was strong. So the Knicks waited, and waited some more.
In the meantime, the N.B.A. was busy. Kevin Durant collected his first Most Valuable Player trophy while guiding the Oklahoma City Thunder to the cusp of the Western Conference finals. Donald Sterling, the longtime owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was barred from the league for life for making racist statements. V. Stiviano, who recorded Sterling, introduced herself to the world. And the Knicks’ J. R. Smith took advantage of an early start to his off-season by playing many rounds of golf.
Kerr continued to say little publicly about his discussions with the Knicks. So when it was revealed that Kerr had cast the lone first-place vote for the Knicks’ Tim Hardaway Jr. in the N.B.A.’s rookie of the year balloting, observers were left to try to connect the dots. Did it mean something?
And while the Knicks did hold a news conference Wednesday night, it was only to unveil the name and logo of their new Development League team based in White Plains. (For the record, the D-League Knicks will be known as the Westchester Knicks.)
Kerr said he received a contract offer from the Knicks that was more than fair but that Jackson had given him his blessing to speak with the Warriors about their opening.
“It was agonizing to say no to Phil because of what I think of him and what he’s done for my career,” Kerr said. “When Phil Jackson asks you to coach the Knicks, how do you say no? I think they’re going to turn it around, but it’s going to be a big undertaking and it’s going to take time. The idea of doing that 3,000 miles from home, it just didn’t feel right.”
Kerr spent 15 seasons in the league as a player, averaging 6 points and 1.8 assists a game. He won three straight championships with the Bulls, from 1996 to 1998, before winning two more as a reserve with the San Antonio Spurs, in 1999 and 2003. He retired as the league’s career leader in 3-point percentage (.454), a mark that still stands.
Kerr was the president and general manager of the Phoenix Suns from 2007 to 2010. The Suns compiled a 155-91 record and made two playoff appearances during Kerr’s three seasons in charge.
Executives from the Warriors met with Kerr this week in Oklahoma City, where he was broadcasting a game. The Warriors had been pursuing Stan Van Gundy, but he accepted an offer Wednesday to join the Detroit Pistons as their coach and president for basketball operations.
With two suitors, Kerr had all the leverage. He used it to the very end.
Posted on May 16, 2014, in NBA, Sports Media World and tagged Knicks, Phil Jackson, Steve Kerr, Warriors. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Steve Kerr Bypasses Phil Jackson’s Knicks To Accept Warriors Vacancy.