SAN FRANCISCO — Late in Steve Kerr’s 30-minute exit interview on Tuesday afternoon, it was brought to his attention that he referenced Jordan Poole’s preseason punch Draymond Green three times .
“To be fair, you also asked about the incident,” Kerr said. “I didn’t just talk about it.”
Partially true. Kerr was at least initially nudged in that direction, asked first about the Warriors’ diminishing chemistry over that now-defunct season. But he did not steer the subject down a vague path. He brought the punch straight.
“Some of that (the chemistry) was lost this year for sure,” Kerr said. “There is no hiding it. The incident with Draymond and Jordan at the start of the year played a role in this. It’s hard that it doesn’t impact a team… Every time some trust is lost, it makes the process a lot more difficult and there has been a loss of trust. It’s as direct as possible.
Kerr remained candid throughout his press conference, addressing a variety of the Warriors’ biggest issues and looming offseason issues from an honest perspective. Let’s go through several of them, but let’s start with the green and the ramifications of the punch.
An outsider would obviously wonder if Green’s cold clock was catastrophic enough to end his 11-year career with the Warriors. He has a $27.6 million player option for next season and the ability to explore an open market that would have suitors. The Warriors would also have ways to terminate his contract even if he chose the option.
But neither side seems interested in a split. Green continues to maintain that he wants to return and the Warriors (as we reported) intend to discuss a multi-year extension with him.
“Look, if Draymond isn’t back, we’re not a championship contender,” Kerr said. “We know that. He’s so important to winning and for who we are. I absolutely want him back. He’s a competitor. He’s an incredible defensive player.
But the punch and its ramifications…
“He and I have built a really special relationship that has run the gamut over the years,” Kerr said. “We had our share of clashes. But we’ve been through so much. We really care about each other and work well together. He knows he’s had a great season this year, basketball-wise. But he knows he also compromised things by what happened in October.
“So part of his coming back next year has to be rebuilding some of that trust and respect that he’s earned here for a long time. One thing I love about Draymond is that he’s always brutally honest, and he can take that kind of criticism because he knows it’s the truth. I want him to come back. I think we all want him back. I hope that is exactly what is happening.
This automatically redirects the conversation to Poole and his future with the Warriors. His four-year, $123 million extension will take effect next season, pushing the Warriors’ salary plus tax bill past the $400 million threshold that Joe Lacob previously said he wouldn’t touch.
Poole, due to his struggles in the playoffs and the delicate internal dynamic with Green, stands as the clearest candidate to move, whether for a roster shake-up (if Lacob Green lights up a doped bill) or a pay cut (if it is a property requirement). But that’s not Kerr’s department. If Poole is back, he has to train him. If he trains him, he must support him.
“I called him one of the six founders late last year,” Kerr said. ” I still believe in. It’s important to remember that Jordan has done some really good things this year. He had a tough time in the playoffs, but he averaged 20 points per game for us. It’s hard to average 20 points in the NBA. He helped us win a lot of games. He helped us win a championship a year ago. He would be the first to admit it wasn’t his best season. But that’s how it goes. That’s how careers go.
Over the next year, Kerr’s future will come into more focus. He only has one season left on his contract. This is usually when established coaches go in search of an extension, providing a level of professional stability gained through success. But there have been no extension talks between Kerr and the Warriors yet.
“Our organization has a lot to do this summer,” Kerr said. “My contract situation is not, and should not be, at the top of the list. Right now Bob’s (Myers) contract situation is number one because it influences a lot of player decisions that need to be made, contracts, draft, free agency. We’ll come back to my business whenever it happens and I’m in no rush for it.
Kerr will head to San Diego for a summer decompression, but he’ll be back coaching in August, preparing Team USA for the world championships in the Philippines. This tournament continues at the beginning of September. Upon his return, he will jump straight into training camp with the Warriors.
“I love coaching,” Kerr said. “I love coaching these players. I love coaching the Warriors. I love living in the bay. But I’m also in the NBA and all you have to do is look at your phone every day and see the next Hall of Fame coach to be fired. It’s crazy. I’ve never seen the league like this.
Mike Budenholzer, Nick Nurse, Monty Williams and Doc Rivers have all been let go this cycle.
“I’m under no illusions that I have a lifetime job here or anything like that,” Kerr said. “But I love what I do and I hope to be a coach here for a long time. But you never know how things work out. So we’ll see.
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While doing the autopsy on exactly where this season went wrong, Kerr brought up one particular statistic that had clearly been a backstage conversation for the past few days.
“We can’t be No. 1 in pace and No. 29 in transition efficiency,” Kerr said. ” It does not work. It must be underlined. »
Kerr blamed shot selection and a propensity for wild turnovers as factors in this terrible transition efficiency. Then he brought up fouling.
“You watch the Lakers series,” Kerr said. “The two games we won, we defended well without failing. The four games we lost, we fouled like crazy. It’s just there. There are some things we really need to improve. But it’s up to me as head coach to ensure that our staff and all the players are locked down from next year on X, Y and Z. That’s where we’re going to improve. We need to have our practices and exercise work to make the specific improvements we need to make.
Jonathan Kuminga had great periods of basketball encouragement during his sophomore season. After the All-Star break, he averaged 13.2 points and showed encouraging defensive ability on the ball, guarding several star scorers and becoming a versatile option in a switching scheme. He shot 37% from 3 and provided rim pressure that doesn’t otherwise exist on a smaller roster devoid of elite athleticism.
But Kuminga disappeared from the playoff rotation and grew frustrated as he rotted on the bench. Why did Kerr leave him?
“The biggest thing was with (Andrew Wiggins) and Gary (Payton II) back in place, it reduced the need for what JK’s strength is right now, which is defense on the ball,” Kerr said. “The best way for Jonathan – and I told him – the best way for him to get more playing time is to become a more versatile player.”
Kerr has previously compared Kuminga’s ability to prime Shawn Marion, believing Kuminga’s fastest way to make a major impact is as a high-rebounding slasher and multi-position defender.
“I look at every combination we come up with as a puzzle,” Kerr said. “The puzzle must hold. The more things you can do, the easier it is to fit into a five-man lineup. Bouncing back is a huge thing for JK. If he wants to be a great player in this league, he has to bounce back. A quadruple with that kind of size and athleticism is the next step, and continuing to work on all the things he’s already working on, shooting and ball handling and pitch vision, figuring out what’s going on passes on the ground. Everything will improve because he is so young and because he is ready to work.
The third season is often a leap season for promising young players. It was Poole’s great escape. Does Kerr think it’s Kuminga?
“Yeah. I do,” Kerr said. “I think, of course, people are going to focus on the playoffs because it’s the most important time of the year. But if you look at the season Jonathan’s regular, he did great things. I tell him all the time, he has 15 years ahead of him. He has such a long career ahead of him. He’s got a lot of ability and he’s just learning the NBA game.
The Warriors stumbled from a 3-7 start and sat at 15-18 in 33 games. Several factors led to this struggle. But one reason that was often complained about in the first six weeks was Klay Thompson’s diminished early season form.
He didn’t play basketball last summer, entered camp in bad shape, couldn’t make his debut until the last preseason game, and looked bad until December. Thompson finally found a rhythm and had two of the best months of his career, lighting it up enough to finish the regular season leading the NBA in 3 seconds.
But it’s clear the Warriors want and expect Thompson to come to camp next season in better shape to ensure they don’t face the first month. Green mentioned that he, Thompson and Stephen Curry had this exact discussion while flying back from Los Angeles. Kerr noted this when asked about Thompson on Tuesday.
“The most important thing for Klay is to have a great offseason,” Kerr said. “At 34, 33, I think with two major injuries behind him, it’s a time when he needs to be more prepared than ever for the first day of training camp, not only to physically manage the injuries and the strength and conditioning part of it all, but also understanding that as you get older you have to improve and the areas you can improve in. You can’t count on the same things you could count on at 28 or 27.
(Photo by Draymond Green and Steve Kerr: Harry How/Getty Images)
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