Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr has options, but is reportedly focused only on Knicks, Warriors

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For a guy who hasn’t coached one game (or even been an assistant coach for one game), for a guy who’s first basketball decision as a GM was to look at a Mike D’Antoni squad and say “what this team needs is a plodding, out-of-shape Shaq,” Steve Kerr certainly is drawing a lot of interest now that he has made it clear he wants to be a head coach.

Kerr’s name has come up in rumors and reports with just about every NBA head coaching job that is available right now (maybe not Detroit, but everywhere else). He’s a guy well liked in NBA circles, which helps his appeal.

However he is focused on just two of those gigs — the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors — reports Howard Beck at Bleacher Report. And there are reasons he would want to go to both.

Although multiple teams have reached out to Kerr, NBA sources say he is focused strictly on the Warriors and the Knicks, each with a unique set of pros and cons.

The allure of working for Phil Jackson, Kerr’s longtime friend and mentor, is strong, according to associates of both men. Kerr knows he has much to learn, and having Jackson nearby would be a huge comfort. The New York stage is always a draw.

But if Kerr wants to contend immediately, the Warriors offer a much better opportunity—a roster that just won 51 games, and a backcourt tandem (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson) that ranks among the NBA’s best. The Warriors are young, talented and brimming with potential.

Kerr is going to have a learning curve wherever he lands (Beck does a good job laying out how teams are okay with that now, they want natural leaders and fell they can surround those people with the right support). Kerr needs to have a strong Xs and Os guy next to him on the bench (how much did Mark Jackson miss Mike Malone this season?). He’s got to have room to make mistakes and learn what he can do that works, learn how to build a team.

With the Knicks, the pressure is New York and essentially building a culture from scratch (so long as James Dolan lets them). That’s what Phil Jackson was hired to do, Kerr would be his extension on the court. Kerr would have time to learn because the Knicks are not going to be very good next year (better, good enough to get into the playoffs in the East, but not great).

The Warriors are close to family but the pressure there is a very active, hands-on ownership group that expects results yesterday. The job there is to win now, there is no time for a learning curve, and by the way you have to step into a locker room and replace a coach that was very popular with the players.

Most people around the league still expect him to land in New York.

It looks like Kerr will land one of those jobs, and the reports are he wants to make his decision relatively quickly. Maybe by the end of the week.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS — This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments — which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition — dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea — a drone dunk — but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest — interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS — The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation — they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help — Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.