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

22 Comments

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.

Willy Hernangomez ‘mad’ about falling from Knicks rotation

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
1 Comment

Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.

But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.

Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.

Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”

The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.

There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.

But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.

Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.

Report: Eric Bledsoe requested trade from Suns before season

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:

In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.

It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.

Another Hornets backup PG injured

Dave Reginek/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williamsout.

Nicolas Batum, who handled a lot of playmaking with Charlotte’s second units – out.

Julyan Stone, another Hornets backup point guard – out.

Hornets release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard Julyan Stone has suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. The injury occurred in practice on Sunday, Oct. 22 and he did not travel with the team to Milwaukee.  Stone is listed as out for tonight’s game against the Bucks and his expected recovery time is estimated at four to six weeks.

The Hornets have been outscored by an astounding 35.8 points per 100 possessions without starter Kemba Walker, producing an offensive rating of just 61.4. That’s in just 23 minutes, but the problem dates back to last season, when Charlotte was outscored by 7.0 points per 100 possessions with a 100.7 offensive rating sans Walker.

Now, the Hornets have little choice but to turn to rookie Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring guard, but his 6-foot-3 size means he has at least worked on playing point guard. Is he ready to play the position full-time for a team eying the playoffs. Probably not, but he’ll just have to do his best to keep Charlotte afloat in the few minutes Walker rests.

Report: Suns also fire three assistant coaches

AP Photo/Jim Urquhart
2 Comments

The Suns fired Earl Watson just three games into the season – the second-earliest firing in NBA history.

They didn’t stop there.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Firing assistant coaches during the season has become Phoenix’s m.o. I’m just not sure what it accomplishes.

Were Watson, Nate Bjorkgren, Mehmet Okur and Jason Fraser all so bad at their jobs? If so, why did the Suns figure that out simultaneously?

Were the firings designed to shake up a losing team? If so, wouldn’t ousting Watson have been enough?

Will Phoenix replace those assistants? If not, will the team have the resources to properly train its players?

The Suns are filled with young players who need coaching, particularly skill development. This move looks like it will put them further behind.