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.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.