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.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.