Steve Kerr says he chose to be the next coach in Golden State because he wanted to win. Now.

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“I would much rather have talent and expectations than a low bar with a rebidding process ahead.”

If you wanted to know why Steve Kerr chose Golden State over the New York Knicks, that quote from him at his introductory press conference on Tuesday (streamed on CSNBayArea.com) was the clearest answer he gave. Yes, there is more money and more years than New York offered. But Kerr was clear that being on the West Coast close to his family (his daughter is at Cal, his son plays basketball for San Diego State, his other son is still in high school) matters a lot to him and was a big part of his decision.

But once he decided he was in he wanted the chance to win and that’s what Golden State offered — a roster that if well managed should have them in the thick of things in the West for the next decade.

“My view is not ‘we have to win 52 games next year’ or ‘we have to get to the second round,’” Kerr said of his goals. “My view is ’What are we going to do the next decade?’ ‘What are we going to do the next five years?’ My goal is to continue this upward trend the organization is on.”

Kerr was open that he comes into a pressure filled job with no coaching experience, but said this is something he has been building up toward. He said he had developed a philosophy, a plan for being a coach, he had done it over time, but was waiting for the right time to step into that spotlight.

“This is something I have thought about for a long time,” Kerr said. “I’ve been in the NBA 26 years, now, 15 as a player, eight as a broadcaster, three as a general manager, and the greatest moments of my career have come through team building. Whether it was going to the Final Four with my teammates in Arizona or being on champion teams with Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich, it is the magic of those experiences.”

Kerr said multiple times that he thought Mark Jackson had done a good job, and added during the interview process he wanted to know why they let a successful coach go. But he added that he felt a connection.

“I felt like I was choosing between two unbelievable opportunities,” Kerr said. “The Knicks, the brand speaks for itself, Phil Jackson, he’s been one of my mentors, the thought of him guiding me through my young coaching career was enticing. There were a lot of great things about the Knicks, he laid out a great plan….

“But when I sat down with the Warriors it just clicked. It was a better fit for me on a lot of fronts….

“The most important thing I’ve learned in sports is owner/GM/coach, that troika, that relationship between those three, is critical. The relationship between those three will determine how you get through the bumps.”

He thinks that is a fit in Golden State. Also, the roster is a whole lot better than the one in New York. Kerr said he has reached out to every player and spoken to all but a couple. While the players have not been public in showing support for Kerr — out of respect to Mark Jackson, who the players wanted to stay on — Kerr said the conversations have been good.

“The reception has been fantastic,” Kerr said. “One of the reason I wanted to come here was because of the success this team has had the last couple years under Mark, and the talent base that is here, and the character that is quite obvious on the roster.”

As you would expect of a polished broadcaster, Kerr was smooth and said all the right things during his press conference. The public face of the franchise side was never going to be the side Kerr struggled with.

Can he coach? Can he lead this team to the kind of consistency and level of play he talked about in the press conference? That is the real test and it starts soon (Kerr will continue broadcasting with TNT through the end of the Western Conference Finals).

Is Matisse Thybulle ready for a big step forward with 76ers?

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Matisse Thybulle brings a valuable NBA skill to the table — he is an elite perimeter defender. Two-time All-Defensive Team in three years in the league.

But when the 76ers got up against Miami in the playoffs, Thybulle’s role shrank dramatically. While Doc Rivers needed his defense, Thybulle’s lack of an offensive game became a problem — the Heat largely ignored him and helped off him, allowing Miami to muck up the Philly offense (he was limited in the Toronto series because he was not vaccinated and could not play in road games). The 76ers tried to solve that problem this offseason by bringing in DeAnthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker — solid role-playing defenders who can contribute on offense, too.

Thybulle wants to be part of the solution, too, and told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer he spent the summer focused on his offensive game.

“I’m really proud of what I did,” Thybulle said of his offseason. “I’ve worked harder than I’ve worked. And I had a meeting with [Sixers coach Doc Rivers] early this week and was telling him I feel more bought in than I’ve been before.”

No doubt Thybulle put in the work, we will find out soon if it paid off — and if that will get Thybulle paid.

Thybulle is entering a contract year — the 76ers can extend him up until Oct. 18, after which he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Thybulle said his goal is to remain in Philadelphia (and he’d like an extension).

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice.

“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

With a win-now Sixers team, Daryl Morey may be in a wait-and-see place with Thybulle, letting the market set his price next offseason. If he signs now, it will likely be on a team-friendly deal (but maybe one that still works for the 25-year-old).

If Thybulle gets on the court this season and shows an improved offensive game, one where he can make teams pay for helping off him, his price goes up and there may be multiple teams bidding for his services next summer. And Doc Rivers would be happy in the short term.

It’s up to Thybulle to prove it now.

 

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

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The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.

 

Vintage Kobe: Redeem Team recalls him running over Pau Gasol

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If the goal of a trailer is to get you to want to see the movie, then well done Netflix. I’m in.

Netflix released a trailer for its upcoming Redeem Team documentary on the 2008 Olympics, featuring some vintage Kobe Bryant. Just as a quick refresher, in 2008 the USA’s toughest opponent would be a deep Spanish team led by peak Pau Gasol but also with Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Juan Carlos Navarro and more. This was a legitimately dangerous team and one the USA would face first in group play.

Kobe wanted to set a tone — and did by running through his friend Gasol. (Warning: There is NSFW language in the video clip below.)

“‘First play of the game I’m running through Pau Gasol.’ And we was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘First play of the game, I know what they’re gonna run.’ And he knew Pau was gonna be the last screen and he said ‘I’m running through him,'” Dwayne Wade said

Spoiler alert: The USA thrashed Spain in group stage play. However, come the Gold Medal game it was a lot tougher for the Americans to beat the Spaniards, with Kobe having to have a big fourth quarter and — what often goes unremembered — a master class from Chris Paul in game management to control the tempo and flow.

I’m all in for the documentary, which drops on Oct. 7 on Netflix.

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson to miss start of training camp with shoulder injury

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Keldon Johnson is poised to have a monster season on a rebuilding Spurs team.

Except he’s going to miss the start of training camp and the team’s preseason games. And could be out longer.

Johnson suffered a “right shoulder posterior dislocation during Spurs open gym” the team announced Saturday. Posterior dislocations are rare (less than 5% of all dislocations) and are usually from a fall on an extended arm. Recovering from the injury depends on many factors but can extend out for months. However, the Spurs said Johnson is expected to be available for the start of the regular season less than a month from now.

Johnson averaged 17 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season, and is an elite perimeter shooter off the catch-and-shoot (39.8% from 3 overall), who also can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (to Dejounte Murray, who is now in Atlanta).

The Spurs will be cautious with bringing Johnson back. Even in what could be Gregg Popovich’s last season as coach the Spurs are looking more to be part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes than push for a playoff spot. Johnson is a quality player who helps San Antonio win games, which both is why they want him back healthy and why they are not going to rush him.