Steve Kerr returning to coach Warriors against Pacers tonight

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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It’s a few weeks later than he hoped, but Steve Kerr looks healthy and is returning to the sidelined.

Warriors release:

Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr is returning from his leave of absence and will be on the bench to coach the Warriors tonight in their game against the Indiana Pacers at Oracle Arena, the team announced today.

Kerr originally took a leave of absence on October 1, 2015, to focus on rehabilitation and recovery from a pair of offseason back surgeries. After leading the Warriors to a franchise-record 67 regular-season victories in 2015-16 and the team’s first NBA Championship in 40 years, Kerr underwent surgery on his back to repair a ruptured disc in late July and a follow-up surgery in early September.

Luke Walton, the team’s lead assistant coach, served as interim head coach in Kerr’s absence and helped guide the Warriors to a 39-4 record, which equals the second-best record through 43 games in NBA history (trailing only the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls at 40-3). Walton was named NBA Coach of the Month in November as the Warriors began the season with 24-consecutive victories, the most wins ever to start a season in professional team sports.

Walton did an admirable job in Kerr’s absence, and that will get the assistant coach major consideration for head-coaching openings this offseason. I would be surprised if he doesn’t get an offer.

But the Warriors are better with Kerr, who instilled a culture so strong, it persisted while he was away.

After getting rocked by the Pistons, Golden State appears to have regained its stride – beating the Cavaliers by 34 and Bulls by 31.

Perhaps, the Warriors’ defense could use a little tightening. We saw last year they had elite capability on that end, and they haven’t quite sustained that this season. Kerr could help there.

Kerr returns for a three-game home stand with games against the Pacers, Spurs and Mavericks. That should allow Kerr to acclimate to the job’s physical demands before travelling, though he had been travelling with the team lately.