Warriors’ Steve Kerr to pursue more answers for health issues

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr will be given time throughout the summer to explore medical options that could alleviate the symptoms he still experiences nearly two years after a spinal fluid leak from back surgery.

General manager Bob Myers said Monday that Kerr would have time off as needed in the coming weeks to find more options to better his long-term health, and Kerr said he would be traveling to do so.

“I think at the point we’re at now, it’s what makes you 5-10-15 percent better? And that’s what he’s going to pursue and explore with our blessing,” Myers said. “The hope is he got back to the place he was prior to leaving in Portland, which is not where he wants to be but he can coach. There’s a little bit of a misconception that stepping away would help him heal. And I tried to dispel that and you should ask him, because I think even he gets a little offended at the notion of, `Just step away and go get better.’ I said this before, this is where he feels the best, which may be counterintuitive to what people think. It’s not that the job diminishes him in any way. Actually, the job, I would say, propels him.”

The 51-year-old Kerr returned from a six-week absence for Game 2 of the NBA Finals and coached the rest of the way as Golden State won its second championship in three seasons. He stepped away after Game 2 against Portland in the first round of the playoffs.

After last Thursday’s victory parade, Kerr headed to San Diego on Friday, hit the beach and swam in the ocean.

“My initial thought was to get some salt water and some sand. It felt pretty good. Salt-water therapy,” he said. “I’ve got a few things going that I’m pursuing right now. I’m going to be traveling some. I’m not going to go into detail. There’s a lot of different thoughts and ways I can see some improvement, seeing various people and trying to really get some traction early in the summer.

“The good news is I did feel a lot better from where I was six weeks ago. I feel like I’m making some strides. I definitely want to gain some momentum here early in the summer and really kind of build on that momentum and be feeling a lot better hopefully soon.”

Kerr and Myers have a lot to do as the start of free agency begins July 1.

Finals MVP Kevin Durant can opt out of the second year in his contract June 29 in order to restructure his deal to make it more team-friendly so Golden State has the means to try to re-sign other free agents such as Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston – two key members of the two title teams.

Durant said publicly last week he is willing to be flexible, and even told Myers and Kerr as much during their exit interview. They just can’t begin any formal talks until July 1.

“You just say, `Let’s talk about that in July,”‘ Myers said. “It’s a positive thing, right? It’s positive. Free agency’s so fast and it’s so fluid, you really just hope you’ve created a place where there can be honest dialogue back and forth.”

Stephen Curry also has said that while he looks forward to a hefty raise, he would be willing to discuss a new deal – he could command more than $200 million – that allows the Warriors to put another championship-caliber team on the floor.

After a couple of days with his wife and two daughters, Myers has been number-crunching and preparing a long to-do list to build another winner. The time crunch comes with hoisting the trophy at season’s end.

“I’d rather be just having a glass of wine,” he said. “Maybe in August.”

NOTES: Myers expects the coaching staff to remain intact. … The Warriors don’t have a draft pick Thursday but could buy one if the situation is right. … Player development coach Chris DeMarco will coach the Warriors’ summer league team, with Patrick McCaw planning to play at least some of the games in Las Vegas. Willie Green and Nick U’Ren will be assistants. … With Hall of Famer Jerry West having left his position as executive board member, Myers said he will still keep in touch and figures West might still offer some counsel.

 

Joseph Tsai to buy rest of Nets, Barclays Arena for $3.4 billion

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NEW YORK — Joe Tsai has agreed to buy the remaining 51 percent of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center from Mikhail Prokhorov in deals that two people with knowledge of the details say are worth about $3.4 billion.

Terms were not disclosed Friday, but the people told The Associated Press that Tsai is paying about $2.35 billion for the Nets – a record for a U.S. pro sports franchise – and nearly $1 billion in a separate transaction for the arena. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the transactions have not yet been completed.

Tsai is the co-founder and executive vice president of the Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant. He already had purchased a 49 percent stake in the team from Prokhorov in 2018, with the option to become controlling owner in four years.

Instead, he pushed up that timeline for full ownership of a team on the rise after signing superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in July.

Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, became the NBA’s first non-North American owner in 2010 and oversaw the Nets’ move from New Jersey to Brooklyn two years later. He spent big in the first couple years after the move in a quest to chase a championship, but the team soon became one of the worst in the NBA before rallying to return to the playoffs last season.

“It has been an honor and a joy to open Barclays Center, bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and watch them grow strong roots in the community while cultivating global appeal,” Prokhorov said in a statement. “The team is in a better place today than ever before and I know that Joe will build on that success, while continuing to deliver the guest experience at Barclays Center that our fans, employees, and colleagues in the industry enjoy.”

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of September and is subject to approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors.

That would put Tsai, a native of Taiwan, in full control of the team by the time the Nets head to China to play two exhibition games against the Los Angeles Lakers in October. That comes at the start of a season of renewed excitement for the Nets, who just three seasons ago won an NBA-worst 20 games but are set to make a big move up the standings after landing two of the best players on the market when free agency opened.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago. He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank,” Tsai said. “I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful.”

Brett Yormark, the CEO of BSE Global, which manages the team and the arena, will oversee the transition before leaving for a new role.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder tells Donovan Mitchell to ‘be a sponge’ around Gregg Popovich

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While other players continue to pull out of the USA Basketball roster — De'Aaron Fox was the latest, and P.J. Tucker before him — Utah’s Donovan Mitchell has been outspoken in his commitment to the team.

“Me, I’m 22, some guys are older and got to rest their bodies and I understand that…” Mitchell said Friday night after Team USA’s exhibition game win over Spain. “For me, I’ve never been part of USA Basketball and I’m honored to be here, I’m honored to have this privilege to go out and compete.”

A lot of players have left — or just not put their names in the hat in the first place — saying they wanted to focus on preparing for the regular season, especially players in the Western Conference, which is deep with outstanding teams. The Utah Jazz, now with Mike Conley at the point, are one of those teams with high expectations.

Mitchell, however, has the full backing of his coach Quin Snyder to stay with Team USA and learn from Gregg Popovich, as Snyder told Marc Stein of the New York Times.

“Both Donovan and I have been excited for this opportunity, not just the chance to compete for his country but to play for Pop. I think he has an appreciation for the fact that he’s playing for the greatest coach that’s ever coached…

“Just try to throw yourself completely into it,” Snyder said he told Mitchell. “And try to communicate with Coach as much as you can. Be a sponge.”

Popovich has had an impact on the young players on the roster. For example, there’s more maturity to Kyle Kuzma‘s game, and Popovich recognized him on the court Friday night when Kuzma made a couple of smart plays against Spain.

Just having different coaching voices — not just Popovich but his assistants Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, and Villanova’s Jay Wright — can help a young player. The message may be consistent, but said in a different way, one that better gets through to the player. Styles matter.

Mitchell led Team USA in scoring against Spain with 13, but Snyder and Jazz fans are hoping for more. Not just gold at the World Cup in China starting Sept. 1, but that Mitchell comes back energized and with a broadened game after having been a sponge next to Popovich.

Marcus Smart reportedly cleared to play for Team USA

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Through two weeks of training camp, first in Las Vegas then in Los Angeles, through one intrasquad scrimmage and one exhibition game, Marcus Smart has sat in street clothes.

The Celtics guard has a calf injury that has sidelined him. On Thursday in Los Angeles he took part in the shooting parts of practice during training camp, but not the full-contact scrimmages against the select team. All he could really do was this.

Friday night he never got out of his warmups and did not play against Spain, but he did say on the broadcast he would be back.

Turns out, he was cleared to be back the next day according to Mark Stein of the New York Times.

This takes away a little of the sting of De'Aaron Fox deciding to withdraw from the team just before it left on Saturday for Australia.

It also means four Celtics are on the USA roster: Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. USA assistant coach Steve Kerr jokingly said to me last week he asked Brad Stevens for a thank you gift for running Celtics mini-camp.

Smart is one of the 13 players headed down under for a series of tune-up games before the World Cup (against Australia and Canada). If he’s fully healthy enough to go, Smart is a lock to make the roster because of his physical perimeter defense and ability to shoot the three (36 percent last season in the NBA, and the international line is a little closer in). He likely would come off the bench at the two behind Donovan Mitchell.

Bill Walton broadcast White Sox vs. Angels game and was nothing short of brilliant

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Bill Walton is brilliant.

The Hall of Fame hippie and big man was in the broadcast booth Friday night — not for basketball, but for the White Sox vs. Angels MLB game. Walton loves baseball even if his understanding of the sport is… unconventional.

I want Bill Walton to narrate my life.

The world missed him while he battled serious back issues, it’s so good to have him out and around and being himself again.