The Golden State Warriors announced late Wednesday that Steve Kerr has reached an agreement in principal to become the team’s next head coach. Kerr will replace Mark Jackson to become the 25th head coach in franchise history. David Aldridge of TNT was the first to break the news.
Although terms of the deal were not announced, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the contract is for five years worth $25 million. Once the deal is finalized, a press conference will be held to introduce Kerr to the Bay Area.
Kerr played 15 seasons in the NBA and was part of five championship teams. It was his 14-foot jumper in Game 6 that clinched the 1997 title for the Chicago Bulls. In 910 games, Kerr averaged 6.0 points on 47.9 percent shooting. The sharpshooter currently holds the NBA record for both career (.454) and single-season (.524) 3-point shooting percentage.
Kerr retired in 2003 and spent the next four seasons as a color commentator for TNT. In 2007, Kerr was hired to be the president of basketball operations and general manager of the Phoenix Suns. Kerr spent three seasons in the desert before returning to TNT, where he’s been for the past four seasons. Under Kerr’s leadership, the Suns went 151-91 (.630) and made the Western Conference Finals in his last year.
After Jackson was fired by Golden State last week, the top two names that came up as his replacement were Stan Van Gundy and Kerr. Van Gundy might have been the Warriors’ first choice, but he accepted a position with the Detroit Pistons on Monday that gave him full power.
After Phil Jackson took over basketball operations for the New York Knicks, Kerr had been expected to become their next head coach and was supposedly in the home stretch of the negotiations. With Van Gundy out of the picture, owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers took a last swing at getting Kerr -- who became a hot coaching commodity overnight despite having no previous experience. Kerr met with Golden State’s brain trust on Tuesday in Oklahoma City. Lo and behold, the Warriors have their next head coach.
In an interview with Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area New Group, Kerr said he chose the Warriors because California is where his heart is. Kerr lives in San Diego with his wife and two sons. His daughter plays volleyball at Cal. The Warriors also have a superior roster over the Knicks. Add in the fact that Kerr has close ties to Warriors President Rick Welts, who served the same role in Phoenix when Kerr was there, the Warriors are a more comfortable fit than the Knicks.
Kerr will have big shoes to fill. The Warriors went 121-109 (.526) in three seasons under Jackson, including 98-66 (.598) in the last two. Jackson led Golden State to consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in over two decades and is just the third head coach in franchise history to lead a team to at least 50 wins in a season.
Lacob and Myers have said that firing Jackson was for the betterment of the organization and also that someone else was needed to take the team to the next level. How do they define the next level? Is it a championship? Is it being a top-four team in the tough Western Conference? Is it just one more win or two less bad losses at home? Ultimately they, along with Kerr, will be judged on wins and losses. Only time will tell if this was a right fire and hire.