It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors have been infatuated with Steve Kerr ever since the team fired head coach Mark Jackson. However, it was hard to see Kerr going anywhere other than the New York Knicks, where he would coach under his former coach and current Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson.
That’s just what happened yesterday, when Kerr spurned the Knicks and opted to take the Warriors’ coaching vacancy. The 48 year old Kerr — who has never coached before, but was the GM of the Phoenix Suns from 2007-2010 — called the decision “agonizing,” and described the prospect of coaching the Knicks “tantalizing.” However, Kerr decided that staying on the west coast and coaching the talent-rich Warriors was the right move.
“It just felt like the right move on many levels,” Kerr said by phone Wednesday. “They have a good young team. The location is ideal. My daughter goes to Cal and plays volleyball. My oldest son is in college in San Diego and our youngest is a junior in high school. It’s just a short flight for them.”
“It was so tantalizing on many levels,” Kerr said. “Number one, Phil Jackson. Number two, the Knicks are a flagship franchise, one of the great franchises in the league. The last two weeks have been agonizing, in talking with Phil and (general manager) Steve Mills. They’ve got really good people there and I do think they’re going to get it turned around there. The Knicks could not have been better in giving me the space to make a decision, especially when I had a game to do every other night.”
Three other teams tried to get in on discussions with Kerr about their teams, but Kerr was committed to seeing the talks with the Knicks through. But he couldn’t get the Warriors out of his mind.
“Ultimately, it was agonizing to say no to Phil because of what I think of him and what he’s done for my career,” said Kerr, who won three titles playing for Jackson in Chicago with the Bulls. “When Phil Jackson asks you to coach the Knicks, how do you say no? I think they’re going to turn it around, but going to be a big undertaking and it’s going to take time. The idea of doing that 3,000 miles from home, it just didn’t feel right.”
Kerr told Jackson Tuesday, before working the Thunder-Clippers game, that despite an offer from New York that was “more than fair,” he was strongly considering taking the Golden State offer.
“I told Phil, ‘I think I have to pursue this other opportunity,’ Kerr said. “He gave me his blessing. He said go look at it, and do what was in my heart.”
Kerr reportedly signed a contract worth five years and $25 million, according to Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski.