Sunday, April 21 2024

Kerr’s Warriors extension sign of continuity, ends ‘Last Dance’ talk originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Ninety minutes before tipoff Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets, Warriors coach Steve Kerr, standing in the hallway outside the team’s locker room at Chase Center, was in full laughter at a comment I’d made.

The comment was unrelated to his contract status.

His laughter surely could have been.

Kerr, 58, already had agreed to a two-year contract extension that will make him the highest paid coach in the NBA: $35 million, in effect through the 2025-26 season. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and confirmed by NBC Sports Bay Area.

Asked to comment after the 97-84 win over the Hornets, Kerr declined but offered a reasonable explanation:

“Nothing has been signed, so Raymond has asked me to hold off on commenting on anything until an actual contract is signed,” Kerr said, referencing Raymond Ridder, the team’s senior vice president of communications.

Kerr was grinning while saying this, and his grin broadened when he responded to the next question, which asked how he felt about his future with the Warriors.

“Really good,” Kerr said.

This move is, above all, an investment into the team’s desire for continuity. Golden State CEO Joe Lacob values it, and general manager Mike Dunleavy understands its significance.

Then, too, continuity has served the Warriors well since the ownership group Lacob leads took over in 2010. Only two coaches have been hired: Mark Jackson and then Kerr. The team has had one franchise player, Curry, who has been teammates with Thompson and Green since 2012.

At an average of $17.5 million per season, Kerr’s new deal puts him behind San Antonio Spurs Hall of Fame coach and team president Gregg Popovich in annual earnings, who last summer signed a new five-year contract.

Kerr’s deal puts an emphatic end to the “Last Dance” murmurs about Golden State this season. It also silences the whispers that Lacob was getting antsy with paying the league’s largest payroll for a mediocre product and might seek a change.

The first half of this season has been among the most turbulent of his 10 years with the Warriors, from a steady search for effective lineups and rotations to multiple suspensions for Green to Thompson’s inconsistency and frustrations in a contract year.

But Kerr has consistently said that he wanted to continue coaching beyond this season. The proof is this extension.

The extension aligns Kerr’s future with the franchise through the final guaranteed year of Green’s contract as well as the duration of the team’s contract with superstar Stephen Curry. Green has a player option for 2026-27.

Green was not surprised to by the news.

“I know Joe was going to do the right thing,” he said. “He’s done nothing but build that trust with us to know that he’s going do the right thing and take care of those who have taken care of this organization.”

The Warriors won four championships in Kerr’s first eight seasons, the most recent coming in a victory over the Boston Celtics in 2022. Since Kerr’s arrival in 2014, Golden State – with four playoff appearances in the previous 20 years – has appeared in five NBA Finals and made the postseason seven times.

Kerr’s career record through Thursday was 501-264. His .665 winning percentage is tops among all active coaches with at least two seasons on the bench.

Which brings us to the comment that had Kerr cackling before the game.

He picked up his 500th career victory last week against the Jazz in Golden State’s final game before the All-Star break to become the sixth active coach to reach that milestone.

I told him I wondered, facetiously, if he might celebrate by trying to go through 500 bottles of his favorite beer during the six-day All-Star break.

“Nah,” said Kerr after regaining his composure. “That was college.”

He did, however, acknowledge drinking his share of champagne during the break. Considering his new security and the wealth to come, that makes perfect sense.

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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