Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr congratulates Golden State Warriors’ Andre Iguodala (9) in the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, June 4, 2017. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
LAS VEGAS — Fresh off a vacation to Hawaii, Warriors coach Steve Kerr arrived in Las Vegas on Monday to check out some of his young players in summer league.
He sat courtside with his wife and some of his staff, but periodically hopped around the arena to chat with a number of people around the league who nearly all opened with the same question: “How are you feeling?”
“I feel good,” Kerr said. “If I could live in Hawaii and coach the team from there, I think I’d be fine the whole time.”
Included among his stops, Kerr took time to sit down with the Bay Area News Group for about 10 minutes to discuss the Warriors’ eventful offseason, their free agency signings, Kevin Durant’s surprising paycut and more. Here is the transcript.
Take me through the free agency period from your perspective. A lot went down, but most importantly, you bring Steph (Curry), Kevin (Durant) and Andre (Iguodala).
Everything has gone beautifully. Happy for Steph that he got paid. Happy for Andre that he was rewarded for what he’s done here and I think he’s got gas left in the tank. KD facilitated a lot of that. I think some of our other signings were good — Nick Young and Omri Casspi. We have more shooting now than we did a year ago, which is a big deal. Even though everyone thinks it was (a cruise) last year, there were games where we needed another shooter.
Were you part of that Andre back and forth at all at the start of free agency?
What’d you think of that process?
I think he should be an agent when he’s done. He should represent other guys.
The decision by Kevin to take the huge paycut of nearly $9.5 million. Sounded like that surprised Bob (Myers). How surprised were you and what were your thoughts on it?
I knew he was going to give up enough money to allow us to keep Andre and Shaun. I didn’t know he was going to go beyond that. A remarkable gesture. I told him it reminded me a little bit of Tim Duncan and his time with the Spurs. He made max money and then at key times in his career he took a little less so they could add a player here and there. The way the league works, the way the CBA works, it really kind of is up to the star player at key times to take a little haircut here and there. Whether that’s fair or not, I don’t know. But I do know that Tim knew it was dramatically helping his own career and KD understands the same thing. In the end, he’s going to make a fortune in his career. Already has and he hopefully is going to win more titles and that’s what he cares about.
Sounded like you were really at the forefront of the chase to get Nick Young. I know your conversations with Luke (Walton) played a part and Bob said you really wanted him.
Yeah. I think Nick fits our style. He’s 6-foot-7, great 3-point shooter, better defensively than he once was. Used to be a disaster defensively and Luke said he that he was excellent defensively for them last year. He knows how we play — switching, anticipating. We think he’s a perfect fit for us. That’s why Draymond and Kevin came to the meeting and sealed the deal.
Beyond your own free agents, was Nick really the one guy you identified as who you wanted to chase?
Yeah, he was one of them. Again, it’s the way this league has evolved. Length and shooting, 3s and defense. And you also add a guy who can make a play off the dribble, finish at the rim and he can shoot, now you got something. That’s what we had with our roster the last few years. We’re adding another guy who is coming off the bench now with McCaw, Nick, Omri — that’s size, shooting, length, switchability. I think our team got better.
Omri at the minimum. Is that one you are fist-pumping about?
Yeah. He’s a proven player. He’s a really good player. So I didn’t know we’d be able to get him for that, but timing is everything in this league. Like JaVale (McGee) last year. Sometimes it’s just the right time for the player and the team. I’m hoping that it’s the same case with Omri. I love the way he plays. He’s a proven 3-point shooter with deep range, great cutter, moves without the ball, going to fit right in with our offense.
How much do you credit Joe Lacob for paying for all of this?
It’s unbelieveable. The bill that we’re going to have to pay is off the charts. So I give Joe and Peter (Guber) a ton of credit. They stepped up to the plate just like they said they would. We’re lucky. We have an organization that backs up the talk about being all about winning.
How about these younger guys out here, starting with Patrick McCaw. Looked like he was going to have to step into a bigger role. Now you’re bringing a lot of your guys back, so he’ll still have to compete for minutes. But do you expect a jump from Year 1 to 2?
Yeah. Oh yeah. You can see the confidence he’s playing with right now in summer league. I think the biggest jump you ever make in your career is between Year 1 and 2. Year 1 you realize you can play in this league. Now he’s realizing he can be really good in this league. That’s how he’s playing. Given the way we’re going to approach next year, we’re going to play 100-plus games again, trying to get back to the Finals for a fourth year in a row. So we have to pace ourselves, find the right balance between improving, winning games and resting. I feel like we have enough depth where the way the NBA has promised to fix some of the scheduling, we’re going to probably rest one or two guys in any given game. No more than two in one game. We’re not going to do the four or five unless the schedule is a disaster again. But I think we can sit Andre and Shaun strategically and be comfortable with it because of Patrick and Nick and Omri. I’m pretty comfortable.
How about your newest rookie Jordan Bell?
I didn’t think it would be possible that he’d still be there. He’s a good passer, active body, has a long way to go like every rookie that comes in the league. But he’s very athletic, stays in front of people like he just did right there (points at Bell as he properly shuts down a drive with a quick lateral slide). And he’s got a good mentor in Draymond.
The last roster spot that’s still sitting out there. There’s some talk about maybe bringing JaVale back. Do you need another center? You ended last year with six centers, only have five right now.
I would love to have JaVale back. We all want him back. But we’ll see how all that goes. He’s a free agent, he’s exploring his options. He was great for us last year, such a good teammate, high energy. But we’ll see.