Storyline: Steve Kerr Health

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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.”

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3 weeks ago via ESPN

The lingering issues from the back surgery he had in 2015 that kept him out for the first half of the season last year returned with a vengeance two games into these playoffs. Brown took over, the winning continued, while Kerr’s condition steadily improved. He still doesn’t sound great. He’s not at his best. But it’s the NBA Finals, the highest level of his hoop. “That’s why I got into coaching,” Kerr said. “My TV gig was pretty good, but I love the competition. This is such an epic matchup. These guys are so damn good. It was frustrating not to be there for Game 1. It’s frustrating not to be with the team the last 5-6 weeks on the sidelines. It’s just great to be back.”

Kerr didn’t want to become a gratuitous drama to these Warriors, or worse: Kerr didn’t want to be less than himself upon his return to these NBA Finals and somehow fail his franchise. The agony of a recurring spinal cord leak had sent him away, and a hurdle to his return had been the uncertainty of his staying power. Kerr couldn’t bear to come back – only to feel worse again, and leave these Warriors back with top assistant coach Mike Brown. In a quiet corridor of Oracle Arena on Sunday night, Myers nodded his head toward the Warriors locker room. “When Steve and I discussed it, I told him, ‘They support you trying, too,’ ” Myers told The Vertical. “Everybody supports you trying, too. We understand there’s a risk of trying, but it’s a risk worth taking, too. And if it hadn’t have gone well, we’d pick ourselves up and move on. “In my opinion, the bigger risk would’ve been him saying that he was ready, me believing that he was ready and then denying him. That would’ve been wrong all the way around.”

When everyone walked past Myers on Sunday night, congratulating him on the series, he swiftly told each of them: We were up 2-0 a year ago to them, and how did that turn out? Nevertheless, something did change on Sunday night for Golden State. Kerr was back, and they became whole again. “Listen, I am happy for him,” Myers said. “I’m happy for the outcome tonight. But I think mostly, I am happy that he got to do this. This is the pinnacle of a coach’s career. To have to sit on the sideline in these moments is excruciating.”

Q: Is him coaching tomorrow on the table? Bob Myers: Every game has been on the table, and I don’t know. But they’ve all been on the table. If we end up saying they’re off the table, you guys would know. If they were off the table right now, I’d sit here and tell you. It’s off the table, they’re all off the table. I don’t know the right way to do it, but the way we’re choosing to do it is, give him as much time as he needs. If he gets to that point in time, we’ll deal with it then.

He’s here, but he’s not here. And one of these days – maybe even on Sunday when the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers face off at Oracle Arena for Game 2 – that much will change. “Every (playoff) game has been on the table (for a possible Kerr return), and I don’t know (about Game 2),” Myers told a small group of reporters at the team’s media availability session. “But they’ve all been on the table. If we end up saying they’re off the table, you guys would know… The way we’re choosing to do it is give him as much time as he needs, and if it gets to that point in time, we’ll deal with it then.”

From Myers’ vantage point, the process is a whole lot easier because of the trust that everyone has in the 51-year-old Kerr. “When that day comes, and he says I’m ready, I think we’ll say, ‘Go coach,’” Myers said. “In his entire tenure here, he’s done what’s best for the team. This isn’t about him or his ego or anything like that. If anything, he’s shown a willingness to put the team first all of the time, and so whatever decision is made that will be the primary focus. What’s best for our team? I trust him on that side.

There was a report last night that Steve Kerr might be able to come back Sunday. How realistic is that? Bob Myers: I think we’re going to hear, ‘Steve might come back’ for the rest of the series. It’s an easy thing for someone to say. I could say that every day, and it could be true. But until it becomes something different than that, whether it means he’s not or he is, it’s going to keep being, “he might.” That’s what keeps the question being asked, which is fair. People want to know. I would say nothing has changed from last night to today, when you’re talking to me. Otherwise, we would have announced it. So it’s still status quo. We’re seeing how he feels and we’ll read that on a daily basis.

Can you describe what it is you’re evaluating as you decide whether you can coach now? Steve Kerr: It’s a pain thing and the repercussions of pain. I’ve been dealing with it for almost two years. I’ve been able to deal with it for the most part. It’s not a cognitive thing. It’s not even really an energy thing. It’s a pain thing. And the threshold is really important–what’s the threshold? For whatever reason, I don’t know why, but a month ago, man, it got worse.

Nick (Kerr’s son) said there’s been no direct communication with Mike during games… -KERR: No, none. -Q: Is that difficult to resist–you ever felt like telling Nick to go run out to the bench and tell Mike something? -KERR: No. No. There’s 10 or 15 decisions you make during the game, rotation decisions. Most of them are all pretty easy for us because we have generally been staying with what we do, maybe it’s an Ian or Patrick thing, or how long do we stay with JaVale. There’s not really huge rotation decision-making.*

“First of all, Steve may be back,” Brown told The Undefeated on Thursday night after the Cavaliers eliminated the Boston Celtics, 135-102, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals to advance to their third consecutive Finals against the Warriors. “We all want him to be back. So, I’m just taking this thing one day at a time. He’s been great. [General manager] Bob Myers has been great. The guys [players] have been great.

Kerr said: “We gotta find that balance between pace and discipline. Right? So we’re a little out of sorts because we’re trying to push it, trying to push it. And now we’re turning it over a little bit. I thought our defense was actually really good in the first quarter. But then we turned it over and they got some easy ones. And now we’re playing from behind. But in the second quarter we got out of sorts. So, get your poise back, wings run like crazy. Just settle in on like three stops in a row. Three stops in a row and the push will come from that. Settle in. We’ll be all right.”

Steve Kerr undergoes spinal cord leak procedure

Warriors owner Joe Lacob went on Bloomberg Radio on Friday and provided a minor update on Steve Kerr’s status. The ailing head coach, who was reportedly at the Duke Medical Center on Friday, underwent a spinal cord leak procedure, Lacob said. Kerr hasn’t coached in any of the Warriors last five playoff games. Assistant Mike Brown has stepped in in Kerr’s absence. Lacob said he’s hopeful Kerr can return “sooner rather than later.” Here are his full comments to Bloomberg.

“I said this to the team, we all have to kind of decide how process that part ourselves,” Myers said. “Because he still could–I don’t want to mislead people–but the possibility of him coming back still exists. “But that is different than relying on it. You can have that optimism, we all can have that hope. But reliance on it, I think, is something nobody’s doing at this point. Nor should they.” Hope for a change in Kerr’s health and a quick return. But brace for him to be out past June.

“Hopefully it was solved yesterday he had another procedure. It’s gone on for nearly two years. Very unusual I believe. I have a medical background so I know a little bit about this. I’ve never really heard of many people having this problem for this long. We feel really bad for him, the players, everybody understands it. We just have to be in his court here and support whatever it takes for him to get back and I’m sure they will eventually solve it. Hopefully sooner rather than later and hopefully we’ll have him coaching on the court sooner rather than later.”
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