The Golden State Warriors have been without Steve Kerr since training camp, as the head coach recovers from a spinal fluid leak. The team has not given a timetable for his return, but one Warriors player said that he might not be back until after February’s All-Star festivities. “We had a chance to catch up with coach Kerr before the game and he still seemed very fatigued, told us he’s dealing with headaches, is still heavily medicated,” ESPN’s J.A. Adande reported during the Warriors’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. “Yet [he] did get a chance to talk to the team after its 50-point victory over the Memphis Grizzlies the other day. He joked with them that, ‘It’s obvious you guys need me.’ Now, they took that as a good sign his sense of humor was back. But he’s still far away. In fact, one player told me they wouldn’t be surprised if it takes him until after the All-Star break to return. And they’re prepared to go that long without him.”
"I know I'm on the right track, the right path," Kerr said. "I'm very confident that I will be back this season and I can't wait; it's killing me. It is killing me not to be out there tonight."
He said there’s also “a decent chance” he’ll go with the team to Houston and New Orleans later this week… and that–as he gradually feels better and starts to exercise–he’s sure he’ll be back coaching at some point this season.
Kerr had surgery to repair a ruptured disk in his back July 28, but during the procedure, the dura surrounding the spinal cord was nicked and caused spinal-fluid leakage. On Sept. 4, Kerr had a second operation to patch the leak, but five weeks later, he’s still having adverse symptoms while taking a leave of absence from the team. “The body forms spinal fluid constantly,” said Dr. Neel Anand, the director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles. “As long as it doesn’t continue to leak, he’ll make a full recovery and be back to normal.”
January 25, 2021 | 11:22 am EST Update
Ira Winderman: NBA source tells the Sun Sentinel that the expectation is Jimmy Butler will be cleared from pandemic protocol today. Then it will come down to a matter of conditioning. Heat play at Brooklyn tonight, then next play Wednesday at home against Denver.
Justin Kubatko: Damian Lillard’s free throws in his last seven games: 🎯 6-6 🎯 4-4 🎯 12-12 🎯 6-6 🎯 12-12 🎯 12-12 🎯 11-11 Overall, he went 63-63 from the FT line, the most makes without a miss over a seven-game span in NBA history. The previous mark of 60 was held by Dirk Nowitzki (2010). pic.twitter.com/F3U0PAoAct
Grant’s managed to make the transition to first option without a corresponding spike in turnover rate remarkably well. Grant’s usage rate of 26.7 percent is up nearly 50 percent over last year’s 18 percent but his turnover rate has actually declined, coming in at a remarkably low 6.8 percent. Grant’s had only one game all season with more than three turnovers and none with more than four. “The usage factor that he has and the amount of energy it takes to be that guy,” Casey said of the challenge Grant faces. “He’s finding that out. This is a process for him also to be that guy. He’s doing an excellent job of it.”
It remains to be seen how Thibodeau will use Ntilikina after being eased back in, but first the French combo guard had to worry about getting his conditioning back. “There was a progression to his comeback,” Thibodeau said. “He’s gotten some contact on this trip. We’ve had an opportunity to get some practices in. Even in situations in which we can get work in three-on-three with some of the guys that haven’t played big minutes, we try to take advantage of that as well. So he has gotten some contact, but conditioning-wise, probably not quite ready yet.”
Still, it was a bit jarring in this specific instance to hear what he had to say about the Jazz, if only because it’s been probably since the last century that we’ve heard Utah and the proceeding words linked in the same sentence. “Utah is a veteran team,” Kerr said. “They are trying to win a championship right now, and I think they are capable of doing so. You know, they are where we were three or four years ago.”
Panini America, the official trading card partner of the NBA and NBPA announced an extension of its partnership with Morant. Panini is the exclusive home for the Morant’s autographed trading cards and memorabilia. “We started our relationship with Ja (Morant) before the draft last year and we made him one of our athletes going into his rookie season,” said Jason Howarth, Vice President of Marketing at Panini America. “Coming out of his rookie season, he just continued to thrive, we knew that he was the guy that we wanted to put a foothold around, and we decided we wanted to make him a long term exclusive athlete of Panini for trading cards and memorabilia.”