OAKLAND, Calif. — Bob Myers is encouraged by Golden State coach Steve Kerr’s offseason progress with debilitating, post-surgery back problems that last year sidelined him for the preseason and the first 43 games of the Warriors’ record-setting season.
That included an NBA-best 24-0 start.
Myers, who this week had the title of president of basketball operations added to his general manager position, said the reigning NBA Coach of the Year is ready to go and isn’t expecting Kerr to need a prolonged leave of absence — or any time away from the team at all for that matter. Kerr has dealt with excruciating headaches, nausea and regular pain following complications from two back surgeries last year. He often wore a neck patch during the postseason.
Kerr turns 51 next Tuesday on the first day of practice.
“I’m confident he’s in a much better place than this day last year because he couldn’t even coach in the preseason,” Myers said Thursday. “He came around when he could but that possibility’s been removed. And I see him every day and interact with him. He is in a better place and hopefully he is in a perfect place at some point. I think he’s working toward that but I have no doubt that he’s ready for camp and ready to go for the season. Last year, he wasn’t, he just wasn’t ready. It wasn’t really a possibility. This year, he’s absolutely doing it, so that’s a good improvement. He is trending in the right direction.”
The last thing Kerr wanted to talk about this week as he gears up for the start of training camp was himself. Bring on Kevin Durant to join two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Kerr knows how challenging it will be to mesh the egos and talent of a team with so many capable scorers, and he can’t wait to try to make it work.
Myers is realistic that this group will need time to come together, unlike the Warriors a year ago at this time that Kerr called basically a “finished product” and “we were the same team that won the title.”
“I do not see us being 24-0,” Myers said, “and it’s completely fine.”
Having Kerr healthy to lead the way will be important. Top assistant and now-Lakers head coach Luke Walton stepped in during Kerr’s absence last year to be interim coach, but Myers isn’t even thinking along those lines of Kerr needing a break this time around.
Both basketball men are eager to get going and see Durant in action with the Warriors.
“I just want to watch him play. I want to watch him play basketball and wear our uniform,” Myers said. “The hope is we’re going to look our worst on Tuesday. If you’re watching practice, I hope that it’s the worst it is, and if you come to a playoff game, you’re seeing an entirely different product. That’s our coaching staff, that’s Steve Kerr’s brilliance and the people he’s hired to really shape and mold this team.”
Golden State officials plan to invite Bay Area civic leaders to team headquarters for a panel discussion and educational opportunity for the players and organization when it comes to sensitive issues such as race relations and police shootings that Kerr denounced Wednesday . The idea is something Myers said was already in the works before a league-wide memo sent Wednesday night encouraging the idea.
“We have two choices: We can try or not try,” Myers said. “We’re going to try. There’s a level of understanding, there’s a level of responsibility among our players and maturity. A lot of them were already aware and engaged in this topic before this. … We’re just trying to do our little part.”