As if injuries to Kevin Durant (calf strain) and Shaun Livingston (finger) weren’t enough, the Golden State Warriors aren’t sure whether they’ll have head coach Steve Kerr on the sidelines during the remainder of their playoff run.
Kerr missed the Warriors’ come-from-behind Game 3 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday and announced on Sunday that he wouldn’t be available for Game 4 on Monday and wasn’t sure when he would return to the sidelines, per ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes:
“This is not going to be a case where I’m coaching one night and not coaching the next,” Kerr said. “I’m not going to do that to our team, to our staff. We’re hoping that over the next week or two, or whatever it is, I can start to make a definitive realization, a reduction, or just feel it that I’m going to do this or not.”
“I can tell you, if you’re listening out there, if you have a back problem, stay away from surgery,” he said. “I can say that from the bottom of my heart. Rehab, rehab, rehab. Don’t let anybody get in there.”
Assistant coach Mike Brown will man the ship until Kerr’s return, and there’s a belief that the latter will still be able to help out during practices and film sessions and non-game stuff.
You feel for Kerr. You really do. But his health must come first and foremost, and he’s making an admirable sacrifice by refusing to keep the team in limbo. The temptation to return on a fly-by basis has to exist with his squad contending for yet another NBA title.
Losing Kerr, to that end, shouldn’t be damning. The Warriors played roughly half the season without him last year under similar circumstances, and they’re basically a well-oiled machine at this point. Remove Durant from the lineup, and they still don’t miss a beat.
The one thing you have to wonder is what impact, if any, this will have on Kerr’s future. Is this recurring pain serious enough to force him into retirement? If so, would that call be imminent? Or are we just getting ahead of ourselves?
Questions no doubt loom, but for now, the Warriors must focus on avenging their 2016 NBA Finals letdown. And Kerr, by clarifying his status, has ensured Golden State won’t have to deviate from that aim even during this time of flux.