Monte Poole

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr out indefinitely with chronic pain

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr out indefinitely with chronic pain

PORTLAND -- Still suffering with chronic pain after multiple back surgeries nearly two years ago, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will step away from his duties for an indefinite period.

Kerr made the announcement Sunday afternoon, one day after he was unable to attend Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Trail Blazers at Moda Center. He conceded the possibility he could miss the rest of the postseason.

“This past week for whatever reason, things got worse,” Kerr said from the team hotel. “My symptoms got worse. And I was not able to coach. The last few days have been difficult.

“With things getting worse, I just made the decision I couldn’t coach. As of now, I’m consulting with my doctors. I’m hoping for some improvement. If I can get some improvement, I’ll get back on the sidelines. But I’m not going to do that unless I know I can help the team.”

Assistant coach Mike Brown, a three-time NBA head coach who guided the Warriors to a 119-113 comeback win in Game 3, will serve as acting head coach during Kerr’s absence and will be on the sideline for Game 4 Monday night.

No matter what happens, Kerr said, he plans to assist in game preparation and remain involved with players and staff for the duration of the postseason.

“At this point in the season, we all have a feel for our team,” Kerr said. “Early in the season, it probably wouldn’t have been that way. It’s great that we’ve had the year together. It’s great that Mike has coached in this league 10 years and has coached in The Finals. He knows what he’s doing. The team is in great hands regardless.”

While spending Game 3 at the team hotel Saturday watching the game with his son, Nick, Kerr pointed out that some of the substitutions he thought should be made were, in fact, made seconds after crossing his mind.

Kerr said he did feel somewhat better Sunday than he did on Friday and Saturday.

Kerr has been coping with severe side effects since the summer of 2015. Though he has said his back was improved by the surgeries, a spinal leak has resulted in frequent headaches and neck pain.

Two days into training camp in September, barely a month after his second surgery in seven weeks, he took an indefinite leave of absence, returning Jan. 22, 2016 and coaching the final 39 regular-season games as well as the postseason.

But after laboring through 2016 training camp and the regular season -- often wearing a pain patch on the back of his neck -- the chronic anguish never went away, being by turns uncomfortable and excruciating. Kerr made it through only the first two games of the postseason.

He clearly was in discomfort during Game 2 Wednesday night at Oracle Arena and felt no better after an off-day Thursday. During his post-practice news conference Friday, before the team flight from Oakland to Portland, Kerr constantly shifted his body and grabbed his head.

Kerr was unable join the team for shootaround Saturday morning, and four hours later the Warriors announced Kerr would not attend Game 3.

“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, whatever it is, I can sort of make a definitive realization or deduction, or just feel it, that I’m going to do this or not.”

Kerr has tried various pain-killing drugs, as well as medicinal marijuana, in hopes of alleviating his chronic pain. Nothing so far has provided consistent relief, and some medications that have helped were offset by nausea and other side effects.

Kerr is in the third year of a five-year contract signed in May 2014. His 207-39 regular-season record is the best in NBA history by any coach over a three-year span.

Implemented by Kerr, 'Warrior Way' fuels Game 3 win in Portland

Implemented by Kerr, 'Warrior Way' fuels Game 3 win in Portland

PORTLAND -- Mike Brown slid over one chair, oversaw a rousing Warriors comeback victory and showered his compromised roster with lavish praise.

They did it, he said, pointing out the work of everybody from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, to Pat McCaw and JaVale McGee in a 119-113 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Green begged to differ. He turned the finger of commendation upon Brown, the assistant coach who adroitly stepped into the shoes of ailing head coach Steve Kerr for a win that gave the Warriors a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven first-round series.

“He was the MVP tonight,” Green said of Brown.

So, of course, Curry, who scored a game-high 34 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter to put away the Blazers, gave the game ball to Kerr.

“We’ve got his back,” Curry said. “We’ve had certain situations all year, in previous years, where players are down and you’ve got the ‘next man up’ philosophy. Same with Coach Kerr. He’s done a great job of implementing a philosophy and a strategy and an identity of how we play Warrior basketball, and even in his absence we want to kind of live up to that.”

This is the Warrior Way, every man contributing, every man mattering, and no individual hogging the accolades.

Truth be told, there were heroes aplenty in a game the Warriors yanked straight from the clutches of the loss column.

There was McGee coming off the bench providing a jolt of electricity when his teammates seemed badly in need of recharging.

There was Curry, looking lost on offense for most of the night, before zeroing in when it was needed most.

There was McCaw, the rookie second-round draft pick who again defied his youth, tap-dancing all over the stat sheet.

There was Green, blocking six shots. There was Thompson, drilling four 3-pointers in the third quarter. There was Andre Iguodala, igniting the defense during the pivotal third-quarter stretch when the Warriors wiped out a 16-point lead.

Miss anyone?

On, yes, there was at least one more contributor.

General manager Bob Myers also nudged his way into the picture. After watching Portland shoot 53.3 percent in the first half, Myers jokingly threatened to replace Brown with veteran assistant Ron Adams for the second half.

Brown and the Warriors responded by holding the Trail Blazers to 33.3-percent shooting in the second half.

No single player or coach was responsible, just as they would have it.

 

Sources: In agony, Kerr had difficult time keeping up with Warriors' Game 3 win

Sources: In agony, Kerr had difficult time keeping up with Warriors' Game 3 win

PORTLAND -- Steve Kerr was in such agony Saturday that he found little comfort even while watching from the team hotel as his Warriors pulled out a playoff victory over Trail Blazers, multiple sources told NBCSportsBayArea.com.

The pain is so intense that Kerr even had difficulty keeping up with the game. Moreover, it may be a while before he’s able to return to full-time coaching duties.

Assistant Mike Brown served as acting head coach in a 119-113 win over Portland in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.

“He’s obviously going through a lot physically,” Stephen Curry said of Kerr after the game, “and that’s first and foremost for him to take care of himself, make sure he’s on the road to recovery and feeling like himself.”

Kerr was in obvious discomfort Friday, when he met with the media for his post-practice news conference. Though he made the flight to Oregon with the team Friday afternoon, he was not able to attend shootaround Saturday morning. It was the second time this season that Kerr missed a shootaround, the first coming March 2 in Chicago.

By Saturday afternoon, the Warriors were announcing he would not coach Game 3.

It was not a great surprise to those who work closely with Kerr.

“He’s suffering,” said one person close to Kerr.

“He hadn’t been feeling well for a couple days, so I knew it would be a possibility,” Brown said before the game.

Kerr continues to cope with debilitating side effects from multiple back surgeries in the summer of 2015. He took a leave of absence last season, missing nearly all of training camp and the first 43 games of the regular season before returning.

Both the symptoms have persisted. Kerr still cannot do many of the things he loves, he acknowledged to NBCSportsBayArea.com, such as play golf. Though his back is somewhat improved, he still experiences severe headaches and neck pain.

The worst part about the discomfort is its consistency. It’s nagging at him every day and night, sometimes more severe than others.

It has gotten worse in recent days, though. It is conceivable, even likely, according to those close to Kerr, that he will miss Game 4 Monday night.