Kerr settles in for Warriors' coaching debut

Kerr settles in for Warriors' coaching debut
July 11, 2014, 8:00 am
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I've got a ton of experience in this league, but in different capacities – player, general manager, broadcaster – and the game's a little different at each stop.
Steve Kerr

LAS VEGAS – Steve Kerr will walk into Thomas & Mack Center on Friday and, for the first time in his 48 years, stand on the sideline and coach a group of men through a basketball game.

It's Summer League hoops, so no big deal.

It's Kerr's debut as Warriors coach, his first public opportunity to show why he was signed in May to a five-year contract with about $22 million – more than he made during his 15-year NBA playing career. He's replacing a man, former coach Mark Jackson, who left a massive footprint.

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So this moment will be, for Kerr, kind of a big deal.

Yet as he prepares his team for its Summer League opener against the Hornets, nee Bobcats, Kerr shows no sign of being fidgety or apprehensive.

"I feel very confident in my ability to do this job,'' Kerr said after practice Thursday. "At the same time, I'm well aware of how much work I have to do and what I have ahead of me.''

Kerr quickly cited the veteran coaches on his coaching staff. There's Alvin Gentry, 59, who has been a head coach or assistant for a quarter century. And there is Ron Adams, 66, who has spent 40 years coaching at the college and NBA levels.

Then, too, Kerr has had four practices or scrimmages with his expanded Summer League roster. It may not sound like much, but it's enough to help calm any nerves.

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"It's great, and it's 100 percent necessary for me as a new coach,'' Kerr said. "I've got a ton of experience in this league, but in different capacities – player, general manager, broadcaster – and the game's a little different at each stop, depending on what you're looking at, what you're trying to accomplish. So for me, it's been great to work with our staff and for everybody to bond and get to know each other and develop roles. And, also, see the game from the sidelines.''

The Warriors expect to have a couple of familiar players – Nemanja Nedovic and Ognjen Kuzmic, both rookies last season – joining a group of young men looking to impress Kerr or his staff or somebody, anybody, who can open an NBA door.

"These guys are all trying to get jobs, whether in the NBA or the D-League or overseas,'' the coach said. "So a huge part of Summer League is player development, giving them exposure, trying to help their careers along and giving them a chance to show people they can play.''

So a lot of the players are strangers to each other. The coach is a stranger to all of them, as well as the job in general.

That's why Kerr is here, settling into a role that often goes to an underling. Darren Erman, a former assistant under Jackson, was Summer League coach in 2013. Pete Myers, another assistant under Jackson, handled the task in 2012.

Both Erman and Myers went undefeated.

Kerr seems less concerned with winning games than with winning the trust and dedication of his team. This is, after all, a time to adapt.

"I want to make this adjustment as comfortable as possible for our team, so that we can hit the ground running in October,'' he said. "That's why it's great for me to be here at Summer League, to get my feet wet.''