Steve Kerr gets head start to prep for first test with Warriors

Steve Kerr gets head start to prep for first test with Warriors
May 20, 2014, 7:30 am
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His job is simple: Make the start of his new gig seem like a seamless transition of power from the Mark Jackson era without the overarching glare of owner Joe Lacob.
Ray Ratto

Programming note: Hear from Golden State head coach Steve Kerr when the Warriors introduce him at 12 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and STREAMING LIVE online

Steve Kerr’s first true day on the job was Tuesday, a whirlwind tour of the media outlets he’d already spoken to a week ago and his second chance to make a first impression on something people had already made up their minds on back when the news actually broke.

If that makes sense, and so much of this still doesn’t.

Kerr, the new Golden State Warriors coach, was essentially assigned press conference duty Tuesday, and his job was simple: Make the start of his new gig seem like a seamless transition of power from the Mark Jackson era without the overarching glare of owner Joe Lacob.

That isn’t going to be so easy, of course. Lacob defines this franchise on every level save Stephen Curry in fallaway-three mode, and he is finding out yet again that ownership is an imperfect science. While general manager Bob Myers and consigliere Jerry West might have signed off on Jackson-for-Kerr, nobody believes this wasn’t Lacob’s call from the start, and the mistakes he made in vetting and communication and even parameter-defining were as much to blame for its ultimate failure as Jackson’s judgmental shortcomings, political naivete and intransigence.

They butted heads until they both got migraines, and nobody thought to stop it before it became too big for aspirin.

That is, of course, a story for another day -- and we mean the past and the future, since it has already been hashed, re-hashed and turned into a casserole. The Warriors are Joe Lacob, and Joe Lacob is the Warriors -- and until he learns the folly of that position and develops a less impulsive attitude toward his duties, it will not change.

But Kerr’s arrival Tuesday was meant to alter that perception by introducing a different element. How he does that will be revealed on April 15, when the final regular season record is revealed, and then in May, if the Warriors are still playing.

In other words, Tuesday was not a referendum on anything except Kerr’s ability to be glib in the face of questions that aren’t his to answer yet, like:

• Will the players respond to him?

• How will he change the offense that needs some tinkerage without compromising the defense, which does not?

• How different does he want the roster to be, and how much say-so will he have in that?

• How good will his staff be, and who will be doing what in the new regime?

• How can he define his strengths without clawing at Jackson’s weaknesses, and how can he honor Jackson’s strengths without making them seem like his own weaknesses?

• How does his work compare with Jackson’s, and how does he combat the notion that he got the job in part because he and Lacob have been friendly for a number of years?

These are all matters of perception, and as such can’t be answered by the person to whom they are being asked? How will Curry get along with Kerr? Don’t know. How many isolation plays does he like to run? Depends on the personnel and game situation. How much control does he have over the roster? Can’t say. Strengths and weaknesses? Those will be revealed over time. Comparisons? Well, Jackson won his opening press conference by a TKO in the fourth, so there’s that mountain to climb immediately.

The only thing Kerr can control right now, frankly, is his staff, which is necessarily different because every coach has his own preferences. Jackson’s last staff came under criticism both for its perceived shortcomings and occasional reductions in number, and Kerr will have to explain how much control he had in choosing his own aides while letting them speak for themselves, something Jackson never truly abided.

And he’ll have to do what he can with a five-day-old story made fresh only by the fact that he didn’t conduct it piecemeal over the phone.

The basketball must sell itself eventually, and Steve Kerr is in Day 1, which is to say Day 6, of that process. This is supposed to be Stephen Curry’s team, and Klay Thompson’s team, and Andrew Bogut’s team, and David Lee’s team unless he is traded, and Kevin Love’s team if he defies the odds and ends up in Oakland, but it is also Steve Kerr’s team, and he has been granted both an appealing group and a skeptical nation. This job, in sum, will not be nearly as easy as inheriting a 51-win team usually is.

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On the other hand, he got a five-day head start on the first day on the job, so there’s that.

 

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