Choosing the Warriors over the Knicks was, for Steve Kerr, a career decision with no easy option.
Either way, he was going to hurt somebody that did not deserve to get hurt.
He chose the Warriors for three basic reasons. They have the more attractive roster, he and his family can remain on the West Coast and he has faith in his relationships with those atop the team's organizational chart.
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Kerr decided to take the job a few hours after serving as a TNT analyst for Game 5 of the Clippers-Thunder playoff series on Tuesday night. Once word was out Wednesday night, Kerr spoke with TNT colleague David Aldridge.
"It just felt like the right move on many levels," Kerr told Aldridge. "They have a good young team. The location is ideal. My daughter goes to Cal and plays volleyball. My oldest son is in college in San Diego and our youngest is a junior in high school. It's just a short flight for them."
That Kerr's daughter, Madeleine, attends Cal always was something the Warriors hoped would work in their favor.
Yet the process was fraught with frustration on the part of the Warriors. From the minute he fired Mark Jackson on May 6, if not before, CEO Joe Lacob knew he wanted to Kerr as his coach. Kerr, however, was well into negotiations with the Knicks, who offered the advantage of Phil Jackson as team president.
When Jackson was coaching the Bulls during their impressive run, Kerr was one of his point guards. Kerr has five championship rings from his playing career, and three of them were earned with Jackson in Chicago.
The two maintained relationship over the years. When Jackson was hired in March to assume control of the basketball operation in New York, Kerr said he expected to be contacted. He was. There were negotiations. The two sides crept closer. But, ultimately, it stalled.
And the Warriors seized the moment. Lacob and several other team executives, including general manager Bob Myers, flew to Oklahoma City on Monday night – after failing to reach an agreement with Stan Van Gundy – to make one final sales pitch to Kerr.
He bought it, agreeing to a five-year deal (no option) worth a reported $25 million.
"Ultimately, it was agonizing to say no to Phil because of what I think of him and what he's done for my career," Kerr said. "When Phil Jackson asks you to coach the Knicks, how do you say no? I think they're going to turn it around, but going to be a big undertaking and it's going to take time. The idea of doing that 3,000 miles from home, it just didn't feel right."
When Kerr told Jackson that he was not displeased with the offer from the Knicks but was serious about his interest in the Warriors, Jackson seemed to understand.
"I told Phil, 'I think I have to pursue this other opportunity,' '' Kerr said. "He gave me his blessing. He said go look at it, and do what was in my heart."
Kerr, 48, was intrigued by the Warriors roster; as a general manager in Phoenix in 2009, he attempted a draft-night trade that would have allowed him to select Stephen Curry for the Suns.
Kerr said he would implement a motion offense, emphasizing spacing and ball movement.
He also conceded he had to get beyond his concerns about the difficulties presented in the Western Conference. The Warriors have a more treacherous route to success than do the Knicks in the inferior Eastern Conference.
"There's no question that was one of the attraction points on New York, that's an easier path," Kerr said. "The biggest thing for me is, I want to be happy every day. I want to be in partnership with the people on the team. And the one thing that a lot of the coaches that I talked to said was, you have to have talent. And Golden State has talent."