Steve Kerr takes Warriors' job

Thursday, May 15, 2014
Steve Kerr has turned down Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks to accept a five-year, $25 million offer to become the Golden State Warriors' next coach, saying "it just felt like the right move on many levels."

"They have a good young team. The location is ideal," Kerr said in a phone interview with NBA.com on Wednesday night. "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."

Kerr had been in talks with the Knicks about becoming their next coach after Jackson took over as team president in March.

Sources with knowledge of the negotiations told ESPN.com that the Knicks -- preferring to sign Kerr to a four-year deal rather than the five-year pact he received from Golden State -- had offered him about $20 million with incentives.

Multiple sources also said Kerr preferred the Warriors' job to the Knicks' job all along, but it was a difficult decision because of his relationship with Jackson.

"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, according to NBA.com. "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."

Kerr won three titles playing for Jackson in Chicago.

"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 won another two NBA championships under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio but has never been a head coach. Kerr spent three seasons as general manager of the Phoenix Suns before stepping down in June 2010.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob, speaking to USA Today, said the team "went out and we wanted to find the best guy to lead this team to the next level."

"Yes, it's true, (Kerr) has not coached before," Lacob said, according to USA Today. "But this is what management is all about. You have to be able to pick people, and he is incredibly prepared. ... every detail you can imagine. He knew our roster in and out. He had assistant coaches he wanted to go after. It was like a tour de force.

"Look, at the end of the day I know he knows a lot about basketball," Lacob added. "We're taking a little bit of a risk on his coaching ability, but we did that with Mark and it worked. So it's just about finding the right fit for the organization and a guy who has extremely high potential, is a hard worker and is very prepared. That's what we have got."

Sources said Kerr was under the impression that the Warriors preferred Stan Van Gundy to him, but when the Detroit Pistons swooped in to land Van Gundy, Kerr became the Warriors' top choice -- and he theirs.

A league source familiar with the team's thinking told ESPN New York that Golden State emphasized to Kerr that established coaches such as Larry Brown and Mike D'Antoni didn't fare well under the Knicks and owner James Dolan. One source familiar with the process said this also factored into Kerr's decision.

Kerr was represented in negotiations by Priority Sports' Mike Tannenbaum, former general manager of the New York Jets.

"It just came down to a personal decision," said Priority CEO Mark Bartelstein, who served as Kerr's agent  throughout his playing career. "These are two great jobs. There were no problems with the Knicks. This was not about what the Knicks did or didn't do. This was about Steve, in his heart, deciding that Golden State was a better fit right now for him and his family. Phil was great. First class in every way."

"It was a long process, and Steve went through a lot of different feelings," Tannenbaum said. "And there wasn't any magical moment where he made the decision. The more he thought about it, the more he just felt that everything about Golden State felt right to him."

The Warriors met Tuesday with Kerr before his TNT broadcast in Oklahoma City and appeared to remain in the running for him alongside the Knicks, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Warriors, after initially believing they had no shot at Kerr because he was "too deep" into his negotiations with the Knicks, started pressing him as hard as they could to try to change his mind after Golden State's other top coaching target -- Van Gundy -- struck a deal with the Pistons.

The Knicks, sources said, had been strong favorites to land Kerr, largely because of his longstanding relationship with Jackson.

Golden State, though, offered a roster headlined by star guard Stephen Curry and the ability for Kerr to take over a 51-win team in his home state. Kerr is a Southern California native and has lived in San Diego for years.

Kerr replaces Mark Jackson, who was fired after the Warriors' first-round loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games in the wake of mounting tension between him and the front office.

The Knicks must now regroup after centering their initial search for Mike Woodson's replacement on Kerr. But sources with knowledge of the situation said that Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher and Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis, both of whom are close to Phil Jackson, are likely to be considered.

Last week in Los Angeles, Fisher was asked about coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I would tell people to allow me to finish my career as a player before they give me another job after that," Fisher said, while calling it "humbling."

"Just to think about people thinking of me in that manner -- especially while I'm still playing," Fisher said. "I promise you this is the last thing on my mind at this point. I really haven't thought about it that much. Hopefully there's a lot of basketball left to be played this season for sure. Once that's done we'll go from there."

Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein, ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley, ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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