Steve Kerr to test readiness for return with increased workload

ByMarc Stein ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 16, 2015

After missing his team's first 25 games of the season, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr plans to increase his workload during their upcoming five-game homestand in hopes of proving he can handle the rigors of an eventual return to the bench this season.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers, while stressing that there remains no timetable for a return to game coaching for Kerr in the wake of complications stemming from two offseason back surgeries, told ESPN on Tuesday that Kerr plans to be more vocal and active on the practice floor over the next two weeks to "test" his readiness for a full-fledged return to the job.

In an interview earlier Tuesday with the Bay Area News Group, Kerr expressed optimism that he would be able to come back to the job at some point during the regular season, saying he has never believed that he'd be forced to sit out the entire season because of persistent headaches and other symptoms that have plagued him since the first surgery caused a leak of spinal fluid.

"I don't think that way at all," Kerr told the Bay Area News Group. "I think I'll be back. I don't know exactly when, but I think I will be back coaching again this season."

Kerr has been a regular presence at Warriors home games throughout Golden State's historic 24-1 start, as well as at occasional practices and shootarounds. But he has watched games from the privacy of his office when he does attend them and traveled to only one regular-season game, in Los Angeles in November.

Kerr endured his first extended stretch away from the team when the Warriors went 6-1 on a seven-game, 13-day trip that ended Saturday with a loss toMilwaukee.

"He's acting more like himself and joking more like himself," interim head coach Luke Walton told reporters Tuesday. "... It's nice to see more of his old self."

Warriors forward Draymond Green told reporters after Tuesday's practice that Kerr looked more like his usual self than he had at previous practices, backing up recent whispers around the team that Kerr's condition has improved somewhat.

"We've missed him," Green said. "That's our guy, and we want him to be around. We're just really looking forward to him getting back, whenever that is."

Kerr reiterated to the Bay Area News Group that "there is no timetable" but that he has to feel well enough "to go through the grind."

"I know what the grind's about. I know my body," Kerr said. "And this will be a good couple of weeks being at home, really being engaged at practice. I'll have a good feel over the next couple weeks.

"It was harder to tell when the team's on the road and you're not part of it. But when you're there every day now and practicing, you just get a better sense of the energy and dealing with the symptoms.

"Can you deal with the symptoms and still grind and have the necessary juice to do the job?" Kerr continued. "That's kind of the question."

Kerr confirmed he still has "symptoms that are bothersome, and that's the tricky part."

As for the work done by Walton, who took charge early in training camp but brought no substantive head-coaching experience to the job, Kerr said: "I knew he was the right guy in terms of his temperament and the respect that he has from the players. And I knew there would be a learning curve because there is for all of us.

"I came in last year, and 10 games in, I was way better than I was at the beginning. There's things that happen that you sort of figure out and then you get better. I figured the first part of the season would be tough. And I was hoping we would just win enough games where he could get his feet wet and not have to worry about anything.

"And lo and behold, he wins his first 24. So it's great. He's done a great job. He's a quick study and has such a great personality and feel."

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