Warriors’ Steve Kerr jokes to Cavaliers’ David Blatt: ‘He just became a much better coach’

LAS VEGAS — Warriors coach Steve Kerr wanted a staff with experience, and he looked toward David Blatt, Alvin Gentry and Ron Adams.

Kerr was happy to get two out of the three, and the one that got away was Blatt, a decorated coach in Europe who got the Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coaching job. Now, Blatt will be coaching LeBron James.

“It was pretty shocking that three weeks later, he’s coaching LeBron James,” Kerr said Sunday. “I think he’s a great coach, and he’ll do very well. And as I told him, he just became a much better coach two days ago.”

Kerr said after he got the Warriors job, his agent, Mike Tannenbaum called him to ask if he had interest in a fellow client in Blatt.

Kerr had admired Blatt from afar.

“He’s impressive,” Kerr said. “I’ve read all about it. I’ve seen him, watching European games and stuff. He had great reputation.”

Kerr and Blatt ended up meeting for breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey during a layover before Blatt’s flight from Los Angeles International Airport back to Israel.

Blatt ended up the Cavaliers’ choice over Gentry and Tyronn Lue, who joined Cleveland as the associate head coach.

The Warriors got Gentry, who laughed when asked about James.

“That would have very interesting,” Gentry said.

“I like it a lot as long as he’s in the East. As long as he stays East, he can bounce to any team he wants to. Just don’t come out West, OK?”


Warriors’ Steve Kerr on still owning small part of Phoenix Suns: ‘I’m not Steve Ballmer’

LAS VEGAS – The Warriors play against Phoenix today at the NBA Summer League, and in an unusual circumstance, coach Steve Kerr currently owns a small part of the Suns.

“I do, which is kind of crazy, but it’s in the process,” Kerr said of ultimately having to sell his stake of the Suns.

Kerr helped Phoenix owner Robert Sarver purchase the team and eventually became the team’s general manager.

Kerr must divest from the Suns and described his ownership stake as “very, very small.”

“I’m not Steve Ballmer,” Kerr said of the former Microsoft CEO who in May agreed to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. “I’m Steve Kerr.”


Warriors’ Steve Kerr on how David Lee, Klay Thompson are handling trade speculation: ‘They both get it’

LAS VEGAS – Warriors coach Steve Kerr has not met face-to-face with David Lee yet after several meetings have been postponed, including the forward’s trip to Las Vegas.

But the two have spoken several times and kept in touch via text message, with Kerr early on having talked to both Lee and Klay Thompson about their names surfacing in trade talks and rumors regarding Kevin Love.

“They both get it,” Kerr said. “I told them, ‘I know you get it. It doesn’t make it any easier.’

“But this is why you really get paid. I mean, you get paid made all this money, is it really for coming into a gym for two hours a day and shooting jump shots? We’ve been doing that for free our whole life, you know? You get paid because you can get traded, and you have to uproot your family. You can get hurt, you can get booed, and people on the message board are crushing you. That’s where you actually earn your money in this league, where it actually feels like work.”

Lee, who has averaged a double-double in four seasons with the Warriors, would likely need to be included in a major trade due to his high salary. But if the Warriors don’t make a trade, Kerr likes Lee for what he has planned on offense.

“I’m a big fan,” Kerr said. “Especially the way we’re going to play – a lot of cutting, slashing – and with Steph (Curry) and Klay coming off curls and stuff, I love the little slips, and David’s as good as anybody at slashing and finishing when there’s ball movement. So he’s a big part of this.”


Warriors’ Steve Kerr thinks David Lee will start, envisions Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes as stretch forwards

LAS VEGAS — Warriors coach Steve Kerr has made it known that he’d like a big man to stretch the floor with his ability to shoot.

If the Warriors aren’t able to sign one or trade for Kevin Love, Kerr is looking at Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes to complement David Lee.

Kerr said Barnes was a standout in summer league practices and said he was a candidate to be a starter. He noted Green has worked on his jump shot. Last season, Barnes’ 3-point shooting dipped to 34.7 percent while Green’s improved to 33.3 percent.

“That’s where I think Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes can make a big difference if we go small,” Kerr told KNBR on Friday. “Their ability to shoot threes is big. You saw Draymond make five threes in Game 7 (of the playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers), which is one of the reasons why the Warriors almost won that game. We need some shooting out of that position.

“I love David Lee, and I think he’s going to be our starter, and he’s going to score a lot and be our slasher and our interior scorer. But we need to complement that with some perimeter shooting from that spot, too.”


Warriors’ Andre Iguodala recovering from injection for knee tendinitis, to miss USA national team training

LAS VEGAS – Andre Iguodala will not participate in USA Basketball national team training for the FIBA World Cup while recovering from a procedure on his right knee, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday.

A 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Iguodala earlier in the offseason received an injection for knee tendinitis that caused him to miss six games last season. The team had determined no surgery would be needed and that the injection and rest would help the 30-year-old recover.

Kerr said after speaking with Iguodala on Thursday the player was ahead of schedule and feeling good even though he isn’t yet able to get on the court.

“He should be on the floor in our practice facility before too long,” Kerr said. “I can’t put a date on it, but the medical staff has told me no problems in terms of being ready for (Warriors training) camp.”

Iguodala played through knee tendinitis in the playoffs after missing 18 games during the regular season due to injuries.

In his first year of a four-year, $48 million contract, Iguodala earned a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive first team while averaging 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

Warriors players Stephen Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson remain on the USA national team roster that begins training later this month.


Warriors’ ‘valuable’ $9.8 million traded player exception expires without a trade

LAS VEGAS – The Warriors were unable complete a trade by Thursday night’s deadline to utilize their $9.8 million traded player exception.

The traded player exception, which would have allowed the over-the-cap Warriors to take on a player’s contract without giving one back, was one of the tools that the Warriors had to make an impact on their roster in absence of a draft pick and a blockbuster trade.

“I do think the trade exception in itself gives us a pretty decent vehicle,” general manager Bob Myers said last month after the draft. “It’s almost like having 9.8 million in (cap) space, which we don’t have. That’s a valuable thing to have not just necessarily to acquire players but to field offers from teams that are looking to maybe move off contracts that might help us and aren’t helping them.”

But with free agents like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony still unsigned and giving several teams pause in making major moves, no trade or sign-and-trade materialized for the Warriors, who did not necessarily have to use the traded player exception.

The expiration of the trade exception doesn’t take the Warriors out of the Kevin Love sweepstakes. The Warriors under co-owner Joe Lacob have been known to be aggressive even though rumblings of a trade for Love have died down while Minnesota digs in its heels and holds out for a better deal.

Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders covets Klay Thompson in a deal for Love and has expressed his willingness to hold onto his star right on into the season when he believes a good deal could still come before the trade deadline.

Meanwhile, the Warriors officially signed guard Shaun Livingston on Friday to use their mid-level exception and now in order to stay under the luxury tax are expected to pursue another shooter.


Warriors’ Steve Kerr working to build relationships with players: ‘It’s about connecting with people’

LAS VEGAS — Steve Kerr smiled as he sidestepped a question about whether or not he expected the Warriors to soon complete a trade.

Kerr said the Thursday evening deadline for the Warriors to use their $9.8 million traded player exception was something to worry about for general manager Bob Myers.

“I’m coaching here, and if Bob calls me and tells me we’re doing something, great,” Kerr said Wednesday at Sierra Vista High School, where the Warriors’ summer league team held its second day of practices.

Kerr didn’t necessarily have to coach the summer squad after being hired in May to replace Mark Jackson, but decided to wear a whistle around his neck and go to work with the team’s first game coming Friday against Charlotte.

Warriors big men Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli after practice praised the former TNT broadcaster’s communication skills, which were also put to the test in recent weeks as the rookie coach went out of his way to meet in person with players.

Kerr was on a house-hunting trip when he had lunch in Berkeley with Stephen Curry, who had been out with his wife. Since then, the coach and star guard have played more than one round of golf together.

To meet with Andrew Bogut, Kerr and his wife, Margot, made the long flight to the center’s native Australia. Kerr said Margot connected with Bogut’s girlfriend. At one point over lunch, Kerr pulled out a tablet and showed Bogut clips on how the big man might be used in a new system that emphasizes ball movement and includes triangle concepts.

“To me, that’s my job,” Kerr said. “Coaching is about relationships. It’s about connecting with people. It’s not about me sitting in the facility drawing up plays. It’s about getting to know these guys.

“I want to meet the families and get to know everybody. It’s all part of it. The stronger all these bonds are, the better job I can do, and the more I’ll understand them and vice versa.”

Barnes, who along with his agent had met with Kerr in Miami, said of his new coach on the practice court: “He knows how to get his point across.”

Kerr prepared for that as well. After getting the job, he reached out to Barnes’ college coach, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, who was a spectator at practice Wednesday. Kerr said in fact he had spoken with many of his players’ former coaches and teammates while trying to figure out what made his guys tick and how to reach them.

Kerr’s message summer league team was a simple one.

“He told us he was going to do his best, and we should do ours pretty much,” Ezeli said. “Everybody here has been very receptive of him.”