With the gravitational pull of president Phil Jackson, it was assumed that the Zen Master's former point guard, Steve Kerr, was going to be the next head coach of the New York Knicks.
Not so fast.
Kerr, the former general manager of the Phoenix Suns who had became highly sought-after in coaching circles despite having no experience in that capacity, reportedly agreed to a giant deal with the Golden State Warriors Tuesday. NBA.com's David Aldridge and Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski had the news:
Stunner: Steve Kerr spurns the Knicks, accepts Warriors' head coach job. Story coming on http://t.co/tv9kc59jsI.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) May 15, 2014
Steve Kerr has agreed to a 5 year, approximately $25 million deal with Golden State, source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 15, 2014
USA Today's Sam Amick added details regarding the structure of the hefty contract:
Asked person w/ knowledge if there were any options on Kerr's five-year, $25 mil deal with Warriors: "Straight five years."— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) May 15, 2014
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the new deal is how Kerr's new contract compares to his several during a 15-year career as a player, via ESPN's Tom Haberstroh:
Steve Kerr made $15.8 million as a player, just signed for $25 million as a coach.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 15, 2014
Kerr spurning the Knickerbockers comes as a bit of a surprise simply because of his history with Jackson. The former point guard won three NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, and the opportunity to work under the ultra-successful Jackson had to be alluring.
However, as many were quick to point out, a better roster and a closer proximity to home—his family lives in San Diego—were awaiting Kerr in Golden State.
Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling and Howard Beck summed up the consensus opinion—coaching better talent makes for an easier job:
Re: Steve Kerr. How can you pass up coaching Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson for that matter? Just a better team. Knicks are years away.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) May 15, 2014
No surprise that Kerr chose Warriors. Friends said all along that proximity to home/family would weigh heavily. Better team, too.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 15, 2014
In fact, as the Mercury News' Tim Kawakami added, Kerr has long wanted to work with Curry, who has transformed from March Madness hero to most dangerous sharpshooter in the NBA:
As Suns GM, Steve Kerr desperately wanted Steph Curry in the 2009 draft. Gets to coach him now.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) May 15, 2014
As CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello and SheridanHoops.com's Chris Sheridan argued, the presence of the often-criticized James Dolan also likely went into the decision:
Even as a Knicks fan, I would probably rather coach the Warriors. Younger, better team, and a less uh, micromanaging owner.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) May 15, 2014
Then, of course, there's the whole contract and job security thing. Kerr's college head coach, Lute Olsen, believes that was ultimately the deciding factor, via Adam Zagoria:
Lute Olson on Kerr: "I know he wanted to go w/ the Knicks.They must not have gotten the five-year deal worked out."— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 15, 2014
Lute Olson: ""And given the number of coaches the owner's gotten rid of in the last 7 years, I don't blame Steve if that's the decision."— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 15, 2014
Just a little bit north, we've seen what an upgrade at head coach can do for a team, as the addition of Doc Rivers has taken the Los Angeles Clippers from good to legitimate Western Conference contenders.
Kerr, who will get the most out of Golden State's burgeoning talent and has experience in the front office, has a chance to do just that with the Warriors.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob, via Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, couldn't help gushing over his newest hire:
"We love Kerr. Incredibly prepared. We got him because of our players. The Golden State Warriors' future is bright," Joe Lacob says in text.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) May 15, 2014
Lacob on Kerr: "Very bright. Very personable. Very, very prepared. I have always liked him... but he sold our group. Bob, Jerry, loved him"— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) May 15, 2014
As for the Knicks, Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch and ESPN's Chris Broussard offered up some potentially intriguing candidates:
So it looks like Phil Jackson will target John Paxson now that Steve Kerr is not available.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 15, 2014
Let's see where Phil turns now - D Fish?— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) May 15, 2014
With Jason Kidd last year, Kerr this year and Derek Fisher and John Stockton possibly following suit, it's clear the NBA is not only ushering in a new generation on the court, but on the bench, as well.
The Warriors will simply be hoping that "youth" on the sideline meshes with one of the most electrifying, up-and-coming rosters in the NBA.