Steve Kerr is in the practically unprecedented position of facing championship expectations as he enters his first-ever season as an NBA head coach, which is why it's a very good thing that the Golden State Warriors are outfitting him with practically unprecedented help.
The Dubs signed Alvin Gentry to a hefty deal on June 20, making him an associate head coach and doubling his salary to do it, per Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports. Then, they followed up by snatching Ron Adams away from the Boston Celtics on June 23, per Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe.
In supporting Kerr with this kind of experience, the Dubs have put together a title-worthy staff that should make their first-year head coach's transition as easy as possible.
Gentry comes to Golden State with an offensive intellect of considerable repute, which is to say he makes teams score points well.
His overall record as a head coach isn't spectacular (335-370), but his recent history of offensive success is the main reason the Warriors brought him on board. In three years as head coach of the Phoenix Suns from 2009-10 through 2011-12 (while Steve Kerr was the team's general manager, by the way), Gentry led the team to offensive ratings that checked in first, ninth and eighth in the NBA, respectively.
Clearly, he picked up a few things from his seasons working under Mike D'Antoni—things he later brought to Doc Rivers' staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. As a de facto offensive coordinator for the Clips last year, Gentry was once again behind an offense that ranked No. 1 in the NBA in efficiency.
Granted, Gentry's Phoenix teams had plenty of talent—led by a still-nearly-MVP-level Steve Nash. And it probably didn't hurt that the Clips had Chris Paul running the show in L.A.
But Gentry's principles of ball movement and precise spacing are exactly what Kerr wants, not to mention what the Warriors need. Perhaps just as critically, Gentry sat through a masters class in management and motivation last year as he watched Rivers guide his team through the Donald Sterling scandal.
Unsatisfied with adding perhaps the best offensive mind on the market, Golden State also brought Adams on to shore up the defense.
Universally revered, Adams comes to the Warriors with good vibes and a seemingly never-ending string of praise from those with whom he's worked.
Per Holmes, Avery Bradley had this to say about his former coach with the Celtics:
First off, I can say that every team that we’ve played—everybody loves him and respects him.
I mean, I have people that walk up to me and say, ‘That guy, right there—listen to him.' Everybody—everybody says that. It’s pretty cool. It says a lot about him.
In addition to being widely beloved and respected, Adams has an exceptional track record in player development and, of course, defensive strategy, per Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:
Adams has developed a fine reputation for developing young talent over the years. He was one of Scott Brooks' first assistants in Oklahoma City, and was an early influence on that young group's development.
It was Adams' work with Rose that led to last season's work with Rondo, who was recovering from the same surgery. Rondo improved as a shooter last season, with Adams' help.
If you want to keep things as simple as possible, consider this point on Adams:
Ron Adams was a defensive specialist under Thibs. Do Warriors fans need to hear anything else?— Trapped in Golden St (@TrappdnGoldenSt) June 23, 2014
Gentry and Adams are high-profile hires, and they signify more than just a desire to help Kerr adjust to his new job.
They represent a serious, committed, top-down push to get the Warriors to the next level.
Former head coach Mark Jackson endeared himself to his players by very publicly insisting he'd rely on talent, trust his guys and let the chips fall where they may. Talent, alone, wasn't enough. The 2013-14 Dubs lacked a clear offensive plan, suffered through defensive lapses and didn't always feature rotations that made sense.
Bringing on sharp minds with clear specialties shows Golden State will no longer rely on rolling the ball out and letting the players decide the outcome.
It's hard to know if the Warriors are more of a championship contender now than they were before, but it can't be disputed that they currently feature far more experience and tactical intelligence than they did last season.
In a league where every edge matters, that's a significant one.
There's a big-picture upshot at play here, too; Golden State may be on the forefront of a developing trend. For cash-rich teams frustrated by the limitations imposed by the salary cap, poaching top talent in the coaching ranks (and paying it handsomely) makes a ton of sense.
Think about it: Both Gentry and Adams were under contract with their former teams, but the Dubs swooped in, offered loads of money to Gentry and wooed Adams with a job on a winning team in his home state and, bam, two new assistants.
In a league where financial limitations level the spending power on big and small-market rosters, squads like the Warriors should be blowing cash and leveraging their advantages in the coaching department. Kerr, himself, is a prime example of that practice.
Golden State offered him an enormous contract and the allure of life in California. And it worked.
It's a relatively unregulated market in which the teams with the most money and most desirable locales have major advantages. If you're the Warriors, you'd be crazy not to exploit them.
Golden State doesn't care about being a trendsetter, though. All it wants to do is push this roster to its full—perhaps championship-level—potential.
Gentry and Adams make that lofty goal look a whole lot more reachable.