X

Steve Kerr, Warriors Reportedly Finalizing Contract Extension

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2018

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 03: Head Coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors coaches against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on February 3, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Despite health issues being a lingering question over Steve Kerr's long-term future on the sidelines for the Golden State Warriors, his short-term future is assured.      

On Friday, ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Kerr and the Warriors are "finalizing a contract extension that will make him one of the highest-paid coaches in the NBA."

The Athletic's Tim Kawakami first reported in October that the two sides expected to reach an agreement during the summer after the 2017-18 season ended. Kerr told Kawakami he wanted to make sure he'd feel physically comfortable committing to a new deal.

"We just agreed we'd wait," Kerr said. "I've got two years left on my deal and wanted to make sure that everything went well this year health-wise. And I don't anticipate any issues going forward. I don't have any desire to be anywhere else. So I'm sure when we get down to it, we'll come to an agreement pretty quickly."

In almost any other circumstance, there wouldn't be any doubt regarding Kerr's future in the Bay Area. In his four years as head coach, the Warriors have won 265 regular-season games and three NBA titles.

However, Kerr's back problems added some uncertainty about whether he could continue to coach the Warriors, regardless of how much success they have enjoyed.

He took a leave of absence in October 2015 and didn't return until January 2016, by which time Golden State compiled a 39-4 record. Then he left during the first round of the 2017 playoffs and came back in time for Game 2 of that year's NBA Finals.

Kerr seemingly indicated in April 2017 he'd continue coaching only as long as he felt confident his body could handle the nightly rigors of the job.

"I will say this," he said, per the San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler. "This is not going to be a case where I'm coaching one night and not coaching the next. I'm not going to do that to our team, our staff. We're hoping that over the next week or two, whatever it is, that I can sort of make a definitive realization, or deduction, or just feel it, that I'm going to do this or I'm not."

Kerr has also mentioned concerns about whether his players tune him out on occasion. He handed coaching duties over to the players for a 129-83 win over the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 12, saying he wanted to help refocus the team in the middle of the regular season. 

Upon announcing he was back for the 2017 Finals, Kerr made light of Golden State's success without him, both in the playoffs to that point and the first half of 2015-16 under Luke Walton.

"What's our record now without me, like 800-12?" he told reporters.

Kerr's humility aside, his departure would've been a major blow. The Warriors' high level of play in his absence is a testament to how well he has drilled the team in practice. That, in turn, helped build a level of on-court cohesion that isn't dependent solely on the head coach.

In terms of team-building, the Warriors are pretty much set for the next few years.

Stephen Curry's max deal takes him through the 2021-22 season, while Klay Thompson and Draymond Green aren't free agents until 2019 and 2020, respectively. Kevin Durant told the Warriors he is not planning to opt in to his contract, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, but there's little indication he'll do anything else other than re-sign with Golden State.

Kerr is the only wild card in the Warriors' continued pursuit of a historic dynasty. The fact that he feels good enough to continue coaching takes a big weight off Golden State's shoulders.