In a shocking twist, and more evidence not to believe everything you read, Steve Kerr jilted his former coach and accepted the head coaching job of the Golden State Warriors. It had long been rumored that Kerr’s addition to Phil Jackson’s staff was a mere formality. Both were interested in the other. Their relationship, which began when Kerr was a three point specialist for the Bulls in 1993, expanded over the years from coach and player to friend. It all seemed headed towards Kerr going to New York. That is until Mark Jackson was abruptly fired for specious reasons and the Warriors with young talent but with a heavily mortgaged roster made their bid to get Kerr after a rejection by Stan Van Gundy. Kerr who lives in San Diego and whose daughter plays volleyball at Cal found the offer too tempting to turn down. His family is a short flight away. And of course the 5 million per year didn’t hurt. But he was conflicted as well. The Eastern Conference is an easier path to the playoffs and the Knicks have one year of purgatory before they can go on a spending spree. The Warriors, on the other hand, have little to no financial flexibility. They have $65 million dollars allotted in salaries for next year. And $50 million dollars already spent in 2015-16. They play in the tough Western Conference and are in the same division as the Lakers, Clippers, Suns and Kings. But the appeal of Steph Curry and the geographical location of being close to family was too much for Kerr to resist. Kerr, the second round draft pick of the Phoenix Suns in 1988, the specialist who played on 6 NBA teams, will have a chance to guide his own team to what he hopes is sustained success.
Stan Van Gundy accepted the Detroit Pistons job. He will coach and be head of Basketball Operations. It is a dream scenario for an experienced coach like Van Gundy who had success with Miami and Orlando. His negative- an over-reactive on court demeanor that has alienated star players – hardly outweighs his coaching acumen and resume. He is a skilled tactician who can get the most out of the players he has on the roster. Detroit is at rock bottom, having been in the lottery the past five years. But they have money to spend. They have $40 million dollars allotted in salaries next year and $22 million dollars allotted in salaries for 2015-16. Van Gundy has the authority to build his team the way he wants, to start at the ground level. Early indications are that he is going to hire Otis Smith as the new general manager. They worked together in Orlando; Otis was loyal to Van Gundy all the way to the end. The decision to take the Detroit job was a no brainer. The Pistons play in the Eastern Conference. They are in a division that is mediocre. Milwaukee is in the lottery this year. Cleveland is in the lottery this year. Indiana is a mess. Chicago does not have Derrick Rose. Van Gundy can realistically shore up his perimeter shooting with guards like Jodie Meeks and/or Nick Young and compete for the last playoff spot in the east.