Don't underestimate Joe Lacob.
It wasn't that long ago that everyone thought that Larry Ellison was going to buy the Warriors. One of the richest men in the world, he was known for his longstanding interest in the team. Surely he'd just be able to make a godfather offer and run away with it, right?
Not so fast. Before most of us had even figured out how to pronounce Lacob's last name, he snuck under the wire and bought the team for less that Ellison probably would have paid, if he only knew what he was competing against. Forget counting Lacob out - most people weren't aware that he was there to count.
Two years later, similar behind-the-scenes machinations led to the free-agent signing of Andre Iguodala. Nobody saw it coming until it was done, but just like that, the second-brightest jewel of the free agent class was a Warrior.
Given the media hubbub surrounding the firing of Mark Jackson, Lacob and General Manager Bob Myers had little hope to be similarly stealthy when it came to finding a new head coach. And with probable first-choice Steve Kerr apparently destined for the Knicks, and second-choice Stan Van Gundy demanding more authority than Lacob and Myers were willing to give, the general atmosphere around the Warriors' head coaching search could probably be best summed up by Kent Brockman and his unnamed analyst sidekick:
But then with a tweet for TNT's David Aldridge, everything changed:
Stunner: Steve Kerr spurns the Knicks, accepts Warriors' head coach job. Story coming on http://t.co/tv9kc59jsI.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) May 15, 2014
The Warriors' brass, whose last moment flight to Oklahoma City to woo Kerr was being seen as desperate, had pulled it off. Again. When nobody thought it was possible, the Warriors landed their man.
Kerr is less of a slam-dunk case as a head coach than Stan Van Gundy would have been. The latter immediately jumps to the top of the short list of coaches who make an real difference in the NBA, alongside Popovich, Spolestra, and Carlisle. Kerr hasn't coached. He still has to prove it.
But Steve Kerr's resume is strong:
As an NBA player, he has won five rings.
He played for the two greatest coaches of the modern era (Phil Jackson and Greg Poppovich), who both used systems that featured lots of ball and player movement, and seem well-suited to a team which features four superior passers in its starting lineup.
He has front office experience. His time as GM of the suns was not flawless, but is still almost certainly a net positive, as was discussed elsewhere.
He also comes across as one of the most astute analysts on TV or elsewhere. For a sense of how he thinks about the game, you might want to check out the five BS Report podcasts he did with Bill Simmons. This reddit thread is also likely to make you optimistic. He's known for his work ethic and is considered by many to be one of the best-prepared commentators around. If that translates to his work as a coach, it's likely to pay dividends.
Lastly, Kerr gets along with the Warriors front office. The broader dysfunction in the Warriors coaching staff certainly (regardless of whose fault it was) meant that we weren't getting the most out of a talented group of assistants, and it also meant that the coaching staff wasn't getting the best out of the team's analytics department. Kerr's history with Joe, Kirk Lacob, and team president Rick Welts means we're not likely to have that sort of problem again. Even if Kerr isn't a better coach that Mark Jackson, there's a good chance for better results just because everyone will be working together more productively.
There's risk, of course. Nobody can see the future, and the absence of coaching experience means that Kerr is something of a blank slate onto which we can project our hopes and dreams of a perfect coach. He's going to have to earn the player's trust through hard work, insight, and understanding.
Even still, I fully expect the team to bring in an experienced assistant coach, a Mike Malone-type, to help smooth the transition, but the absence of any continuity on the coaching staff may result in some speed bumps as the team gets it together.
What else do we know about Kerr?
We know he's a fan of analytics without thinking they're the be-all, end-all. We know that he tried to trade for Steph Curry as GM of the Suns, which may help smooth hurt feelings from Jackson's departure. We know he's a fan of defense (the stated reason he fired Mike D'Antoni as Suns coach).
I could pluck a lot of other interesting tidbits from the reddit thread (many of which are quotes taken from the BS report). Did you know Kerr is a big fan of Zach Lowe? I can feel the GSOM love building already.
There will be time to break this all down in more detail later. But for now, ladies and gentleman, the head coach of your 2014-15 Golden State Warriors: