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Steve Kerr on the coaching layoffs: ‘Never seen the league like this’

The Warriors coach was candid when addressing the state of NBA coaching.

Steve Kerr and Monty Williams talking before a game Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Despite a disappointing season — and despite the frequent calls from a grumpy faction of the fanbase on Twitter — Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is not in any danger of losing his job.

But he’s one of the few coaches who can say that. Every year there’s a mass exodus of successful coaches right around this time ... something I once dubbed the “NBA Layoffs.” And every year it seems that more and more coaches are fired, and that the ones who are laid off have brighter and brighter resumes.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Kerr addressed this subject. He didn’t want to focus on his own contract, which still has another year left on it, and instead said the priority is to re-sign general manager Bob Myers.

But while Kerr didn’t offer details on his contract, he did stress his desire to stay with the Warriors long term ... while also being open about the reality of the situation. With countless head coaches having been fired in the last few days and weeks, Kerr solemnly stated that he’d “never seen the league like this.”

“Our organization has a lot to sort through this summer,” Kerr said when asked if contract discussions had started yet for him. “And my contract situation is not, nor should it be, at the top of the list. Right now Bob’s contract situation is number one, because that influences a lot of the player decisions that have to be made — contracts, draft, free agency. So we will get to my stuff whenever that happens, and I’m in no rush for that. I love coaching, love coaching these players, I love coaching the Warriors, I love living in the Bay. But I’m also in the NBA. All you have to do is look at your phone every day and see the next Hall of Fame coach get fired. I’ve never seen the league like this. So I’m under no illusions that I have a lifetime job here, or something like that. But I love what I do, and I hope to be coaching here for a long time. But you never know how things work out, so we’ll see.”

You could sense some sadness from Kerr’s comment, and it’s not hard to see why. Just as the league’s players are one fraternity, its coaches form another. Just in the last few days, he saw two coaches lead their teams to great regular seasons and deep into the semifinals, just to be fired: the Philadelphia 76ers Doc Rivers, a former champion, Coach of the Year, and recently-named top 15 coach in NBA history; and the Phoenix Suns Monty Williams, last season’s Coach of the Year who led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 2021.

Shortly before that it was the Milwaukee Bucks Mike Budenholzer, a two-time Coach of the Year who is less than two years removed from winning a title. And before that it was the Toronto Raptors Nick Nurse, a Coach of the Year who led the Raptors past the Warriors in the 2019 Finals. Add in another Coach of the Year in Dwayne Casey, a respected veteran in Stephen Silas, and in-season firings of Nate McMillan and Kerr’s former coworker Steve Nash, and it’s easy to understand why Kerr has a long face about the issue.

At some point, Kerr might join their ranks as an accolade-laden coach fired by a team in search of a spark, an improvement, a scapegoat, or some combination of all three. But for now, he’ll probably just send out some apology texts to his buddies, and then offer some of them jobs.

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