For a while, it looked like Steve Kerr was locked into become the next head coach of the New York Knicks. But despite his close ties with team executive Phil Jackson and the Knicks’ early interest in Kerr, the five-time NBA champion instead signed a deal with the Golden State Warriors to replace Mark Jackson.
Kerr’s contract with the Warriors is for five years and $25 million; earlier reports suggested the Knicks wanted to pay Kerr a salary on par with a rookie coach, which is what Kerr will be in the 2014-15 season.
Thursday on SiriusXM NBA Radio – Kerr’s former home, where he hosted Long Range with Steve Kerr – former coach Mike Fratello suggested it wasn’t the money (or ownership) that led Kerr to Golden State, though; it was the proximity to his family.
“I know he is a big family man, and geographically it obviously keeps him closer to where his family lives,” Fratello said. “Being out there, he’s in that San Diego area, so that keeps him on the West Coast.”
Fratello sounded confident that Kerr will be a natural fit on the Warriors’ bench.
“He handles himself so well, he’s been in the front office already, he’s a championship player many times over,” Fratello said. “I think what they see in Steve is a guy whose got a disposition that players will like. He’s a bright young man, he’ll surround himself with the right coaching staff in his assistants.”
As for his spurning Jackson, his former coach and long-time friend, Fratello said Kerr probably had to endure sleepless nights.
“I know it had to be a really hard decision because when we talked a couple times about it, he has so much respect for Phil Jackson,” Fratello said. “I thought New York was gonna be where he wound up. Then all of this stuff happens with Golden State, where they fire Mark Jackson, and they thought they had Stan Van Gundy coming in, and then the opportunity opens for Steve. He had a great relationship with ownership out there, from what I understand. But I can’t tell you enough how much he respected Phil Jackson and wanted to be alongside Phil in New York. That had to be a tough one for him.”