OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors are taking another chance on a television analyst and former NBA guard who has never been a head coach at any level.
The Warriors won the bidding war with the New York Knicks for Steve Kerr on Wednesday, hiring him away from the TNT broadcast table to be their coach. The former Arizona Wildcats star agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal with the Warriors, said his agent, Mike Tannenbaum.
Kerr had been in talks with the Knicks about becoming their next coach since Phil Jackson took over as team president in March. He won three titles playing for Jackson in Chicago and another two under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.
Kerr also spent three seasons as general manager of the Phoenix Suns before stepping down in June 2010. He replaces Mark Jackson, who was fired by the Warriors on May 6 after three seasons and back-to-back playoff appearances.
Kerr said last month that he has wanted to coach since going back to his job at TNT. And while the lure of building a contender with his mentor at Madison Square Garden looked appealing, the chance to coach a Western Conference contender in his home state proved to be too much.
The Warriors job is certainly a far more attractive one than when owner Joe Lacob hired Jackson away from the ESPN/ABC broadcast table in June 2011. The Warriors are coming off a 51-win season and consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in 20 years, and they've surrounded star Stephen Curry with a talented young core.
Kerr also has close ties to Lacob and Warriors President Rick Welts, who worked in Phoenix's front office during Kerr's time as Suns general manager. And while he has no coaching experience, Kerr played 15 seasons and — also similar to Mark Jackson — he has been around some of the most successful sideline leaders.
Kerr has credited Phil Jackson and Tex Winter for most of his basketball knowledge. Winter taught the triangle offense and was a longtime assistant for Jackson, who used the system to win an NBA-record 11 championships as a coach of the Bulls and Lakers.
Golden State also spoke with former Orlando Magic and Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy during its search. Van Gundy agreed to a deal with Detroit on Tuesday after the Pistons gave him control of basketball operations — something the Warriors wouldn't do with Bob Myers and Lacob in place.
The Warriors met with Kerr again on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, where Kerr was calling the Thunder-Clippers game. And they apparently made a big enough impression — and contract offer — to land the man they wanted all along.