The health status of Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr remains uncertain with roughly a week to go before the start of the regular season.
Kerr’s suffering in the wake of two offseason back surgeries has improved to the point that he is with the team on its weeklong preseason swing through Southern California, but the Warriors remain unable to put a timetable on the full-time return of the coach who guided them to a championship in his first season on an NBA bench.
”He still doesn’t know,” Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said after practice Monday in San Diego. “He’s not going to force a return. There’s no timetable still. He’s been around more lately, which is great. As long as it’s not affecting his recovery, I think it’s healthy for the guys to see him.
“Steve’s brilliant at giving quick, clean messages to the players when they need it. He’s been able to do that the last couple days. He just told me I’m doing a great job, just keep doing what you’re doing; the guys are going to take care of some stuff you’re probably stressing about; we have really good players and so we’ll be fine.”
Although the Warriors have repeatedly stressed that no one can forecast how long it will take Kerr to recover, one source close to the situation conceded over the weekend that the team is bracing for the possibility that the coach will be unavailable “for a little while.”
The Warriors will host the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, when they will be feted with a ring ceremony after last season’s championship, the first for the franchise since 1975. New Orleans is coached by former Warriors assistant and offensive coordinator Alvin Gentry, whose departure put Walton in line for an offseason promotion to co-lead alongside defensive guru Ron Adams.
Kerr underwent surgery in late July to repair a ruptured disk in his back, but the procedure caused a leakage of spinal fluid. A second surgery was required in early September to address the leak, and ongoing headaches and discomfort forced Kerr to announce a leave of absence from the team after the first two days of training camp.
Warriors players have been openly hopeful from the start that Kerr would find a way to be on the bench for ring night.
Asked Monday about his comfort level stepping in, Walton said: “It’s night and day. Obviously this team’s preference is to have Steve coach Tuesday night, but the last couple weeks I feel like I’m comfortable now. If you told me two weeks ago that Steve’s out no matter what for the first regular-season game, I probably would not have slept much. But I feel fine and confident doing that if it’s required next week.”