OAKLAND (AP) — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is still experiencing symptoms caused by complications following back surgery this summer and isn’t sure when he will resume his duties on the bench.
The second-year coach of the defending NBA champions has been on a leave of absence since having issues during the first week of training camp, including headaches and fatigue. He was on hand at Oracle Arena for Tuesday night’s championship banner raising and ring ceremony as part of pregame festivities and planned to watch the game from the locker room.
“I am feeling better, so that’s the good news. The bad news is I’m not feeling well enough to coach yet,” Kerr said. “It’s hard because I don’t know when that will be. There’s no timetable. It’s not a sprained ankle, two-to-four weeks type thing. When I feel better, I’ll feel better.
“It’s very frustrating but I am improving. I’m able to physically work out now, which has helped quite a bit the last couple weeks. But I know I’m not healthy enough yet to do this. It’s a demanding job and it wouldn’t be fair to the team and it wouldn’t be smart for me. We’ll see.”
The last thing Kerr wants is to rush back, then have a setback and need another extended break. When asked if he would be back on the bench by Jan. 1, Kerr said, “I would hope before then. ... I fully believe I will be back before too long.”
Luke Walton was set to coach the team in the opener against the New Orleans Pelicans, though Kerr was hopeful he would go on Golden State’s upcoming road trip to Houston and New Orleans this weekend. Kerr also got to see first-year Pelicans coach and former Warriors associate head coach Alvin Gentry on Tuesday.
“I think he’s getting better. Obviously it was a huge concern and I just didn’t think that it would be right to be here tonight and go through this whole ceremony without him being here,” Gentry said. “The main thing is that everybody’s ecstatic that he’s here, because he was the leader of this whole thing and he did an outstanding job as a first-year coach.
“No one would ever have anticipated him being able to do what he did, but if you know Steve and the competitiveness that he has, it doesn’t surprise me that we end up winning the championship at all, knowing how hard he worked and the dedication that he has and the way he sold the players on exactly what he wanted from them.”
The 50-year-old Kerr said it “will be very weird” to leave the court after the ceremony and go to the locker room, joking that he and Walton will use walkie-talkies to communicate. Kerr, who attended the past four practices after missing a string of workouts in recent weeks while “resting or seeing doctors,” also planned to see his team at halftime.
“It’s good to be back around the team quite a bit,” Kerr said. “Prospects long-term are great. I know I’m on the right path, I’m on the right track. I’m very confident I’ll be back this season. And I can’t wait. It’s killing me not to be out there tonight. I’m excited to be part of the ceremony but I’m really disappointed not to be coaching. I’ve got to be patient and that’s probably not my greatest virtue right now.”
Kerr has resumed exercise and said that has helped him physically and emotionally. He is stretching, using an elliptical machine for cardio work, doing yoga.
“That’s a big part of all this,” he said. “After the long season last year I basically spent three months in pain and not working out, and that’s a big part of my daily ritual. It was a long, long summer. It feels good now to break a sweat finally and I think that’s going to help me get out of this whole thing and push forward, and I’m very confident about that.”