Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Steve Kerr becomes NBA’s highest-paid coach after signing two-year, $35M contract extension, per report

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has agreed to a two-year, $35 million extension, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The new deal will make Kerr the highest-paid head coach in the league with an annual salary of $17.5 million. 

Gregg Popovich makes more than this on an annual basis, but he is also the San Antonio Spurs‘ president. Erik Spoelstra, who signed an eight-year extension earlier this season with the Miami Heat, is the league’s second-highest paid coach $15M per year. 

Kerr’s deal comes as the Warriors continue to cling tightly to their championship core. Stephen Curry is locked in with Golden State through 2026 as part of the four-year, $215M extension he signed in the summer of 2021, which made him the first player in history to sign two $200M contracts in his career. Draymond Green is in the first year of the four-year. $100M deal he signed this past summer. 

The only question mark is Klay Thompson, who is set to become a free agent this summer. The Warriors opted not to trade Thompson, who was recently removed from the starting lineup as his production has fallen off considerably, at the deadline, and would likely be open to bringing him back. But it would most likely have to be at a salary that would be less than he could get elsewhere. 

Joe Lacob has, the Warriors’ majority owner, said he wants to avoid the luxury tax, which will take some fat trimming to pull off. But he clearly signed off on paying Kerr, who was so instrumental in lifting the Warriors to a championship level following the firing of Mark Jackson, who led Golden State to 51 wins in his final season in 2013-14. 

The very next season, Kerr, with largely the same roster, led Golden State to 67 wins and the franchise’s first championship since 1975. In 2015-16, the Warriors won an NBA record 73 games before falling to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in an epic seven-game Finals. All told, Kerr has led the Warriors to six Finals appearances and four championships, with the most recent coming in 2022. 

Kerr fundamentally changed the Warriors when he instituted an offense predicated on ball and player movement, leaning heavily into playing Curry off ball — a stark departure from the matchup-obsessed system Jackson preferred that never yielded a top-10 offense. 

He has had his work cut out for him the past few seasons as the Warriors are suddenly having to find ways to stay competitive without nearly the talent advantage they’ve long enjoyed. Kerr has had mixed results in developing young players. 

James Wiseman was a flop. Jordan Poole, in hindsight, played the best basketball of his career under Kerr. Moses Moody has never gotten a consistent opportunity. Jonathan Kuminga is looking like the golden star of Kerr’s developmental resume, and even he had to wait longer than most people thought he should have to become a Warriors regular. 

While not the team they once were, the Warriors are still a threat. They pulled a first-round upset over the Kings last season, and they’re heating up for the stretch run this season having won nine of their last 11 games entering play on Friday. 

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