Coaching Profile: Steve Kerr Overview

May 7th, 2014 | by David J Smith
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Since the Utah Jazz opted to not bring back Tyrone Corbin, a lot of the focus has centered around two main names: Jim Boylen and Ettore Messina, with several media members stating there is interest in both. On Tuesday evening, ESPN’s Marc Stein brought out another name, with this Twitter nugget:

Latest on Steve Kerr front: Utah Jazz, I’m told, have also tried to wedge their way into the race for the TNT analyst alongside NYK and GSW

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 7, 2014

Kerr has emerged as perhaps this offseason’s most popular coaching candidate for several of the current openings. His name has been connected most prominently with the New York Knicks right after Mike Woodson was jettisoned. Kerr’s long-time connection with one Phil Jackson is a big reason behind that, along with the Zen Master’s insistence the the triangle offense comes to the Big Apple.

Likewise, with the Golden State Warriors severing ties with coach and former Jazz guard Mark Jackson, Kerr is being mentioned as a possibility in the Bay Area. He appears to have strong relationships with some in the Warriors brass, including owner Joe Lacob (Jackson’s disconnect with management is being mentioned as a big factor in his ousting). He also resides in San Diego and some have mentioned his desire to remain out west. There are also reports that the Los Angeles Lakers might want to chat with Kerr.

Chances are, he will land in one of those locales. But that said, his coming to Utah makes some sense. There are also some big questions that anyone who hires him would have to consider.

Kerr is a well known commodity, thanks to his long and very fruitful career. His 15-year career started in the late 1980s into the early 2000s. Always a valued role player, Kerr carved out a niche everywhere he went thanks to his perimeter marksmanship, heady play and veteran attitude. After time with the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic, he became a celebrated cog in the Chicago Bulls machine. He quickly earned the respect of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. He also helped break Utah Jazz fans’ hearts with his clutch play.

When he retired, he had five championship rings to his name–three with the Bulls and two more with the San Antonio Spurs. That championship clout and mentality might add to his appeal.  Kerr functioned as the general manager of the team that drafted him, the Suns, from 2007 to 2010. His tenure there had mixed reviews.  Phoenix had solid regular season success, but experienced some early playoff exits. They did make it to the Western Conference Finals in 2010. The biggest moves he made there were trading for and trading out Shaquille O’Neal.

The biggest question: the fact that he has not coached on any level. There is a long track history of similar candidates not working out. There have also been some recent examples such as Jason Kidd and even Mark Jackson, who have done fairly well (not to mention Larry Bird in his short stint as the Pacers’ head coach).  Similar arguments could be made for or against legend John Stockton.

Is this a route Utah wants to pursue? There would be tempered expectations for Kerr, since the Jazz most likely won’t compete for the postseason this upcoming season. That might be attractive to Kerr–the pressure to win could be overwhelming in New York (intense media scrutiny) or Golden State (high hopes for a very talented team) for a rookie skipper. Wherever he goes, it becomes pertinent to have a solid coaching staff replete with experience. A very experienced lead assistant could be integral. What would be his style? Is he a players’ coach? Would he help maintain the locker room? Those are all questions that would need to be answered.

With its young core and potentially a high draft pick, Kerr could grow with the Utah team. That might be a selling point. There is a lot to like about this young group, especially if a potential franchise player is added to the mix. His GM perspective could be something that might appeal to the Jazz front office.  He would understand well the dynamic between management and the coaching staff.

Again, the likelihood of Kerr coming to Utah when other promising possibilities are available is not high1. But it is not an outlandish notion.

David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife, Elizabeth, have some amazing children--four girls and two boys. Voted "Most Likely to Replace Jerry Sloan" in high school.
David J Smith

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