Steve Kerr Spurns Phil Jackson-Led Knicks to Coach NBA Warriors

Steve Kerr agreed to coach the National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors after being courted for weeks by Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks.

“We’ve reached an agreement in principle for Steve Kerr to become our head coach,” Warriors spokesman Raymond Ridder said last night in an e-mail message, without giving contract details.

Kerr, 48, agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract with the Warriors, ESPN reported, citing people it did not identify.

Kerr had been considered the front-runner to be hired as Knicks coach by new team president Jackson, with whom Kerr shared three straight NBA titles with the 1990s Chicago Bulls.

He chose the Warriors, who went 51-31 this season and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, over a Knicks team that failed to reach the postseason.

“Ultimately, it was agonizing to say no to Phil because of what I think of him and what he’s done for my career,” Kerr told NBA.com. “When Phil Jackson asks you to coach the Knicks, how do you say no? I think they’re going to turn it around, but it’s going to be a big undertaking and it’s going to take time. The idea of doing that 3,000 miles from home, it just didn’t feel right.”

Kerr, who grew up in Southern California and now lives in San Diego, has a daughter at the University of California at Berkeley, close to the Warriors’ home in Oakland.

“They have a good young team. The location is ideal,” Kerr told NBA.com. “My daughter goes to Cal and plays volleyball. My oldest son is in college in San Diego and our youngest is a junior in high school. It’s just a short flight for them.”

Coaches Fired

The Warriors earlier this month fired coach Mark Jackson after three seasons. The Knicks have been looking for a coach since firing Mike Woodson in April.

Kerr has no previous coaching experience, but was general manager of the Phoenix Suns for three years. He was an NBA guard from 1988-2003, and holds the career 3-point record with a .454 shooting percentage.

He played for six teams, including the Phil Jackson-coached Bulls from 1993-94 to 1997-98. Led by Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Chicago won NBA titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

A second-round draft pick of the Suns in 1988, Kerr was the team’s general manager from 2007-2010 after a post-retirement stint as a game analyst for Time Warner Inc.’s TNT network. He returned to TNT after leaving the Suns, and has been working at NBA games during this year’s playoffs.

No Experience

Warriors owner Joe Lacob, a partner at Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, acknowledged in an interview with USA Today that Kerr -- like Mark Jackson when he was hired by the Warriors -- is a TV commentator with no previous coaching experience.

“But this is what management is all about. You have to be able to pick people, and he is incredibly prepared,” Lacob told the newspaper. “So it’s just about finding the right fit for the organization and a guy who has extremely high potential, is a hard worker and is very prepared. That’s what we have got.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Rob Gloster in San Francisco at rgloster@bloomberg.net; Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net Jay Beberman

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