Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has been suffering from pain stemming from 2015 back surgery, will miss Monday’s Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers – the second straight game he will miss in the first-round playoff series.
“As of now, I’m consulting with my doctors,” Kerr said on Sunday when he surprised reporters by making an interview appearance. “I’m hoping for some improvement, and if I can get some improvement I’ll get back on the sidelines. But I’m not going to do that unless I know I can help the team. So, I will not coach [Monday] night. [He’s] in the midst of continuing to discuss the situation with my doctors and trying to find some solutions, and I will go from there. But tomorrow I will not coach and hopefully we can find some things to help over the next few days and I will get back out there.”
Kerr made the trip to Portland, but did not join the team for practice at the Moda Center on Saturday morning. Still, the Warriors seemed optimistic that if he stayed home in the morning, he would feel well enough to coach that night in Game 3.
And when a reporter asked Saturday if there was any more specific diagnosis than “illness,” Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown, who took the reins in Kerr’s absence during Golden State’s 119-113 comeback win over the Blazers, said, “No, just an illness.”
Kerr said on Sunday that he has been plagued with aches and pains since having back surgery before the 2015-16 season, but it had worsened over the past week. He would not go into detail about symptoms he was experiencing, preferring to leave it at “discomfort.”
He did say that he is feeling slightly better than he did on Saturday.
“I will say this. This is not going to be a case where I’m coaching one night and not coaching the next,” Kerr said. “I’m not going to do that to our team or our staff. We’re hoping that over the next week or two, whatever it is, I can sort of make a definitive realization or deduction, or just feel it that I’m going to do this or I’m not.”
Kerr says that even if he isn’t on the sidelines, he will be involved.
“If I’m not coaching, I will still be watching tape with the staff which I did this morning,” Kerr said. “I’ll still be talking to players behind the scenes. So I can still help, but coaching in the game is a different deal and that’s what I have to determine if I can do or not.”
Kerr hasn’t felt well all series and “recently it became unbearable,” according to Mercury News beat columnist Marcus Thompson. “He is suffering,” CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole reported, and “the pain is so intense that Kerr even had difficulty keeping up with the game” from his hotel. It is unknown if the pain is directly related to the back surgery complications that kept Kerr sidelined for the first 43 games of the 2015-16 regular season.
After Monday’s game, Stephen Curry held onto the game ball to give it to Kerr.
Steph Curry honored Steve Kerr with the game ball in his postgame interview pic.twitter.com/NvMacW9quC
— KNBR (@KNBR) April 23, 2017
“He’s obviously going through a lot physically,” Curry said at the podium after the game. “And that’s first and foremost for him to take care of himself, make sure he’s on the road to recovery and feeling like himself.”
Brown told media that while the team is concerned about Kerr’s health, Warriors general manager Bob Myer’s communication with the team about Kerr has “put everybody’s ease, at least for the time being.”
“Obviously we have good guys who care a lot about not just Steve, but everybody else and each other especially,” Brown said. “I think if it was a younger group and the communication wasn’t as open as it is right now, maybe there would be some [more] concern.”
The Warriors will go for a sweep of the Blazers on Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET in Portland.