Here's a transcript of Tim Kawakami's phone conversation with Steve Kerr on Wednesday, not long after he agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal to replace Mark Jackson as the Warriors coach
Q: Well, I guess that happened quickly.
KERR: Yeah. I couldn't be more excited. It's thrilling, and it's such a great opportunity and there's so many wonderful people involved. It just seems like the perfect situation.
Q: Did Lacob and Myers have to come in and convince you—even change your mind?
KERR: What helped is that I have previous relationships with Joe and Kirk and definitely Bob. Bob and I have known each other for years—he was Robin Lopez's agent; I drafted Robin in Phoenix, so we spent some time together then.
So I knew Bob. And I've known Joe actually a long time through a mutual friend, a venture capitalist in the Bay Area. So we've been on golf trips together.
The familiarity for sure was helpful and it helped everybody relax and just sort of ... be themselves.
I've been preparing for this for the last year. I knew I wanted to coach and I had some prepared materials that I showed them. But more than anything we just talked about the opportunity and the team and the possibilities.
We were just all very comfortable with one another.
Q: Lacob mentioned that he was wowed by the details you provided on this team. How detailed did you get?
KERR: I've been preparing for this for a while. I've really thought things through in terms of my coaching philosophy. There's all kinds of stuff I have.. I guess you would call my doctrines, just putting my thoughts on paper.
Jeff Van Gundy told me two years ago, when I said I'd really like to coach, what should I do, he said put all of your thoughts on paper, everything you think is important for a team. Put it on paper. Just a chance to get thoughts together and think about it. And that was great advice.
I've done that. Gone over in detail what my expectations would be for a team and how I'd like to play, how my staff would look like, what the daily routine would be, everything from social media, training staff, assist coaching staff... I've put a lot of thought in this.
And this year when I really decided I think I'm going to do this, I put together some scouting reports and synopses on the team. So I had stuff prepared for various teams and when the Warriors job opened up, I worked hard on just thinking about their team and what I would like to do and that sort of thing.
So it was just something that I've been working on with an eye towards my next career.
Q: We've talked about how badly you wanted Curry in the 2009 draft and almost got him. I'd imagine Curry was a giant pull for you here?
KERR: It was huge. I talked to him tonight and I told him this is retribution for that deal falling through back in '09. (Laughs.)
A big part of the pull was not just Steph but the whole roster. It's a really skilled, talented team.
They've done a lot of good things the last couple years, they play both ends which was very important. This is not a renovation by any means.
This is more just this team has done great things the last couple years and let's try to build on that.
I love the mentality. I think Mark really instilled a defensive identity and the emphasis on rebounding. He did a lot of really good things. That makes my job a lot easier.
I'm able to build on that rather than starting to try to build a foundation. The foundation is already there.
It's really an attractive job.
Q: Not asking about the specifics, but that sounds like your talk with Curry tonight went well. Is that accurate?
KERR: It was great. We laughed about the draft stuff from a couple years ago. He was very positive and we're planing on getting together soon.
I've got to work a couple more weeks with Turner to finish off my season with them. We're planning to get together but we didn't get into any details about strategy or anything like that.
But he expressed his desire to talk more about the team and expectations and how we can get better and all that. I'm looking forward to all that and looking forward to calling the rest of the guys in the net day or two.
Q: With you two guys, I imagine the topic of golf might've had the priority, anyway.
KERR: Hey, maybe we'll have our talk about the team over golf. That sounds like a good idea.
Q: So do you think you'll be running the Triangle with this team? Maybe this personnel isn't best suited for that? Will you run a different offense than the Triangle?
KERR: It will be influenced by the Triangle but it will not look like the Bulls of the '90s, I can tell you that.
The game has changed and I think my philosophy would reflect that. For instance, I would be crazy to do away with screen and roll with Steph—he's devastating in it. We'll do plenty of that.
But we have the opportunity to make some strides offensively and I think that will be reflected in my influences—which have been Popovich and Phil and Lenny Wilkens...
They've all been coaches who emphasized ball movement, spacing and flow and having a a system to rely on and that's what i'm looking to give.
Q: How closely did you follow the bumpiness of the way Mark Jackson left? Did you need to discuss that with the Warriors before taking this job?
KERR: I did and I talked about it with those guys yesterday. I have a decent feel for it.
As a GM a few years ago in Phoenix, I understand those dynamics can be really tricky sometimes. So it was part of the conversation yesterday that we had for sure.
Q: Will you have a role in player personnel decisions?
KERR: Yeah, but not as a decision-maker and I wouldn't want that. I'm going to have a busy enough job as it is.
I think to me the healthiest situation for any coach is to have a say, but not have the ultimate decision. I think that's what the GM is for and I got a really good sense from all the guys that it's about a consensus. And I'll be part of that.
Q: You take over 51-win team with a very popular former coach. Is that something you're facing right away—that this is going to be a pressure job?
KERR: Every position in the NBA is filed with challenges regardless of what people are talking about.
And I did think about that, about the East vs. the West situation ... those are issues.
But look, in the end, to have a really good roster and some pressure is better than having a roster and no pressure.And this is not a reference to New York, obviously. I'm just saying in general.
A good roster with pressure is far superior to a low bar and not much talent. So I'm excited about what I'm looking at.
Q: Did you literally make the decision today?
KERR: I did. This morning.
But it was agonizing to say no to Phil Jackson. He has meant so much to me in my life and he's had such an influence on my philosophy on the game and team-building.
When Phil asked me to coach the Knicks, my first thought was 'How could I ever say no?'
That's why it took me some time to sort throught my thoughts and my feelings ... until I knew in my gut what was the right fit for me.
Three hours with those guys yesterday, and I knew that it was the right fit.
It's great on a family level with my daughter being up in Cal and my wife and sons in San Diego.
It's great on a basketball level to inherit a good team and a young team with high-character players and a front office I'm already famliar with and feel very confident in and comfortable with ... Yeah ... it felt right immediately.
I'm glad that it all worked out the way it did.
Q: Are you going to live full-time in the Bay Area?
KERR: Oh yeah, yeah for sure. We're not going to sell our house in San Diego, but I'm absolutely going to be in the Bay Area full-time. That's a no-brainer. I haven't gotten that far about where exactly, but that's not an issue.
Q: You knew Joe Lacob, but what struck you about him in this meeting that made you want to work for him?
KERR: His passion, his commitment to the team.
What really stood out to me is the improvement in the organization since he took over, what's happened not just on the court but internally.
I'm very close with Rick Welts, and I know the business side of the organization has been dramatically improved over the last couple years—season-ticket sales, sponsorships, TV rights, everything is on the upswing.
It just feels like this is a young, up-and-coming organization. Joe has spear-headed that effort. And that's exciting.
This is an organization that will not spare an expense to improve the team and that's important. And Joe's proven that with the product he's put on the floor and the entertainment experience for the fans. And there's a new building coming eventually. It's just incredibly exciting.