When a player gets injured, a doctor can determine when that player will be healthy again.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with Steve Kerr, who may or may not return to the Golden State Warriors’ sideline this season – or ever.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Bleacher Report NBA analyst Ric Bucher said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I had a conversation with a Warriors official right before Game 1 of the playoffs against the Blazers, and I said, ‘Hey, by the way, how’s Steve’s health?’ Because last year, even when he came back and he was around, you could tell he was battling it. The official said, ‘We don’t know if it’s been reduced or whether he’s just found a better way to deal with it, but it hasn’t been as noticeable that he’s struggling with it. But by no means is it gone.’ And there’s a question as to when or if it will ever be gone.”
Kerr has had chronic back pain for several years. When, or if, that pain subsides remains to be seen.
“Look, he had spinal fluid leaking into his system from a botched surgery and it wasn’t caught right away,” Bucher explained. “The ramifications of that are still affecting him. This isn’t like a broken leg. This isn’t plantar fasciitis. There’s no real timetable or road map as to how he’s going to be able to proceed or exactly what they’re supposed to do.”
Mike Brown has stepped up in Kerr’s absence to coach the Warriors, who swept Portland in the first round of the playoffs. But as April turns to May and May turns to June, Kerr’s absence could weigh more heavily on the Warriors.
“It’s too hard to tell at this point because we’ve seen, what, two games essentially?” Boucher said. “The one thing I will say that jumps out at me – and we’ll see if this holds true and if it’s an indication of how things go – but in the very first game (Kerr missed), in Game 3, at the end of the first quarter, Draymond Green picked up his second foul. Normally, no questions asked, he’s coming to the bench. Mike Brown signals for Klay Thompson to come in, Klay Thomson is at the scorer’s table, Mike’s standing there and Draymond’s like, ‘No, no, don’t take me out. Let me stay. I’m good.’”
Brown contemplated Green’s request and eventually yielded.
“He sent Klay Thomson back to the bench,” Bucher said. “Not only did he keep Draymond Green in the rest of that quarter, but he continued to play him at the beginning of the second quarter. That’s something where I’ve seen Draymond do the exact same thing to Steve Kerr, and Steve Kerr will ignore that and say, ‘I’m not risking it. I’m not going with that.’ Whether that’s going to be the prevailing approach for Mike Brown, that this is going to be a little more player-directed, (we’ll see). In some ways, I wouldn’t blame him because they’ve won a championship. They’ve been together a long time. Certainly if there’s any guy who I trust when it comes to knowing how and when to foul and not to foul, it’s Draymond Green. But that’s the first (difference between Kerr and Brown) that I saw.”