Steve Kerr was back in charge of the Warriors — for a practice, at least.
Kerr ran the session Tuesday while interim coach Luke Walton was out sick. Kerr has been out since training camp as he deals with complications from offseason back surgery, including spinal-leak-related headaches that haven’t completely subsided.
“I felt pretty good, but I’m not 100 percent health-wise,” Kerr said. “But I’m getting better, building some strength. Today was a good day.”
Good enough to crack a joke. “Luke took a leave of absence today,” Kerr said.
Kerr said Walton will be back tonight for a home game against Utah and will coach the Warriors on Christmas Day in the NBA Finals rematch against Cleveland. He added he has no timeline for his return, saying he is pleased with recent progress but wants to make sure he is completely healthy.
“This has been a really good week,” Kerr said. “That’s the main thing. I have to keep that going.
“I don’t have a target date. I just want to keep going, keep getting stronger and keep feeling better. … I want to make sure I’m ready to take over for the long haul.”
Kerr will take a road trip to Dallas and Houston on Dec. 30 and 31 to test how he can handle the travel, and said he was confident he will be able to return at some point this season.
“I’m confident I’ll be back on the bench,” Kerr said. “I wouldn’t be here talking to you if I didn’t. I wouldn’t have been here the last nine days or whatever it’s been. Things are moving in the right direction.”
Kerr has been dealing with headaches after two back surgeries — the first procedure causing him to leak spinal fluid — that followed the Warriors’ first championship in 40 years. He took a leave of absence the first week of training camp and watched the Warriors’ record 24-0 start behind the scenes.
“It’s unbelievably frustrating, coming off of a title and having been able to coach this group of guys — with their talent, chemistry and everything we built last year and they built the previous years,” Kerr said. “To not be coaching is probably the most frustrating thing I’ve ever gone through.
“But this is life. People get sick. Things happen. You’ve got to heal, you’ve got to recover and that’s what I’m doing.”
The Warriors (26-1) are off to the best start in NBA history under Walton, but the team still wants Kerr back whenever he can return.
“Having coach kind of test it out, he looks good, looks energized,” Steph Curry said. “I don’t really know how he feels inside, but he’s got his presence and his voice.”
They heard his voice Monday, when he pointed out defensive deficiencies and in recent games. “You can’t get fooled by the record,” Kerr said. “You can’t get lulled to sleep by the record. You have to keep getting better, whether you win or lose. We feel like we can make a lot of improvements.”