Mike Brown has been a natural filling in for Steve Kerr. (Jacob C. Palmer/S.F. Examiner)

Steve Kerr designed system for Warriors to thrive without him

OAKLAND — In January, at the Golden State Warriors’ groundbreaking ceremony for the Chase Center, Steve Kerr said he wasn’t so sure he’d be coaching the team when the arena opens in 2019.

It felt like a typical Kerr joke. After all, this is the man who can inject fun into nearly any situation.

But in light of his health deteriorating again — forcing him out of the Warriors’ last two games and the foreseeable future — it makes you wonder if his routine that day in Mission Bay was more prescient than anyone in the audience could’ve imagined.

There’s no timetable for Kerr’s return to the sideline, general manager Bob Myers revealed on Wednesday to Greg Papa and Bonta Hill on 95.7 The Game. The coach has plans to go to Stanford for “additional imaging and testing” in hopes of accurately diagnosing the issue.

“The larger picture, which I think people want to know, is he is suffering right now,” Myers said.

That much was apparent during Kerr’s interview on Sunday in Portland. He looked physically spent but still mustered the gumption to answer questions himself — even though Myers was originally scheduled for that duty.

The major problem is that there’s still uncertainty about what exactly is ailing Kerr. We know the issues started in Game 5 of the NBA Finals two seasons ago. That’s the last time he felt normal, Myers said. Then there were complications from a procedure in July 2015, leading Kerr to warn others suffering from back pain to “stay away from surgery.”

The team is in able hands with Mike Brown, and Kerr will remain actively involved as they hunt their second title in the last three seasons.

“Steve’s going to be a part of this process the whole time,” Brown said after practice on Wednesday. “I’m going to consult with him. The only time I won’t consult with him is during the game.”

steve kerr
Mike Brown has been a natural filling in for Steve Kerr. (Jacob C. Palmer/S.F. Examiner)

The operating feeling is that the team has enough — veterans, winning culture, familiarity with the circumstances — to overcome losing its leader. And as Myers reminded, Kerr’s demeanor lends itself to these situations: By spreading out the input across everyone in the organization, losing the guy at the top isn’t as devastating.

“It’s a horizontal leadership here,” Myers said. “It’s not as vertical as it is in some places. There’s a healthy respect for everyone. There’s a healthy respect for each coach, each person’s job, each player.”

The players are concerned about Kerr’s well-being because they respect and like him. And, as Kevin Durant repeatedly said while recovering from his own injury, they know there are things that matter more than basketball. The Warriors have the talent and savvy to produce results in their remaining games.

“At the end of the day, it’s about playing extremely hard, executing the gameplan and having some fun while being disciplined,” Durant explained.

“We’ll definitely give [Kerr] some time and space and support along the way,” Durant said later.

Everyone in the facility is hopeful that the problem is fixable and that Kerr will overcome his latest health setback. But no one is expecting that to happen on a timeline that aligns with the NBA schedule.

Contact Jacob C. Palmer at jpalmer@sfexaminer.com or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.Bob MyersGolden State WarriorsKevin DurantMike BrownSteve Kerr

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