On the heels of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich taking a vote on whether to trust Patty Mills "to not get his third foul," his counterpart in Golden State Steve Kerr wasn't to be outdone and took NBA coaching to another level by handing the clipboard to some of his wards.
Veterans Andre Iguodala and David West drew up plays during timeouts, while Draymond Green—all suited up—called the shots until their matchup against the Phoenix Suns ended. In the postgame press conference, Kerr also revealed that Iguodala also led the shootaround and JaVale McGee ran the tape earlier that day. The method obviously worked, with the Warriors running away with a 129-83 victory and extending their winning streak to three.
Kerr's latest "experiment" drew praise from basketball pundits and former players, but not without taking some heat, specifically from Suns players Troy Daniels (who?) and Jared Dudley, who both called the move as "disrespectful." Daniels even told The Arizona Republic, "I don't think it's hard to coach those guys, though. So I think anybody can do it."
The 2016 Coach of the Year and seven-time NBA champion was fully aware of the backlash, to which he rued via ESPN, "I've been quickly reminded today of what an insane world we live in, and how everything now is just a story and constantly judged and picked apart."
For Kerr, who said this might not be the last time he does something like it, it's as simple as, "We have a veteran team. You turn over the timeout huddles to the players so that they can discuss strategy on their own. I don't think its earth-shattering news."
As our modest contribution to the polarizing conversation, FHM discusses why we see nothing wrong with the Green and co. running the show:
Wake up, Warriors
Kerr wasn't sugarcoating when he told reporters, "It's their (GSW players) team," and "They determine their own fate." Golden State have suffered ugly defeats—lost by 30 to Jazz, then by 20 to Thunder—and the coaching staff felt the need to shake things up. Putting his personnel in a position where they are literally hands-on with implementing the system is apparently one way to do it, and judging by the outcome, it was an encouraging sign.
Hard to argue with the decision-making of a man who steered the franchise to two championships, including a record 207 total wins in his first three years as head coach. The situation must be pretty urgent for Kerr to employ a rather unconventional approach in reaching the defending champions and getting them more engaged in the team's philosophy.
Wrong people complained
Think about this: Dudley went scoreless in 10 minutes with three turnovers. Daniels was no better, finishing with seven points in 3-8 shooting, including 1-5 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, newly acquired Phoenix guard Elfrid Payton, who put up 29 points, eight rebounds and five assists discussed worrying about themselves and not "what's going on over there" when asked about the matter. See the difference?
Phoenix coach Jay Triano, whom Kerr was able to explain the gesture to after the match, had no problem with it, so why should his players take exception? He even joked, "I noticed their plays were a little better out of timeout tonight. Nah, I didn't have a problem with what Steve did." Dudley and would've made a bigger statement if they had valiant efforts to back it all up.
Although the best response may have come from Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: "I wouldn't do that. They already said LeBron's coaching the team, anyway. If I give him the clipboard, they're really going to say it."
Then don't suck
Such an episode brings to mind the time when the Cleveland Cavaliers set the playoff record for most three-point shots made (25) at the expense of the Atlanta Hawks in 2016. The 60-22 Hawks took offense to the unnecessary shots when the game was out of hand (final score: 123-98), but at the same time allowed 18 conversions from deep in just the first half. Moral of the story: at least in this case, the victim is as accountable as the culprit.
It's no suprise that Phoenix is tied for the worst record in the league (18-40), and shares the bottom of the West with the Dallas Mavericks. During the match in question, the Suns let their opponents score 37 each for two quarters, and could only muster a dozen markers in the last 12 minutes. The glaring discrepancy in blocks (16 to 3) is also telling of which team wants it more.
The same logic applies to why everyone, except their fans, understands why superstar Devin Booker isn't part of the All-Star Game and that he wasn't snubbed.