OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr will take a leave of absence as he recovers from back surgery and will be replaced on an interim basis by Luke Walton.
The Warriors announced Thursday that Kerr will need time off for rehabilitation and recovery. Kerr underwent back surgery to repair a ruptured disc in late July and had follow-up surgery in September.
“After the first two days of training camp, I realized I need to take a step back and focus on my rehabilitation in order to be ready for the grind of another NBA season,” Kerr said in a statement. “As I noted last week, my summer was difficult and no fun due to the multiple back surgeries. At this point, I simply want to get healthy and back to my normal daily routine on and off the court.”
The Warriors said they don’t know yet how long Kerr will be out.
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“At this point, the most important thing is to make sure Steve is healthy, completely recovered and ready for not only the rigors of a long NBA season, but day-to-day life in general,” general manager Bob Myers said. “We don’t anticipate the recovery process will be long term, but as of today we don’t know the exact timeframe. We’ll evaluate his progress daily and provide updates as necessary.”
Kerr originally tweaked his back during the NBA Finals last June. He had planned to take a back seat during training camp and said after the first practice that he had only been cleared to “walk around and yell at people, talk to the press.”
When he was asked about swingman Andre Iguodala’s recent trip to Germany to receive injections in his knees, Kerr joked: “It worked. I’m going to be on my way to Germany tomorrow for my whole body.”
The Warriors won their first NBA title in 40 years in Kerr’s first year as coach last season.
Walton was an assistant for Golden State last season and moved into the lead assistant role this summer after Alvin Gentry left to take the head coaching job in New Orleans.
Walton, the son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton, played collegiately at Arizona under Lute Olson and spent 10 years in the NBA. He was part of two championship teams with the Los Angeles Lakers under Phil Jackson.
“Luke is fortunate enough to have played and coached under some great coaches,” Myers said last week. “He has an innate ability to think the game, to learn the game and also to communicate the game.”
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report