Steve Kerr

Kerr doubles down on strong Warriors critique after meeting with team

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SAN FRANCISCO — Even while he sat at home recovering from his calf injury and watching the games on TV, Gary Payton II had a sense that something was amiss from the Warriors. When he finally made his return Saturday, his initial suspicions were confirmed.

“I’m pretty sure you can see it on the court, just the disconnect that we have, especially on the defensive end,” Payton said after practice Monday. “I think a little bit of our offense is predicated on our defense, which it should be the opposite way around. We just [have] to get back to keep it simple on offense, and defense just coming out with first, second and third efforts and just using our brains while we play. We’ll turn things around sooner than expected.”

Two days after coach Steve Kerr hinted at a disconnect of some sort with his team, the Warriors returned to practice to prepare for Tuesday’s home game against a very tough Orlando Magic team that currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Kerr’s postgame comments — when he said the Warriors lacked “that grit every good team needs, when you pull together and just play for the group,” — caused a ripple effect throughout Dub Nation and the media.

While the coach didn’t point fingers at anyone in particular, his words left many people wondering who, if anyone, he was referring to or if he was just talking out of frustration.

Kerr said Monday that he had shared those feelings with his players, but he declined to go into specifics about what was said.

“Not anything I want to share,” Kerr said. “But we address everything that happens within this team. I have to pick my times to say certain things, to not say certain things. I felt like it was a good time to say that publicly because we have to turn the corner in that regard.

“We are not where we want to be. But I also don’t think we’re that far from being so.”

Most everyone is in agreement that the majority of the Warriors’ breakdowns have been on the defensive side, even if Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each have had their issues with consistency on the offensive end, as have others.

That’s forced Kerr to jumble his rotations in hopes of finding something that consistently works. He made some significant changes before Saturday’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks, starting Chris Paul over rookie Brandin Podziemski and going with rookie center Trayce Jackson-Davis instead of veteran Kevon Looney.

While both played well against the Mavericks, it wasn’t enough to solve the issues that have bogged down the Warriors for most of the season.

Frustrated, Kerr opened up after the Dallas game and implored the Warriors to connect and be committed to the quest and task at hand.

On Monday, the Warriors coach seemed less stressed than he’d been nearly 48 hours previously.

“I know the areas we have to improve in, both on the floor and intangibly,” Kerr said. “And I have a lot of confidence that we can figure it out together and become the team that we expected coming into the year.

“There have been a lot of circumstances that have led us to this point. They are what they are. What I’ve learned as a coach is every year is different. Every year you get hit with surprises, whether it’s an injury or suspension. Stuff just happens. The whole point of coaching is to help guide the group through that, and that’s what my staff and I are trying to for now.”

Following the loss to Dallas, Paul and Curry were among the players who talked about some of the issues facing the Warriors in that game and overall this season. Both spoke of the team needing to stay connected, and both seemed confident that things eventually will turn around.

Payton echoed some of the thoughts his teammates have.

“We have to get back to winning ways, doing things the right way, doing the simple things before it’s too late,” Payton said. “We have to pick and choose when we want to come back with the connectivity and get back to doing things for each other, get back to playing for one another and get back to having our trust on both sides of the ball.”

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