Warriors coach Steve Kerr takes indefinite leave for surgery recovery

OAKLAND, Calif. -- 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 defending NBA champion Warriors announced Thursday that Kerr will need time off for rehabilitation and recovery.

"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."

Kerr ruptured a disk in his back during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. He has had two surgeries to repair the injury, one on July 28 and another on Sept. 4.

The Warriors said they don't know how long Kerr will be out.

"Our biggest concern is for his health," Walton said. "We know he's going to get better, but on a friend level, it's always hard to see someone you hold in high regard and care about, not able to really do what they love to do."

General manager Bob Myers would not put a time frame on Kerr's return, but a source told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne the hope is Kerr is ready to coach when the Warriors' regular season opens Oct. 27.

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 also coached the team's summer league squad this year.

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.

"We'll keep this ship moving in the right direction until our captain can return," Walton said at practice Thursday.

ESPN staff writer Ethan Sherwood Strauss and The Associated Press contributed to this report.