As Kerr returns, Walton, Lue in play as possible All-Star coaches

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr, after being sidelined from the Warriors’ first 43 games this season, finally was back on the sideline for their home game against Indiana Friday night at Oracle Arena (10:30 ET, ESPN).

But Luke Walton still might want to hold off making any personal plans for All-Star 2016.

Walton served as Golden State’s interim coach while Kerr recovered and rehabilitated from two offseason back surgeries. Kerr is back now as the Warriors’ coach of record, but the NBA reportedly still is considering whether Walton might be invited to coach the Western Conference All-Stars, assuming Golden State has the conference’s best record through games of Sunday, Jan. 31.

“We are reviewing our rules around the West coach situation to determine what is appropriate,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said late Friday.

All-Star coaches, by NBA rules, are drawn from the team with its conference’s best record as of the official cutoff date, which is Jan. 31 this season. The exception is when a coach and his staff earned that honor the previous season, in which case the coaches of the second-place team handle All-Star duties. Kerr and the Golden State staff, including Walton, oversaw the West squad at the 2015 All-Star Game in New York.

Some had wondered, however, if Walton – because he had not served as “head coach” last February – might be eligible this time for the Feb. 14 game in Toronto. He was, after all, reported to be eligible for NBA Coach of the Year consideration even though his official head coaching record remains 0-0. The Warriors’ 39-4 mark technically goes on Kerr’s coaching record.

If Walton doesn’t coach the West All-Stars, the likely candidate is San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich. Either because of the “Riley rule” – the NBA spared coaches from working the All-Star Game in consecutive seasons in the 1980s when Lakers coach Pat Riley annually had his team atop the standings at the cutoff date – or because the Spurs overtake the Warriors, Popovich would be in line to go with his staff for the fourth time. He previously coach the West All-Stars in 2005, 2011 and 2013.

The Spurs (37-6) can’t be caught by the West’s third-best team, Oklahoma City (33-12). After Friday’s OKC victory at Dallas, both teams have four games by the Jan. 31 cutoff – even if San Antonio loses all four and OKC wins all four, the Spurs still would have the better record.

In another interesting twist, if the Cleveland Cavaliers remain in first place on Jan. 31, new head coach Tyronn Lue will be invited to coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars, the NBA also confirmed.

Lue, the Cleveland associate promoted to head coach Friday with the Cavaliers’ decision to fire David Blatt, would be accompanied by the rest of Cavs staff. Blatt not included, presumably.

Then again, there is some precedent for NBA figures no longer in the league to participate on All-Star Weekend. Guard Craig Hodges was invited to defend his title in the 3-Point Shootout in 1993 after the Chicago Bulls had waived him following the 1991-92 season. Back in 1977, forward Larry McNeil competed in the NBA’s first Slam Dunk contest at the All-Star Game in Milwaukee between being waived by the Nets in December and signed by Golden State in late February.

And of course, Magic Johnson famously played in and was named MVP of the 1992 All-Star Game after abruptly retiring when he announced in November 1991 that he had contracted the HIV virus.

19 Comments

  1. Theo says:

    Lue does NOT deserve to coach by ANY MEANS. If default rules apply, he should have an ounce of decency and give the East All-Star coaching job to Casey. Tyron Lue hasn’t done a thing, nor will he ever achieve anything. But besides that he def does not deserve to coach in the ASG. Dwane Casey all day.

  2. Carguy16 says:

    Only in Cleveland can a Coach of any sport get screwed and players go on to other teams and become Great!!! Good luck Coach Blatt, They did you a favor… Go on and be great!!! Cleveland will never win a Championship…

  3. archeonix says:

    LeBron coaches the East, Kobe Bryant the West.

  4. Younglew2 says:

    If Blatt isn’t eligible the honors supposed to go to the team with the second best record. Not Lue! Toronto is also playing good ball and coach should be great. NBA always screwing up the process. Should challenge teams on firing of coaches with great results. Understand they may not get over the hump, but it takes talent just as much as it takes coaching. Look at Pops! Great players with great coaching. Especially when you let teams stack a squad (Cleveland)!

  5. rjsl says:

    walton will coach the east.

  6. Shav says:

    Laker champions coaching both sides. Ruthless domination.

  7. titan776 says:

    How about, for Kobe’s last all-star game, you have Walton & Lue coaches of each conference.. them being former teamates of Kobe’s championchip teams?

  8. Jesse says:

    I can’t believe I’m reading this. dirty. Blatt, good couch or not, he deserves the job. so simple.
    and about Lou’s statement “i won’t change things, i’ll do them the same, but better” – poor saying, bad handle of the situation and above all with a bad taste.

    btw – Pacers guy. jus’t had to say something – the whole thing looks and smells like something i don’t want to see in the NBA ever again
    good luck Blatt and may the force be with you ,)

  9. Sick & tired in reading about Cleveland’s Gen Manager Griffin’s reasons for firing Blatt. What amazing is how he went about the firing. For the weeks to come this story of inreasons for firing Blatt will continue to be debated. One thing for sure it has hurt the wonderful image of NBA.

  10. Roy says:

    Justice needs to be done, #Blatt2AllStar

    May tonight end with LeFat choking on his tears after another loss…. #LetsGoBulls

  11. Bodjee says:

    I think Lue should coach the East because he has been part of the team from the beginning of the season and his values to the Cavs are well documented. As for the West, Kerr should be the coach because that’s how it goes but Kerr should find a reason not to show up in Toronto which will then allow Walton to coach the game.🙂

  12. SP says:

    Has there ever been a case in the NBA that a team fired the coach while being in #1 position ?
    or is this the president ?

  13. Anthony Mariano says:

    Casey should be coaching the East, won’t be fair if Lue comes in and takes what Casey deserves!

    • Alex says:

      It’s either Dwayne Casey or Lebron James!! Hands down the best Coach in the East without a doubt is Dwayne Casey. He deserve to coach the East. I can probably coach the East, if I had James in my team. Both Lue or Blatt don’t deserve to Coach the East!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. B. Shirts V. W. Skins says:

    you mean “not Pop!!!!!!”???

  15. Drago says:

    Walton did a fantastic job and they should make an exception for him in honor of his great achievement

  16. No fair to Coach Walton, stand in or not, he earned the right to coach all stars, not Kerr!!!!!!