We told you earlier in the week it was coming down to two guys: Anthony Davis of the Pelicans or Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns.
Kobe Bryant was voted an All-Star starter by the fans but can’t play due to his fractured knee, so the league office picks the replacement — meaning new commissioner Adam Silver gets the final call. Dragic and Davis were the clear finalists (with all due respect to DeMarcus Cousins, who could have been in the mix if Davis wasn’t the hometown guy).
Do you replace a guard with a guard? In that case Dragic was the best all (just edging out Mike Conley of the Grizzlies). Or, do you put in a deserving big man who got the most votes from the coaches of any replacement who didn’t make the team, and who just happens to play for New Orleans, where the All-Star Game is being hosted this year?
Silver chose Davis, the league has announced. (Sam Amick of the USA Today did break the story before it became official.)
This isn’t a surprise; the buzz around the league had been that Davis was most likely to get the spot.
The NBA is about marketing, so what did you expect? Of course they chose the good hometown story.
That said, Davis is deserving. He is averaging 20.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and a league-leading 3.3 blocks a game this season for the Pelicans. He has a PER of 27.1 — fifth best in the NBA on the season, which is ridiculous for a guy in his second season. He is having a monster season for a young Pelicans team.
Plus, Davis might bring a few blocked shots and a little defense to the All-Star Game. That would be a nice change of pace.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.
Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.