Friday has been a confusing day for the NBA when it comes to All-Star coaches. By rule, the coach of the team with the best record in each conference and their staff will coach the two All-Star teams. But the best teams in each conference have somewhat unprecedented situations.
For the Warriors, Steve Kerr is making his return tonight after missing the first 43 games of the season recovering from back surgery. The NBA has ruled that he will be the coach of record for the beginning of the season, but interim coach Luke Walton won Western Conference Coach of the Month during the Warriors’ undefeated November run. Now that Kerr is back, he would be the coach that would be in line to represent the Warriors—except he coached the West All-Stars last year, and a coach is not allowed to do it two years in a row. So Gregg Popovich of the second-place Spurs will be in line to coach the West.
In the East, the first-place Cavaliers just fired David Blatt and replaced him with Tyronn Lue. According to NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner, Lue will be eligible to coach the All-Star team:
All-Star coaches, by NBA rules, are drawn from the team with its conference’s best record as of the official cutoff date, in this case Jan. 31. 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.
In another interesting twist, if the Cleveland Cavaliers remain in first place on Jan. 31, new head coach Tyronn Lue would be eligible to coach the All-Star Game, an NBA spokesperson confirmed.
Lue, the Cleveland assistant promoted to head coach Friday with the Cavaliers’ decision to fire David Blatt, is eligible to coach the East All-Stars.
Kerr, Walton and their staff worked the 2015 All-Star Game in New York. Some had wondered if Walton, because he had not gone as “head coach,” might be eligible to go again this time for the Feb. 14 game in Toronto. He was, after all, eligible for Coach of the Year consideration, even though his official head coaching record remains 0-0.
It’s a little disappointing that Walton won’t be coaching the West—it would be a hilarious subplot if two coaches who didn’t enter the season as their team’s full-time head coach worked the All-Star game (the Cavs announced Friday that Lue will not be considered an “interim” head coach).
Besides, Popovich has been well known to dislike having to coach the All-Star team, preferring to take the week off. If it was up to him, he’d gladly let Walton do it in his place. But it sounds like we’ll be getting Lue and Popovich on the sidelines.