NBA ‘Unclear’ On Who Would Coach West All-Stars Should Warriors Have Top Record
His dad, Bill Walton, baffles us almost every time he speaks. But Luke Walton makes us scratch our heads in only one regard -- is he, or isn't he, the coach of the Golden State Warriors?
Don't ask the NBA -- they're the least likely to have answers. Walton, who has the interim head coaching tag while Steve Kerr is recovering from back surgery, has led Golden State to a 23-0 record -- the best start in North American pro sports history. But officially, none of those wins are his. According to the NBA's arcane, Harry Potter Marauder's Map rules, the wins go on Kerr's record, because on paper he's officially the head coach.
However, the NBA has also said the Walton is eligible for Coach of the Month and Coach of the Year awards.
However, the NBA has also said that it's not sure what would happen should the Warriors have the best record in the Western Conference heading into the All-Star Game. Would Walton be eligible to be the West head coach? Here's what the league said to the Associated Press:
“At this point, it is unclear when coach Kerr will return to the sidelines,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank told the Associated Press. “We are more than two months away from the All-Star Game, so it feels premature to address that situation.”
As you know, the NBA adopted the Riley Rule in 1991 -- the same coach can't coach an All-Star team in successive seasons (this after Pat Riley coached the West All-Stars eight times in nine seasons from 1982-90). So Kerr is ineligible. But Walton could do it, and should, if the league's ruling on Coach of the Month awards is considered a precedent.
In practical terms, this really means nothing, because the All-Star Game is a glorified pick-up game with uniforms. But it does go to show basic confusion and ineptitude at the NBA front office. Jesus, just make a decision. Here, we'll help.
For the NBA:
-- Decide whether or not Walton is the head coach. If he is, he gets all the perks and honors. If he isn't, he's an assistant who is temporarily in charge. He's eligible for no type of award or recognition. Those all go to Kerr. If Walton is still there at All-Star time, he's the West coach. If not, Popovich (or whomever is No. 2) gets the nod.
My opinion? Walton is the Warriors' head coach, period. If Kerr is well enough to take over at some point, fine. Treat it like you would any other head coach who resigns or is fired mid-season. And Walton is 23-0, not Kerr. It's not that complicated. (Kerr agrees with this, by the way).
For the Warriors:
-- Remove the interim tag: Walton is your head coach. Kerr should officially step down as head coach for the 2015-16 season. Then if he wants to come back to the bench at some point this season, fine, but Walton is still the head coach on paper. Walton is making all the game decisions, running the practices and taking all the criticism (such as it is at this point). Give him the One Ring Of Power and be done with it.
For the fans:
-- The Warriors aren't going undefeated, so relax. My personal belief is that they won't even break the 1971-72 Lakers' record of 33 straight wins. Their goal right now is to get the top seed in the playoffs, and the playoffs are everything. The Spurs are only 5 games back with 59 to go.
Golden State plays at Boston tonight in the fifth game of a grueling seven-game road trip -- the last two games of which are back-to-back. Plus they've got Cleveland on Christmas Day in Oakland and the Mavericks and Rockets back-to-back on the road Dec. 30-31.
If they make it through all of that undefeated, then we'll talk about 73-9 and 82-0 and the grassy knoll and Area 51 and other theories. But let's take this one step at a time.
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