Gregg Popovich, not Luke Walton, is NBA All-Star coach

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» Thu Jan 28, 2016 9:08 am
By Rusty Simmons Updated 8:18 pm, Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Warriors found out Wednesday that they won’t have a coach in the All-Star Game this season, but they’re hoping to add two more players to the showcase event when the reserves are announced Thursday.

Power forward Draymond Green and shooting guard Klay Thompson are widely expected to be among the Western Conference’s seven-man bench when the coaches’ selections are announced. Point guard Stephen Curry was chosen by the fans to start.

On Wednesday, the league named San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich the West head coach after considering Warriors assistant Luke Walton. The head coach with the best record in each conference after Sunday’s games gets to coach in the All-Star Game, except that the NBA doesn’t allow a coach to participate in consecutive seasons.

Steve Kerr, who was the West’s head coach in 2015, returned to the bench Friday after Walton led the Warriors to a 39-4 record while Kerr was recovering from two back surgeries and a spinal-fluid leak. Walton’s record is credited officially to Kerr, and the Spurs (39-7) clinched the next-best record in the West, putting Popovich in line to coach his fourth All-Star Game.

“We all got to coach it last year, and even though Luke wasn’t the head coach, he was on the staff and was there,” Kerr said. “The rule is the rule. Maybe we’ll get to go back next year.”

Kerr said it took him about 15 minutes to make his picks for All-Star reserves, a list that he described as including six “simple” selections and one that could have gone to a “handful of guys.” Kerr said he doesn’t politick with other coaches to send his players, but he’s hoping the Warriors’ performance makes the case for Green and Thompson.

“With our record, I would hope that we get three guys,” Kerr said. “I think Draymond is automatic. I mean, I’d be shocked if Draymond were left off. I think Klay will be in the mix with some other great guards. That’s where it gets tricky, and you can make a case for a lot of people.”

The coaches are instructed to vote for two guards, three frontcourt players and two wild-card selections from any position. The frontcourt choices are expected to be Green, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis.

Houston’s James Harden and the Clippers’ Chris Paul are generally considered locks at the two guard positions, which would leave Thompson vying for one of two wild-card spots among a loaded group that includes Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, Utah’s Derrick Favors, the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Utah’s Gordon Hayward, the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Sacramento’s Rajon Rondo.

“I expect a couple of us to be there, because of the year we’re having,” Thompson said. “Obviously, Steph and Draymond, for sure. … We’ll see.”

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