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Top NBA assistant gets permission to speak with other teams

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Top NBA assistant gets permission to speak with other teams

The hottest coach through the first half of the NBA season was only 35 years old. His squad finished the year with a 73-9 record, good for best in league history, and is just beginning an all-out assault on the Western Conference playoffs. 

So why is the club allowing him to speak to other teams about job openings? Because he's still only an assistant. 

That's right: Luke Walton, the Warriors' top assistant, officially received permission to explore his options on the coaching market -- after the playoffs, of course. 

Head coach Steve Kerr spoke Monday about rumors that Walton had been in contact with Knicks President Phil Jackson about a potential opening in New York. Via ESPN.com

"We'll give Luke permission, but it would be after a series ended and we have a little spare time, but it's important to note that Phil has not reached out to Luke about the job. That's false. Friendships sometimes dictate conversation, and there was some of that, but nothing to do with the job."

The now-36-year-old has only one prior season of NBA coaching experience, but his accomplishments are hard to ignore.  

Walton took over interim head coaching duties for Golden State from the start of the 2015-16 season until January 22nd, when Kerr returned from a health-related leave of absence. In that span, the second-year assistant guided his team to a 39-4 record, including an NBA record 24-0 start (though league rules officially credit his wins to Kerr). 

Granted, Walton inherited a defending NBA champion whose roster was stocked with once-in-a-generation talent, but he should get some credit for helping his players avoid a post-title slump and handle the pressure of their record-setting pace. 

The Knicks aren't the only ones with reported interest in Walton. ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the Suns may also target him if they decide against keeping interim head coach Earl Watson. 

But it remains to be seen whether any job could entice Walton to leave a potential dynasty in Golden State. After all, he won two NBA championships playing nine seasons with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers -- a dynasty in its own right. 

His father, Hall of Famer Bill Walton, thinks he should stay right where he is. Speaking with For The Win, the elder Walton said his son should never leave the Warriors. 

"I always tell him the same thing: 'Luke, it doesn’t ever get any better than what you have right now.' I was part of three of the greatest teams ever -- UCLA, Portland, the Celtics. I’ve been at the other end of the spectrum too. There are opposite ends of every teeter-totter, so I tell him, “Money can’t buy what you have.” Head coaching jobs, they’re open for a reason. Those reasons don’t exist in Golden State."

There's certainly merit to that argument, but it won't deter teams seeking new head coaches from contacting Walton. Especially if he wins another title this year.

The Wizards have their own job to fill, but are seeking an experienced candidate and are unlikely to consider the Warriors assistant. 

MORE WIZARDS: Crawford's 6th man award reminds us Wizards didn't have one

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Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest. He edged Larry Nance, Jr. of the Cavaliers in the finals.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Saturday Night is here with the three-point contest, dunk contest and skills competition set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

2018 NBA ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

Skills competition

Participants: Lou Williams, Clippers; Jamal Murray, Nuggets; Al Horford, Celtics; Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets; Joel Embiid, Sixers; Buddy Hield, Kings; Lauri Markkanen, Bulls; Andre Drummond, Pistons

What to know: This year's crop has a fascinating mix of guards and big men and don't sleep on the seven-footers. Embiid in particular has a unique skillset for his size. Still, it's tough to beat the guards. Watch out for Dinwiddie, who is the best passer of the bunch.

RELATED: BETTING ODDS FOR DUNK CONTEST, THREE-POINT CONTEST

Three-point contest

Participants: Klay Thompson, Warriors; Eric Gordon, Rockets; Devin Booker, Suns; Paul George, Thunder; Wayne Ellington, Heat; Bradley Beal, Wizards; Kyle Lowry, Raptors; Tobias Harris, Clippers

What to know: Thompson and Gordon enter the contest as past champions, as Thompson won it in 2016 and Gordon took it home last year. Thompson has the best three-point percentage among the group and is the favorite, but watch out for Beal, a past runner-up, and George who has the second best percentage. Also, Booker is one of the game's best young players and has a very smooth stroke from three.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Dunk contest

Participants: Dennis Smith Jr.; Mavericks; Donovan Mitchell, Jazz; Larry Nance Jr., Cavaliers; Victor Oladipo, Pacers

What to know: This is all about the rookies, Smith and Mitchell, who most are predicting to win. Oladipo has been in the contest before, but didn't win. He's also the only All-Star of the bunch. Nance is the only guy who isn't a guard and his father won it back in 1984. It will be interesting to see if he does some sort of nod to his old man, now 34 years later.

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