Michael Malone could coach Nikola Jokic in the All-Star game. He may also get a rare chance to train against him.
Malone and the Denver Nuggets staff wrapped up their trip to Salt Lake City for All-Star weekend. In the Feb. 19 game, Malone will coach Team LeBron, the team that LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers is slated to make.
Boston interim coach Joe Mazzulla will coach Team Giannis, the team that will develop Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Malone and the Nuggets staff were locked in on the All-Star tour Wednesday night when Portland beat Memphis. That ensured Denver would have first place in the Western Conference when play is completed on Sunday; Coaches All-Stars are based on which teams have the best record in each conference two weeks prior to the game.
Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone and his staff will coach Team LeBron in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. pic.twitter.com/FFhLXAoxjZ
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) February 2, 2023
“I say it every year and I’ve said it to our players. There are teams dying for the All-Star break and can’t wait to get to Cancun,” Malone said. “No, we’re keeping our eyes on the prize and we’ve got to make sure we play until half-time.”
If Malone was planning to go to Cancun or somewhere else during the break, he would leave Salt Lake City.
Jokic, the Nuggets center and two-time reigning NBA MVP and certainly a candidate for a third straight, is the only Denver player to start. The Nuggets could have more players selected Thursday when the NBA announces seven players from the Eastern and Western Conferences who will be on reserve.
But there’s no guarantee Malone will coach Jokic. That’s up to James and Antetokounmpo; One of them will draft Jokic, and if it’s James, he’ll be with Malone for the game.
Coach Malone and staff travel to Utah. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/i90ie4obkr
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 2, 2023
This is Malone’s second time coaching an All-Star. He coached LeBron’s 178-164 team in place of Tim Giannis in 2019 in Charlotte.
He is one of three coaches to reach the All-Star Game as a Nuggets coach. Larry Brown held the job in 1977 and George Karl in 2010.