Don Nelson’s 2nd tour of duty at Golden State isn’t even 4 months old and he’s already selected his own replacement, writes the Sacramento Bee’s Scott Howard-Cooper.

Nelson has tabbed Keith Smart, his assistant at Golden State and long considered a top bench prospect, to be his successor as the coach of the Warriors, a notable declaration even if it has little actual meaning.

Nelson’s history makes it an important distinction and at the least an early look into a future in Oakland that could still be 2 1/2 seasons away. The last time he designated a replacement years in advance, Avery Johnson was anointed the prodigy in Dallas and, indeed, took over in 2005 when the relationship between Nelson and owner Mark Cuban frayed to the point of disrepair.

Donnie Nelson, Don’s son, was given a similar elevation in stature before that but moved into the front office before Nellie’s departure and remains president of basketball operations.

There is an important difference. Don Nelson was the personnel boss in Dallas and had the power to make coaching decisions, pending ultimate approval from Cuban.

At Golden State, Chris Mullin is the executive vice president of basketball operations and Nelson’s superior, before any decision reaches owner Chris Cohan, but Nelson and Mullin are very close and known to be like-minded on many issues.

“He’s just a natural,” Nelson said of Smart, once the interim coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the pre-LeBron James days. “Kind of like Avery in that respect. He played for Bobby (Knight, at Indiana). He’s got the whole package. And he doesn’t have an ego. Avery has a big ego. Keith doesn’t.”

While the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith is already speculating the Sixers’ new executive VP Larry Brown will soon supplant Maurice Cheeks as Philly coach, the Post’s Marc Berman predicts that that with Brown’s new front office gig, we’ll soon be seeing “weird headlines coming out of the Philly papers on trade rumors. “Sixers eye Trevor Ariza.” “Brown pushes for Earl Watson trade.” “Sixers believe Jackie Butler is the answer.”

Kevin Garnett (above) scored 26 points and Ricky Davis drained 4 three-pointers in Minnesota’s 103-99 defeat of Houston earlier today, the T-Wolves’ 4th consecutive win. In a barely related story, I Heart KG links to news of some new KG signature kicks. They seem snazzy enough, but they’re not Melvins shoes.

The New York Post’s Peter Vescey on a recent experiment in NBA broadcasting.

Charles Barkley waddled out of the TNT studio Thursday night and served as off-color analyst for the Lakers’ delayed, 132-128, liquidation of the Kings in OT.

It marked the first time in Sacramento someone had less of a command of the language than the governor.