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Gary Payton, Bulls owner Reinsdorf among Hall of Fame nominees


The Glove belongs in The Hall.

And it could happen. The list of nominees for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame were released on Monday and Payton is among them for the first time. So was Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, as well as returning guys like Bernard King who should be in. Of course, it’s never that simple with the Hall of Fame, which is an international hall of which the NBA is only part.

Everybody on the nominee list goes before a nine-person panel and if they get seven yes votes move on to the finalist stage (who makes the cut is announced All-Star Weekend in Houston). A group of 24 writers makes the final votes later, the list of guys getting in comes out in April. has the full list of nominees (and we list them below) but here are a few highlights:

• Gary Payton: Best remembered from his years in Seattle, The Glove is one of the best guards of his generation, a guy who gave you 16.3 points and 6.7 assists a game over the course of his career, but it was the defense on the other end of the floor that made his reputation. He is a nine-time All-Star, was the 1996 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and got a ring as a member of the 2006 Miami Heat. He should be in (but don’t be shocked if it takes more than one year).

• Jerry Reinsdorf: The long-time owner of the Chicago Bulls has six NBA Championships on his resume. He got that while running a very profitable business — the Bulls were never one of the NBA’s biggest spending teams and in an era when other owners lived outside their means then complained about how hard it was to make money, Reinsdorf turned a profit. He has been influential among NBA owners.

• Bernard King: Please, put this man in the Hall. It’s time. He’s been up five times and the fact one of the games great scorers is not in the Hall is a travesty. He averaged 22.5 points per game over the course of his career and that peaked at 32.9 for the Knicks in 1985.

For fun, here is King dropping 60 on the Nets.

• Russ Granik, who spent 22 years as the No. 2 guy at the NBA league offices. You remember him as the guy who announced the second round before Adam Silver did.

• Vlade Divac: He was nominated by the International Committee. Look, if this were an NBA-only Hall of Fame (and there should be one of those, but that’s another rant) Divac wouldn’t make it. Although, Lakers fans would like him to because he was the centerpiece of the draft day trade that brought them Kobe Bryant. Anyway, if you are talking about international players who change the flow of guys to the NBA, Divac should be on the list and maybe a Hall member.

• Oscar Schmidt. While we are listing international guys, this Brazilian legend is a no-brainer for the Hall. He visited Team USA practice this year and you should have seen the Team USA guys bend over backward to shake his hand.

Here is the full list if nominees, via Scott Howard-Cooper at

From North America: John Bach, Dick Bavetta, Gene Bess, Maurice Cheeks, Jack Curran, Bobby Dandridge, Lefty Driesell, Bill Fitch, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Travis Grant, Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Robert Hughes, Kevin Johnson, Marques Johnson, Gene Keady, Guy Lewis, Danny Miles, William (Speedy) Morris, Dick Motta, Curly Neal, Payton, Rick Pitino, Mitch Richmond, Paul Silas, Eddie Sutton, Jerry Tarkanian, Rudy Tomjanovich, Paul Westphal, Gary Williams.

From the ABA: Zelmo Beatty, Ron Boone, Roger Brown, Mack Calvin, Louie Dampier, Bob (Slick) Leonard, George McGinnis.

Contributors (off the court guys): Al Attles, Marty Blake, Harry Glickman, Del Harris, Red Klotz, Jerry Krause, Johnny Most, Gene Shue, Donnie Walsh.

51 Questions: Do the Phoenix Suns finally have a playoff formula?

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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

Do the Phoenix Suns finally have a playoff formula?

It has been five years since the Phoenix Suns made the playoffs, tying the franchise record for longest playoff drought. It’s the fourth longest active drought in the NBA (Timberwolves at 11, Kings at nine, and Pistons at six).

Think about it this way: The Magic, Sixers, and Jazz have been to the playoffs more recently than the Suns.

Phoenix hasn’t bottomed out on a rebuild, they’ve actually been pretty good — they surprised everyone and won 48 games two seasons ago, then had 39 wins last season when things went very wrong and injuries crushed the team after the All-Star break. However, in a deep Western Conference pretty good isn’t good enough.

Suns management and ownership wants that to change. They want back in the playoff dance. Now.

It’s why they went hard after LaMarcus Aldridge this summer, coming in a surprising second to a Spurs team that nobody was likely to catch in that chase.

This summer the Suns made other moves to address needs. They went out and got Tyson Chandler as a free agent. The first reaction was he was there to provide a shot blocking and defensive quarterbacking, two things the Suns sorely lacked. However, just as importantly, they needed a vocal locker room leader, a vacuum that was part of the problem in Phoenix’s implosion last season.

The Suns also needed shooting, they went out and got Mirza Teletovic and drafted Devin Booker.

It’s easy to think the Suns regressed because they lost a lot of talent since the last trade deadline — Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, Brandan Wright — but they believe the pieces they have now fit together better.

Phoenix believes it can make the playoffs; it thinks it finally has the right formula.

Maybe. They will be in the mix. But a four things have to happen to make that a reality.

First is Chandler has to lead a defensive renaissance on this team. Last season they were average, 17th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, but Chandler can help change that. First, he gives them defensive rebounding that they lacked. He gives them a quarterback that they needed to call things out and have everyone on the same page (reports of how he talks on defense are already pouring out of camp). And he helps protects the paint — that means Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and P.J. Tucker can pressure the ball more and take risks out on the perimeter knowing Chandler can erase some mistakes.

The second is an obvious one: Bledsoe and Knight need to be able to work well together. They are going to share playmaking duties, and both are going to spend time working off the ball, both need to be ready for that mental adjustment. We haven’t seen that much yet, we need to see how it works out.

Third, there needs to be shooting to space the floor. Bledsoe is a penetrator who is a career 32 percent from three, while Knight shot just 31.3 percent from three after being traded to the Suns (likely due to ankle injuries that required off-season surgery). Those two men will be running the pick-and-roll with Chandler, who sets a good pick, rolls hard and can finish, but doesn’t have shooting range. The Suns other two starters are likely P.J. Tucker, who is not a huge threat from three but shot a respectable 34.5 percent from there last season, and Markieff Morris, who is a career 32.8 percent from three.

If I’m an opposing defense, what’s to keep me from going under picks and packing the lane against the Suns? Phoenix needs Knight to return to the guy who is a career 36 percent from three, they need Morris to improve from the outside, and they need guys like Teletovic and Booker to play key minutes and space the floor at times.

Fourth, and finally, they need the potentially volatile mixture of an unhappy Morris and a coach in Jeff Hornacek in the last year of his contract not to combust. Everyone is saying all the right things at the start of camp, and this is why guys like Chandler and Ronnie Price were brought in, but there is the potential for things to go sideways, especially if some early losses pile up.

The biggest hurdle for the Suns in ending their playoff drought is they are in the Western Conference.

Even if all four of things mentioned above go right for them — if they run and hit more threes plus play better defense — this is likely a 45 win team (give or take a few, and probably take). The problem is that in the West that may not be enough. Barring injuries, there are likely seven lock playoff teams in the West — Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Rockets, Thunder, Grizzlies, and Pelicans. That leaves the Suns battling teams such as the Jazz, Mavericks and maybe the Kings for that final playoff spot. It may take more than 45 wins, and things are going to have to break the Suns’ way to get there.

Maybe Robert Sarver gets his way and the playoff drought ends this season, it’s more likely than snow in Phoenix this winter. But I wouldn’t bet much on either happening.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.