Gary Payton, two-thirds of Run TMC lead Hall of Fame finalists

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It’s time for The Glove to be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Gary Payton — one of the greatest point guards of his generation, a defensive force, a nine-time All-Star and the face of Seattle Sonics basketball (with all due respect to Jack Sikma) — is the leader of the finalists for the Hall of Fame class of 2013.

Payton told ProBasketballTalk that this was not something he expected growing up in Oakland.

“It’s showing a lot of people have respected the things I’ve done in basketball and it’s showing I’ve done a lot in basketball,” Payton said. “And I’m really happy for it. Not a lot of people can get in the Hall of Fame, it’s a great honor. I hope that I can make it.”

The rest of the finalists include two-thirds of the Warriors Run TMC from the 1990s (and the other guy is already in) plus a Knicks legend who deserves it. There is another round of voting to pare this group down, with the class of 2013 to be announced Final Four weekend in April. The enshrinement happens in September.

In addition to Payton the finalists are:

• Bernard King. The Knicks swingman was one of the greatest pure scorers of all time. He averaged 22.5 points per game during a 15-year career and had some monster playoff runs, like 1984 when he averaged 34.8 points per game. More than that or the four All-Star games or two All-NBA First Teams, it was his influence on a lot of players coming up that matters. Seriously, this guy needs to be in. That he’s not is just wrong.

• Mitch Richmond. He was one third of Golden State’s Run TMC with Chris Mullen (already in the Hall) and fellow nominee Tim Hardaway. Richmond could score averaging 21 points a game for his career, was a six-time All-Star and has a gold medal.

• Tim Hardaway. The standard against which all other crossovers are judged. He won a gold medal and was a five-time All-Star as part of Run TMC in the Bay Area.

• Maurice Cheeks. The great Philadelphia Sixers guard (and current Oklahoma City Thunder assistant) is a four time NBA All-Star, was named to the NBA All-Defensive team four times, and won an NBA ring.

• Spencer Haywood. One of the more graceful big men of all time, he is a four-time All star, plus has both an NBA championship ring and a gold medal.

• Others on the list of finalists include college coaches Jerry Tarkanian, Guy Lewis (University of Houston and Phi Slamma Jamma) and Rick Pitino (don’t tell Celtics fans he was an NBA coach, they’ll deny it). Also Celtics coach Tom Heinsohn, already in as a player, is nominated as a coach because he won two titles as the head man for the Celtics.

The two women nominated are Dawn Staley (three time Gold Medalist and five time WNBA All Star) and Sylvia Hatchell (North Carolina women’s coach).

Also voted in for sure are Roger Brown (a four time ABA All-Star), Richie Guerin (the feisty six-time All-Star guard for the Knicks), Brazilian legend Oscar Schmidt (he should have been in already), Russ Granik (David Stern’s former right hand man), and George Raveling for a lifetime achievement award.

Report: Magic’s search firm inquiring about Larry Bird

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Larry Bird resigned as Pacers president.

Not just today, but also in 2012. A year later, he was again running a front office (Indiana’s).

Could he make an even quicker leap back into NBA team presidency – with the Magic?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This strikes me as more as Orlando’s search firm trying to prove its usefulness than a viable option.

Whether they’re trying to generate excitement, getting used for leverage or actually serious, the Magic keep getting linked to big-name replacements for the fired Rob HenniganDoc Rivers, David Griffin and now Bird. If the Magic are willing to pay major money for name recognition, they could get plenty of people to at least listen. But I’m unconvinced about that spending.

It’d be a little weird for Bird to inherit Frank Vogel, whom Bird fired as the Pacers’ coach. But Bird did everything he could to show that was more about seeking change than losing faith in Vogel.

Report: Larry Bird stepping down as Pacers president

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Larry Bird put his stamp on the Pacers in the last year –  firing Frank Vogel and trading for Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young to join hand-picked Monta Ellis and Myles Turner as Paul George‘s supporting cast on an up-tempo, offensively dynamic team.

The plan fell flat.

Indiana played at a below-average pace and produced a middling offense. The Pacers got swept by the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.

Now, Indiana’s uncertain future – with Paul George a year from free agency and the Lakers courting – gets even more chaotic.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Bird had already resigned once as Pacers president, in 2012. He returned the following year.

Bird’s patience and pain tolerance for the job due to lingering back issues from his playing days has long seemed to waver. I wouldn’t write him off for good.

Indiana promoted Kevin Pritchard in 2012, when Bird previously stepped down. Pritchard previously worked as the Trail Blazers’ general manager, and he’s a qualified replacement.

The work begins immediately with a decision on George. If he doesn’t make an All-NBA team, the Pacers won’t gain as much financial advantage in his contract offer. That could open the door to a trade and rebuilding around Turner — or making a last-ditch push to convince George he can win in Indiana.

Report: Clippers expect Chris Paul to re-sign

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Chris Paul reportedly verbally committed months ago to re-sign with the Clippers. There have been mixed signals about Blake Griffin‘s intention to re-sign.

But they can’t formalize the deals until July, and the Clippers are now one game from another demoralizing first-round exit.

Where do they stand now?

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

Sources close to the Clippers say that they expect Paul to re-sign with the Clippers. He’ll be eligible for a five-year contract in excess of $200 million. Griffin’s return is less certain, sources say. This summer is his first foray into unrestricted free agency. Given his snakebitten tenure with the team and the possibility of another early exit, the prospect of exploring what’s out there will be alluring. One premise volunteered in good humor suggests that Paul is more likely to take a slew of meetings in a public process but ultimately re-sign with the Clippers, while Griffin is more likely to mull the decision privately under the guise of night, but announce he’ll be playing elsewhere in 2017-18.

Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers has made clear his desire to re-sign Paul and Griffin, and the playoffs won’t change that. This is the right call. It’s so difficult to assemble a team this good, the Clippers shouldn’t throw it away for the sake of change. Just because the Clippers haven’t gotten the breaks in previous seasons doesn’t mean they won’t get the breaks in future seasons.

But Paul and Griffin – and J.J. Redick, who’ll also be an unrestricted free agent – will determine the franchise’s fate. If they want to leave, they’ll leave.

Can the Clippers lure them back? They apparently think they’ll keep Paul, but there’s an uncertain dynamic in L.A. that Arnovitz explores in great depth. I highly recommend reading his full piece.

Nike, Adidas, Under Armour pass on potential No. 1 pick Lonzo Ball

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NBA teams reportedly aren’t dinging potential No. 1 pick Lonzo Ball over all the wild stuff his dad says and does.

Shoe companies are apparently taking a different approach.

Darren Rovell of ESPN:

An endorsement deal with Nike, Under Armour or Adidas is not in the cards for Lonzo Ball.

Ball’s father LaVar confirmed that the three shoe and apparel companies informed him that they were not interested in doing a deal with his son. Sources with the three companies told ESPN.com that they indeed were moving on.

In his meetings with the three, LaVar insisted that the company license his upstart Big Baller Brand from him. He also showed the companies a shoe prototype that he hoped would be Lonzo’s first shoe.

“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”

“Just imagine how rich Tiger (Woods), Kobe (Bryant), Serena (Williams), (Michael) Jordan and LeBron (James) would have been if they dared to do their own thing,” LaVar said. “No one owned their own brand before they turned pro. We do and I have three sons so it’s that much more valuable.”

Is there more upside in this approach? Yeah, I guess.

But the traditional shoe companies bring valuable infrastructure and experience. There’s value in forfeiting upside for those resources. Lonzo Ball, who has yet to play in the NBA, is also missing out on guaranteed life-changing money.

On the risk-reward curve, this seems like a mistake.