Alonzo Mourning, Mitch Richmond reportedly elected to Hall of Fame

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The NBA doesn’t have a Hall of Fame, leaving the duty of honoring its all-time greats to the Basketball Hall of Fame – an organization hung up on honoring players and coaches (way too many coaches) based on accomplishments at lesser levels. Its processes are both screwed up and secretive (though maybe the former will get marginally better).

Advice: Never predict who will be enshrined, and don’t dwell on who should be enshrined. It doesn’t make sense and won’t make sense.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a few moments to honor those elected in what’s still a huge honor. Five former NBA players were finalists this year, and two were reportedly elected.

In:

Out:

Mourning’s career overlapped with a some of the NBA’s all-time great centers: Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal. Mourning might not be in the same class as those four, but he was smaller (6-foot-10, 240 pounds) than them and still held his own, adding to the era’s remarkable pivots rather than falling short of the standard. With a bulldog attitude, Mourning dominated defensively, hit the glass hard and scored strongly inside.

He began his career with the Charlotte Hornets, but when he demanded a huge new contract, they traded him to the Miami Heat. Mourning became the Heat’s first star player, helping to make Miami a cool place to play and possibly laying the groundwork for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to sign there years later.

Multiple times, it appeared kidney disease would end Mourning’s career, and he even retired in 2003. But he retuned to the NBA, and in his second stint with the Heat, he won the 2006 championship as a role player.

Richmond was a pure and dependable scorer, ranking 12th all time with 10 seasons averaging at least 21 points per game. For a while, he and Reggie Miller vied for the title of No. 2 shooting guard in the world behind Michael Jordan.

As a long-range gunner, Richmond was ahead of his time. When Richmond retired, only Dale Ellis, Glen Rice and Reggie Miller had taken more 3-pointers (3,417) and made a higher percentage of them (38.8).

But Richmond never experienced much team-wide success, at least as a major contributor. He won just two playoff series his entire career, one each his rookie and third seasons as a Golden State Warrior. After that, he made the playoffs only once in seven seasons with the Sacramento Kings and never in three seasons with the Washington Wizards. In his final season, 2001-02, Richmond won a championship with the Lakers as a little-used reserved.

Hardaway, Johnson and Hayood could be elected in future seasons. Each had fine careers.

But with the Basketball Hall of Fame, who knows?

Jazz boost international bona fides with new minor-league coach

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.

Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.

Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.

Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.

The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.

Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 with Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

 

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.