David Stern, Alonzo Mourning, Mitch Richmond head 2014 Naismith Hall of Fame class

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What had been rumored for nearly a week became official on Monday:

Alonzo Mourning and Mitch Richmond have been elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hall’s selection committee made the formal announcement on Monday. They will join former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who had already been announced as directly elected to the Hall for his contributions to the game.

Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood and Kevin Johnson did not make the cut. Ugh.

Mourning was a seven-time All-Star and an NBA champion (2006 Heat) who held his own at both ends of the floor against some legendary centers of his era — Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal. He was particularly known for his defense, twice being named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, also twice he finished in the top three in MVP voting. Mourning played 15 NBA seasons (11 in Miami) averaging 17 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Also remember he was an All-American at Georgetown.

Richmond was a shooter ahead of his time — in an era when the three ball was not as prevalent he was a sniper from deep. He also could put it on the floor and get to the rim, which is why he averaged 21 points a game or more for 10 consecutive seasons. He was part of the Warriors’ “Run TMC” years with Chris Mullin (already in the Hall of Fame) and Hardaway (who should be). Richmond went on to be a six-time NBA All-Star, won an NBA title (2002 Lakers) and an Olympic Gold Medal (1996).

Both of those guys are deserving. So is Hardaway, but that just leads to another discussion of why there needs to be a separate NBA Hall of Fame.

David Stern should be in any Hall — while he was a lightning rod of controversy he also left an indelible imprint on the NBA in his 30 years as commissioner. Stern understood marketing and was able to help sell the brands of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and others to raise the NBA’s status (and profits for team owners) to new heights. Putting him in the Hall was a given.

Others elected or directly voted in are:

Nolan Richardson. The famed “40 minutes of hell” coach of Arkansas who led that team to three Final Four trips and the 1994 NCAA title.

Gary Williams. He coached Maryland for 21 seasons, leading them to 11 NCAA Tournaments and the 2002 national championship.

Bob Leonard. “Slick” was the winningest coach in the history of the ABA, leading the Pacers to three ABA titles.

Nat Clifton. One of the first African Americans to sign in the NBA, he averaged 10 points a game over an eight year NBA career.

Sarunas Marciulionis. The Lithuanian was the first player from the Soviet Union to play in the NBA (back then Lithuania was still part of the Soviet Union). In his seven NBA seasons, Marciulionis averaged 12.8 points and 1.3 steals per game. He also had big numbers in Europe and the European Championships.

Guy Rogers. He was a four time NBA All-Star in the 1960s, and he also lifted Temple to the NCAA Final Four in the 1950s.

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

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David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

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I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.

Report: Knicks to discuss coaching vacancy with Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer

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Mike Budenholzer is restless in Atlanta, seeing a rebuild coming and looking at other jobs (something Hawks management is fine with). He went down the road a ways with the Suns before pulling out of that process, but he’s still looking around.

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their search, talking to virtually everyone looking for coaching jobs.

So, this seemed inevitable, right? Budenholzer and the Knicks are going to talk, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will be very preliminary. The Knicks have already had some level of conversation with Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, David Blatt, Mike Woodson, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (Jackson and Fizdale are the rumored early leaders). Budenholzer has established a style and culture in Atlanta, giving the franchise a path forward. New York could certainly use that.

However, the Knicks job comes with real challenges, too. That starts with James Dolan as owner and the erratic, at times paranoid culture he has created there. Also, expectations in New York are always high, but the team will be without Kristaps Porzigis for at least half (maybe all) of the upcoming season as he recovers from an ACL injury, and that puts a ceiling on the team in the short term. Is all that worth leaving Atlanta for?

 

Stephen Curry to begin “modified” practices with Warriors

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Golden State has flipped the switch in the first round, going up 3-0 on overmatched San Antonio. The Warriors have been outscoring the Spurs by 20.2 points per 100 possessions in the series, allowing less than a point per possession on defense and scoring when and where they want. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.3 points per game, Klay Thompson is shooting 63.3 percent from three and scoring 25.7 points per game, and the Warriors are clicking.

But they are not yet whole — they need Stephen Curry back. Not for this round, but before the Western Conference Finals for sure.

Curry was re-evaluated Friday and will begin practicing with the team in a limited — or “modified” to use the team’s term — way.

The target has always been a return somewhere during the second round, and that still seems to be on track. That is also a little faster than traditional for a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which can take up to two months to heal (not the 4-6 weeks of the Warriors timeline), but the Warriors are being cautious here for now.

Eventually, the Warriors will need him back — their offense is built around Curry and his ball movement and movement off the ball. Curry’s gravity to draw defenders, even when he doesn’t have the ball, opens up the floor for others. Put simply, if he’s 28 feet from the bucket on the weak side defenders still have to watch and be near him, and help defenders need to be aware, which pulls the defense to wherever he is. Without Curry and the Warriors take more midrange jumpers, it’s just in the first round series against the Spurs they are hitting them.