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Hall of Fame basically says Tracy McGrady never won a playoff series, also nominates Ben Wallace and Muggsy Bogues

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The Basketball Hall of Fame altered its eligibility rules last year – allowing players to be nominated four, rather than five, years after their last game.

But Tracy McGrady’s last NBA game came just three years ago. He signed with the Spurs on the final day of the 2012-13 regular season, didn’t play in the finale, but played spot minutes in San Antonio’s Finals run.

His last regular-season game was four years ago, though. Apparently, that’s good enough for the Hall.

McGrady joins Ben Wallace and Muggsy Bogues as first-time nominees for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

By nominating McGrady this year, the Hall essentially ruled his time with the Spurs didn’t count. Why are those 31 playoff minutes significant? That was the only time McGrady won a playoff series. An excellent regular-season player, that complete lack of postseason success will hinder his candidacy. When teams clamped down, McGrady had no answer.

Still, I’d lean toward enshrining McGrady. He made seven All-NBA teams while carrying a huge offensive burden and maintaining efficiency (again, during the regular season).

I’d also lean toward inducting Wallace, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year. His peak is undervalued. At his best, he was the NBA’s third-best player behind Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. (Shaquille O’Neal was between stretches of motivation, and Kobe Bryant hadn’t yet learned how to lead a team.) Though 16 NBA seasons is a nice run, too many of those after his prime were underwhelming.

Bogues? A 5-foot-3 player flourishing in the NBA is a tremendous accomplishment. But there’s a reason he’s getting his first nomination 15 years after retirement. He’s not close to Hall-of-Fame caliber.

Here’s the full list of nominees:

NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017 BALLOT

* Indicates First-Time Nominee

North American Committee Nominations

  • Mark Aguirre (PLA)
  • Geese Ausbie (PLA)
  • Bill Bertka (COA)
  • Muggsy Bogues (PLA)*
  • Junior Bridgeman (PLA)
  • Irv Brown (REF)
  • Maurice Cheeks (PLA)
  • Terry Cummings (PLA)
  • Charles “Lefty” Driesell (COA)
  • Hugh Evans (REF)
  • Bill Fitch (COA)
  • Cotton Fitzsimmons (COA)
  • Tim Hardaway (PLA)
  • Del Harris (COA)
  • Robert Hughes (COA)
  • Kevin Johnson (PLA)
  • Marques Johnson (PLA)
  • Bobby Jones (PLA)
  • Jerry “Tiger” Jones (COA)
  • Gene Keady (COA)
  • Rollie Massimino (COA)
  • Tracy McGrady (PLA)*
  • Gary McKnight (COA)
  • Danny Miles (COA)
  • Sidney Moncrief (PLA)
  • Dick Motta (COA)
  • Swen Nater (PLA)
  • Jake O’Donnell (REF)*
  • Jim Phelan (COA)*
  • Mark Price (PLA)
  • Jere Quinn (COA)*
  • Glenn Robinson (COA)
  • Lee Rose (COA)
  • Bo Ryan (COA)
  • Bob Saulsbury (COA)*
  • Bill Self (COA)*
  • Jack Sikma (PLA)
  • Steve Smith (COA)
  • Fred Snowden (COA)
  • Harry Statham (COA)*
  • Eddie Sutton (COA)
  • Rudy Tomjanovich (COA)
  • Ben Wallace (PLA)*
  • Chris Webber (PLA)
  • Paul Westphal (PLA)

Women’s Committee Nominations

  • Leta Andrews (COA)
  • Jennifer Azzi (PLA)
  • Rebecca Lobo (PLA)
  • Muffet McGraw (COA)
  • Susie McConnell (PLA)
  • Pearl Moore (PLA)
  • Kim Mulkey (COA, PLA)
  • Harley Redin (COA)
  • Theresa Shank (PLA)
  • Marianne Stanley (COA)
  • Barbara Stevens (COA)
  • Wayland Baptist (TEA)
  • Therea Weatherspoon (PLA)

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY Early African-American Pioneers Committee Nominations

  • Clarence “Puggy” Bell
  • Sonny Boswell
  • Zack Clayton
  • Chuck Cooper
  • Bill Garrett
  • Inman Jackson
  • Clarence “Fats” Jenkins
  • Bucky Lew
  • Davage “Dave” Minor
  • Hudson Oliver
  • Al “Runt” Pullins
  • James “Pappy” Ricks
  • Paul Robeson
  • Eyre Saitch
  • William “Wee Willie” Smith

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY International Committee Nominations

  • Tal Brody
  • Jackie Chazalon
  • Vlade Divac
  • Nick Galis
  • Semen Khalipski
  • Vladimir Kondrashin
  • Toni Kukoc
  • Marcos Leite
  • Aldo Ossola
  • Amaury Pasos
  • Dino Radja
  • Manuel Sainz
  • Togo Soares
  • Ranko Zeravica

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY Contributor Committee Nominations

  • Marv Albert
  • Al Attles
  • Dick Baumgartner*
  • Marty Blake
  • Vic Bubas
  • Wayne Duke
  • David Falk*
  • Harry Glickman
  • Marty Glickman
  • Curt Gowdy
  • Tim Grgurich
  • Robert Indiana*
  • Mannie Jackson
  • Tom Jernstedt
  • Johnny “Red” Kerr
  • John Kline
  • Red Klotz
  • Jerry Krause
  • Bobby Lewis*
  • Jack McCloskey
  • Johnny Most
  • Dennis Murphy
  • Joe O’Toole
  • Billy Packer
  • Dee Rowe*
  • Zelda Spoelstra
  • Jim Valvano
  • Donnie Walsh
  • Frank Walsh

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY Veterans Committee Nominations

  • 1936 US Olympic Team (TEA)
  • 1964 State Department Basketball Ambassadors (TEA)
  • Ron Boone (PLA)
  • Sid Borgia (REF)*
  • Carl Braun (PLA)
  • Frank Brian (PLA)
  • Joe Caldwell (PLA)
  • Mack Calvin (PLA)
  • Charles Eckman (REF)
  • Leroy Edwards (PLA)
  • Leo Ferris (CONT)
  • Clarence “Bevo” Francis (PLA)
  • Buck Freeman (COA)
  • Donnie Freeman (PLA)
  • Travis Grant (PLA)
  • Bob Grody (PLA)
  • Robert Harrison (PLA)
  • Flo Harvey (PLA)
  • Dick Hemric (PLA)*
  • Cam Henderson (COA)
  • Robert Hopkins (PLA)
  • Lou Hudson (PLA)
  • Warren Jabali (PLA)
  • Jimmy Jones (PLA)
  • Charles Kenaith (PLA)*
  • Freddie Lewis (PLA)
  • Jim Loscutoff (PLA)
  • Loyola of Chicago (TEA)
  • Billy Markward (CONT)*
  • George McGinnis (PLA)
  • Ray Mears (COA)*
  • Francis Meehan (PLA)
  • Donald “Dudey” Moore (COA)
  • Willie Naulls (PLA)
  • Philadelphia SPHAS (TEA)
  • Mel Riebe (PLA)
  • Glenn Roberts (PLA)
  • Holcombe Rucker (CONT)
  • Kenny Sailors (PLA)
  • Fred Schaus (PLA)*
  • Charlie Scott (PLA)
  • Kenny Sears (PLA)
  • Frank Selvy (PLA)
  • George Senesky (PLA)
  • Paul Seymour (PLA)
  • Charles Siler (CONT)
  • Talvin Skinner (PLA)
  • Ken Suesens (PLA)
  • Tennessee A&I (TEA)
  • Dick Van Arsdale (PLA)
  • Tom Van Arsdale (PLA)
  • Willie Wise (PLA)
  • Max Zaslofsky (PLA)

Reports: Phil Jackson attending Shaq statue ceremony, Magic Johnson missing it to scout UCLA-Kentucky

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The Lakers are formally unveiling Shaquille O’Neal’s statue outside their arena tonight. Also tonight: UCLA-Kentucky in the Sweet 16, which features NBA prospects Lonzo Ball, Ike Anigbogu, T.J. Leaf, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo.

That makes an interesting choice for the NBA’s two highest-profile team presidents – the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and Knicks’ Phil Jackson (who coached Shaq in Los Angeles), both of whose teams are headed toward a high picks in the upcoming draft.

And the front-office heads are going different directions.

Arash Markazi of ESPN:

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Watching a single game in person is unlikely to swing anything. Both Johnson and Jackson could send scouts to watch UCLA-Kentucky live and then the presidents could watch video later.

But attending in person is ideal, and there are already questions about Jackson’s work ethic. This will only fuel them.

If nothing else, this is an opportunity for Johnson, new on the job, to establish an image. He can clearly juxtapose himself with the failing Jackson and establish himself as a diligent alternative. The Lakers hired Johnson at least in part due to his high profile, but that needn’t stop him from grinding now that he has the position. Anyone doubting him would respect that.

Tyreke Evans: Giannis Antetokounmpo is like a taller me

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Giannis Antetokounmpo torched the Kings for 32 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and two steals in the Bucks’ 18-point win Wednesday.

Afterward, Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans paid the Greek Freak the ultimate compliment.

Sean Cunningham of ABC 10:

Do you see many players like Antetokounmpo? Evans:

Nah. He like me, but 6-7 – I mean like almost 6-8, 6-7, whatever height he is. He just long, athletic. He get to where he want to go. He got good handle for his size, and he athletic. Once he get around the rim, he can finish.

If only you were an inch taller? Evans:

That’d be a problem. I mean, it’s still a problem, I think, for me to get where I want. But just the athleticism he have and the way he get up off the ground – he got quick bounce. He pretty good at it.

Antetokounmpo is listed at 6-foot-11, Evans 6-foot-6.

This isn’t totally unreasonable. Make Evans five inches taller and add none of the dexterity awkwardness that tends to accompany growth, and he might look a lot like Antetokounmpo. Both are usually slotted at forward while possessing point-guard skills.

But Evans isn’t 6-foot-11, and most 6-foot-11 players can’t move like Antetokounmpo. That fluidity for his size is a big part of what makes Antetokounmpo special. If Evans grew up to be 6-foot-11, he likely would have developed a different skill set than he has now.

Antetokounmpo is the rare player with both the height of a big man and skills of a guard. Evans didn’t miss out on that just because his genes kept him from growing another five inches.

This discussion is also silly for another reason. Somewhere, there’s someone who’s 6-foot-1 and certain he’d be as good as Evans if only he were five inches taller.

Rumor: Blake Griffin increasingly believed to be open to leaving Clippers in free agency

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The Clippers were rumored to have already verbally agreed to terms with pending unrestricted free agents Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

But with formal contract extensions unviable, L.A. was always going to have to play out the season and hope those players remained committed into July.

There might be a hitch in that plan.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

That Griffin would also stay and reap the biggest payday he can seems likely, too—in theory. But more and more people around the league believe he would be open to a fresh start—perhaps with the Lakers or the Boston Celtics, who have coveted Griffin for years and would offer a new chance to win.

Does Ding have credible information to suggest Griffin could join the Lakers or Celtics, or is that just speculation on the writer’s part about potential fits? It’s unclear. This is already fairly loosely sourced.

But we should gather more information quickly once free agency begins. Griffin reportedly planned to re-sign quickly. If he shows the faintest hint of exploring the market, that could open the floodgates.

Griffin had been frequently linked to his home-state Thunder, but Oklahoma City would interfere with his burgeoning Hollywood connections.* The same issue would exist with Boston, though obviously not the Lakers. That said, the Celtics are WAY better than the Lakers – and maybe soon the Clippers and Thunder, considering those Nets picks headed to Boston.

*Oklahoma City also since nuked its cap space with contract extensions for Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo, though trades could always clear room if Griffin wants to come home.

The Clippers are in a bad place right now. One one hand, that forebodes another disappointing end to the season. On the other hand, there’s still time to overcome and send Griffin into free agency on a more positive note.

These are dangerous times for the Clippers, who wouldn’t have cap space to adequately replace Griffin, Paul or Redick if one leaves. So, if one bolts, the others seems more likely to follow. Interpersonal relationships matter, but the Clippers’ primary selling points were always going to be money and winning (with Hollywood proximity a bonus). Winning gets harder if talent walks.

They can still offer the most money, and they’re not leaving L.A. But the Clippers better win more to help avoid what could be a tenser-than-expected summer.

Suns use youngest starting lineup in NBA history

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The Suns have shut down their veterans or been shut down by their veterans with two goals in mind – developing young talent and tanking.

Incidentally, Phoenix also made history.

Against the Nets last night, the Suns started:

ESPN:

Elias on ESPN:

The previous youngest was the Clippers’ starting five consisting of guards Eric Bledsoe and Eric Gordon, forwards Al-Farouq Aminu and Blake Griffin, and center DeAndre Jordan, who averaged 21 years and 143 days old in a matchup with the Nets on November 15, 2010.

The young Suns gained quality experience – and helped their team to an important loss, 126-98 to Brooklyn.

Phoenix is still 1.5 games “behind” the Lakers for the No. 2 seed in the lottery, but the Suns are within striking distance in case the Lakers screw up and win too much down the stretch.