Reggie Miller, Don Nelson lead Basketball Hall of Fame class

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I’m going to try — to really, really try — not to turn this into a “we need a separate NBA Hall of Fame” rant. Even though we do.

I don’t want to go there because there are some deserving people getting into the Hall of Fame as part of this year’s class. Reggie Miller, for one. Don Nelson is another (but we knew he was in).

So I’m not going to dwell on the fact that Ralph Sampson is going into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame before Bernard King. I’m not. I’m not going to try and dissect the Hall’s voting logic because every year I can’t find it. No. I ‘m just going to try and let it go.

The Hall of Fame announced its class Monday, and there are a couple no brainers at the top of the list.

Reggie Miller deserves it as one of the best pure shooters the game has ever seen. (Even if he might be the second best player in his family.) Miller led the NBA in three point field goals made in a career, was a five-time All-Star and is maybe the most iconic Pacer of All time. Not to pick on the Hall too much, but how is it he wasn’t even a finalist last year and this year he is in? I miss the logic so often with the Hall decisions.

Is it too much to ask to have Spike Lee do Miller’s Hall of Fame introduction? That would win me back over to the Hall’s side fast.

Don Nelson also deserved to be in as the winnestest coach in NBA history and a great innovator of the game. That was a given.

But now we get into why I think there should be an NBA hall — Ralph Sampson is a member of this year’s class. Sampson was one of the most dominant college players of all time (three time Naismith Award winner) and he was a three time NBA All-Star. But his hall status is based on those college years.

Jamaal Wilkes is another guy who gets in for a college and NBA career combined — he was a force for John Wooden at UCLA and then went on to win four NBA titles and made three NBA All-Star games as a member of the Showtime Lakers. His NBA credentials for the Hall are borderline — and this coming from a big fan of his — but once you add in college he gets the nod.

Still the sweetest corner jumper ever, even if you would never let your kid shoot with that form.

Here are the other inductees:

• Chet Walker, the seven-time All-Star swingman of the Sixers (where he won a ring) and Bulls. This is a good call, look at his similarity numbers and you get Kevin McHale then Rick Barry. Good company.

• Mel Daniels, the two-time MVP of the ABA who was a seven-time All-Star and won three rings in that league. All of those chips came with the Pacers — him and Reggie Miller in the same class make this an Indiana event.

• Phil Knight, the founder of Nike.

• Don Barksdale, one of the African-American pioneers in the sport who won a gold medal in 1948 and spent four years in the NBA (two with Boston).

• Hank Nichols, the coordinator of officials for the NCAA for more than 20 years.

• Katrina McClain, the two-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the year.

• The All American Redheads, the first professional women’s basketball team.

• Lidia Alexeeva, long time coach of the Soviet Union’s women’s teams.

Stephen Curry reportedly will return to Warriors lineup Sunday vs. Wizards

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After four months off, the Warriors were looking for a soft landing spot to ease Stephen Curry back into the rotation.

How about Sunday, vs. Washington and the worst defense in the NBA this season?

That’s the plan, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Curry has said for some time he was targeting March 1 for a return, this would be that exact date (to be fair to the Wizards, they have played better defense of late). After that, Golden State plays at Denver on the third, has a Finals rematch against Toronto at the Chase Center on March 5, then the 76ers visit the Warriors on the seventh.

Curry suffered a fractured hand just four games into the season when Suns’ center Aron Baynes fell on him. Recovery required two surgeries, one to put pins in to stabilize the bone through the healing process, then a second one to remove those pins once the recovery was far enough along.

While some fans had called for Curry to sit out the season and tank, Warriors coach Steve Kerr emphatically shot that idea down. As he should.

For one thing, Kerr wants to build some familiarity and chemistry between Curry and newly acquired Andrew Wiggins this season. Having Curry back may mean the Warriors don’t finish with the worst record in the league this season (which they have right now) but with the flattened out draft lottery odds that’s not as big an issue. Besides, this is not a deep draft. This is not a situation where the Warriors will get instant help — in our podcast recently, NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster described it as the top three picks in this draft would be 6-10 most seasons. The Warriors may ultimately try to trade their pick for a player who can help more next season.

Ben Simmons has nerve impingement in lower back, to be re-evaluated in two weeks

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The biggest concern with Ben Simmons back issue is not that it will have him out weeks, it’s that nobody is saying what exactly is causing it.

Simmons has a nerve impingement in his lower back that will have him getting treatment daily, and he will be re-evaluated in two weeks, something first reported  by Shams Charania of The Athletic and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provided some context, but nothing that is very encouraging.

A nerve impingement — what is commonly referred to as a pinched nerve — is exactly what it sounds like: Something is pressing on the nerve, “pinching” it and causing pain.

The big question: What is impinging on the nerve? That’s what Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes asked.

This does not sound like something that is going to be resolved in two weeks and Simmons will be back to normal.

Simmons injured his back last Wednesday in practice while grabbing a rebound, according to coach Brett Brown. Simmons sat out last Thursday’s Sixers game against the Nets, tried to play on Saturday vs. the Bucks but had to come out after one quarter, and has not set foot on the court since.

Simmons averages 16.9 points, 8.3 assists, 7.9 rebounds a game, not to mention a league-best 2.2 steals a night. The All-Star is a core part of the Sixers rotation and will miss significant time they try to climb up into the top four in the East and get home court for the first round of the playoffs. Shake Milton started Monday in Simmons place.

Tilman Ferttita: Rockets don’t fear Lakers, Clippers like they did Warriors

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta
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Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta likes to talk.

Volume 48.

Fertitta, via Kirk Bohls of Statesman:

“I think Milwaukee is head over heels above everybody else,” said Fertitta

“We just need to get home court for the first and second rounds and see what happens.”

“None of us fear L.A. or the Clippers or Denver like we feared Golden State,” he said. “It’s not like how we were scared of them. We could easily win the West this year or get knocked out in the first round. Both L.A. teams, Denver, Houston, we’re all excellent teams. Just comes down to somebody gets hot and makes a shot. Our chances are as good as they’ve ever been.”

The Rockets stood up to the Warriors far more than any other team. But that was most true before Fertitta put his imprint on the franchise. He’s somewhat culpable for Houston cowering to Golden State.

As far as this season, Fertitta is right all around: The Bucks are great, combining last year’s success with important playoff lessons. Houston could easily win the West or lose in the first round. The Lakers, Clippers and Nuggets shouldn’t be feared. (Nobody fears the Nuggets, though they are a real championship contender.)

But the Lakers and Clippers also look like darned good playoff teams. Even if not predicting victory, Fertitta’s comments could become bulletin-board material in Los Angeles.

Rumor: Warriors acquired first-rounder, Andrew Wiggins for Giannis Antetokounmpo trade

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Andrew Wiggins, who's now with Warriors
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The Warriors have the NBA shook.

Even in last place.

It was more understandablenot necessarily right, but understandable – when Golden State was dominating. The Warriors won a title, won 73 games, signed Kevin Durant then won two more titles. In the midst of the run, they were treated as invincible. A team that great had never signed an outside free agent that great. Golden State really did seem “light years ahead.”

So, when the Warriors traded D'Angelo Russell for Andrew Wiggins and picks, some people cowered about what Golden State had up its sleeve next. Speculation even turned to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who faces a super-max decision this offseason and looked quite chummy with Stephen Curry (similar to how Kevin Durant once did while still with the Thunder).

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:

Some around the league believe the Golden State Warriors acquired a first-round pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with Andrew Wiggins, with the notion of a potential future trade with the Bucks.

This is so silly.

Minnesota’s first-rounder (top-three-protected in 2021, unprotected in 2022) is a nice asset. The Warriors’ 2020 first-rounder will also land high in the draft. But Wiggins didn’t suddenly turn into a valuable player in Golden State. Owed $94,738,170 over the next three years, Wiggins still carries negative value. The Warriors aren’t now deftly positioned to land Antetokounmpo.

Golden State showed incredible vision by building an excellent team that appealed to Durant and clearing cap space to acquire him. But the Warriors got multiple fortunate breaks – Stephen Curry taking a smaller contract extension while injured in 2012, Golden State blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals, the salary cap spiking in 2016.

The Warriors can’t duplicate everything, swoop in and land Antetokounmpo.

Sure, it’s possible Wiggins improves in Golden State. Maybe Antetokounmpo will decline to sign a super-max extension, which should force Milwaukee to at least strongly consider trading him. It’s also conceivable Antetokounmpo threatens not to re-sign with anyone besides the Warriors, scaring off other teams and leaving Golden State’s offer the best that the Bucks’ get.

But it’s such a remote possibility of all that happening, it’s not worth worrying about.

This is paranoia about the Warriors at its worst.