This year it was a strong Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class — Gary Payton was a lock, Bernard King should have been there long ago, Oscar Schmidt was a given for the international game.
Now, what about next year?
The list is just not as strong, at least not to my eyes. But here are three guys you can make a case for:
Chris Webber. He averaged 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds a game over a 15 year NBA career. He was the 1994 Rookie of the Year, a five time All-Star, All NBA First Team once (and three more times on the second team). He and the Fab Five had a famed college career that helped change the game, then in the NBA he was a very good player that led some very good Sacramento teams. To me, Webber is not a lock Hall of Famer, and likely doesn’t get in on the first ballot, but he’s a guy with a good enough resume you need to discuss him.
Tim Hardaway. Part of the legendary Run TMC in Golden State, Hardaway is a five-time All Star, a guy who made the All-NBA First Team once and was on the second team three times, plus he averaged 17.7 points and 8.2 assists a game. Like Webber not a lock, but as time moves on (he’s been eligible for a couple years) he looks more and more like a guy who could get in.
Vlade Divac. His NBA numbers are not exactly what gets him into the Hall of Fame (11.8 points and 8.2 rebounds a game), but he did make one All-Star team. Rather, you have to discuss Vlade as a guy on the front end of the influx of European talent that we see now throughout the game. As an international player he is a trendsetter. Also, his flopping and cigarette smoking are legendary.
While his brother spars online with Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins takes up fight with Stephen Jackson
Then, Andrew Wiggins‘ brother, Butler, Stephen Jackson and Wiggins himself all fanned the flames of the resulting fire.
Butler reportedly had problems with Andrew Wiggins last season, specifically Wiggins’ work ethic and defensive approach. Want corroborating evidence the Minnesota teammates aren’t simpatico? Wiggins’ brother, Nick Wiggins, tweeted (and deleted) “Hallelujah” to news of Butler’s trade request:
As a result of the investigation into his team’s hostile work environment, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will donate $10 million “organizations that are committed to supporting the leadership and development of women in the sports industry and combating domestic violence.” The Mavericks will also report to the NBA on structural changes to their organization.
And Cuban showed accountability by granting an interview to Rachel Nichols of ESPN:
I appreciate Cuban sitting for this interview with Nichols, who grilled him. I appreciate him apologizing to the actual victims. I appreciate him taking responsibility for the wrongdoing that happened beneath him. I appreciate him explaining what he did wrong and what he learned. I appreciate him, along with Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall, explaining the changes they’re making to rectify the situation.
But, though he explained his logic and subsequent lesson from handling Earl Sneed’s domestic violence, Cuban gave no real answer to how he let former CEO Terdema Ussery – found to be an serial sexual harasser – remain in power for 15 years. Taking Cuban at his word – that he was blind to the sexual harassment prevalent in the Mavericks business office – means shattering his image as a great businessman. The sharp and in-charge owner Cuban presented himself as would never grant Ussery such unchecked power for so long. “If I was in our business office five times in 15 years, that was a lot,” Cuban told Nichols. “I mean, it’s embarrassing to say.”
And that’s the benign explanation. Embarrassing is nothing compared to the alternative – that Cuban was as involved as he portrayed, which would mean he knew about Ussery’s misconduct and excused it. The choices are that Cuban’s first-rate businessman image was fraudulent or that he’s directly complicit in Ussery’s sexual harassment.
More than anything, hopefully Cuban has truly learned how not to repeat his prior errors.
Report: Clippers emerging as frontrunner to sign Kawhi Leonard
Though Butler’s demanding style has worn on teammates in Minnesota, nobody has ever accused Leonard of lacking work ethic or competitiveness. I bet Butler would respect Leonard.
They’re both elite defensively and at least very good offensively. There could be issues with how often each likes to isolate, but get all that talent to L.A. then figure out the rest later.
The question for the Clippers: Do they trade for Butler now or wait to try signing both stars in free agency next summer? The latter option carries more upside, allowing the Clippers to preserve assets. But it also risks Minnesota trading Butler and his Bird Rights to another team and him re-signing there.
I don’t know whether they’ll trade for Butler, but if the Clippers do, I know we’ll crank up the Leonard-Clippers speculation even higher. There’s value in putting that in Leonard’s mind while the Raptors are trying to woo him first-hand over the next year.
Reports: Jimmy Butler’s trade preference is Clippers, Knicks less interested
Knicks president Steve Mills said New York wouldn’t trade its draft picks and wouldn’t trade for players it could just sign in free agency. In other words: No more Carmelo Anthony– or Andrea Bargnani-type deals.
Then, Jimmy Butler – who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer – requested a trade from the Timberwolves and put the Knicks on his list of preferred destinations (with the Nets and Clippers).
Brooklyn and the Clippers appear motivated on Butler, while the Knicks have been firm all summer that the team does not want to part with assets and instead prioritize signing free agents outright, according to sources.
The Knicks should be reluctant to trade for Butler now. Especially with Kristaps Porzingis injured, Butler is unlikely to help New York win meaningfully this season. It’d be much better to sign him next summer and preserve assets.
But there’s no guarantee the Knicks sign him next summer. Whichever team has his Bird Rights and ability to offer him a larger contract will have the upper-hand. There is value in trading for him now.
Perhaps, the Knicks can find a worthwhile Butler trade that includes trading picks. The only way to find out is negotiating with Minnesota. For New York to eliminate the idea outright because the team made mistakes in similar situations would be misguided.
But Knicks are going to Knick.
At least New York isn’t Butler’s first choice.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Minnesota's Jimmy Butler is most determined to find a way to the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources tell ESPN. The appeal of partnering with a second star – the Clippers have two max contract slots available in summer free agency – is an intriguing scenario for him.