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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)

Paul George asked Billy Donovan not to run plays for him last year

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Oklahoma City Thunder are top-heavy team. Outside of their top three or four players, the Thunder aren’t very deep, and if any either Russell Westbrook or Paul George are out for any length of time, they are in serious trouble.

This season the Thunder are a surprising 18-10, good enough for third in the Western Conference at the time of publication. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for Paul George since coming to Oklahoma City last season exchange for Victor Oladipo, and according to a recent feature at ESPN George asked his coach for one specific thing.

This may seem strange, but George reportedly wanted coach Billy Donovan to stop running plays for him.

Despite Donovan having watched hours of game film on George to see where he could get him the ball where he’s most successful, that kind of careful planning didn’t fit how George likes to attack the game.

Via ESPN:

“At times he’s like, ‘Stop — just let me get it,'” Donovan said. “I had to learn him. I can watch things on film and say, ‘Oh, that’s a good play and he made that shot, let’s run that,’ but there’s a lot more to it than that.”

“I’ve always been a guy to just let the game come to me. Just play the game,” George said. “If it’s a shot for me, if I can make a play, create for someone else, I’ll do that. A lot of times you run a play, everybody’s watching, everybody’s locked in, everybody’s pulling over and it just makes the game tougher for me.

“I like it when I can kind of manipulate and be on attack mode where they don’t know what to do, as opposed to a play other teams [can] scout.”

Basketball is a team sport and it’s not just about the guys who are on the court. No doubt it was difficult for Donovan to give up some of the play-calling he specifically designed for George, but apparently it was the best thing for the team.

Report: Sixers want first rounder, have shot down multiple trades for Markelle Fultz

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What’s going on with Markelle Fultz? That’s the question everyone wants to know not only in the Philadelphia 76ers organization, but around the NBA.

The former No. 1 overall pick has struggled with his shot the last two seasons, and his recent diagnosis of the thoracic outlet syndrome isn’t the end of the story. Teams have reportedly been asking around about Fultz, and there have even been some denials about which teams are interested in the young guard.

This week Candace Buckner published an excellent profile of Fultz and some potential issues caused for him by an over-domineering inner circle. That profile also had sourced information from Buckner saying that the Sixers continue to field trade calls from interested parties for Fultz.

Via Washington Post:

While the Sixers pledge to support their player in his recovery process and are believed to have a relationship with Brothers and Fultz’s inner circle, the organization has been protective in its own way. According to people in the league, the Sixers have rejected multiple trade offers for Fultz. It’s not just that Philadelphia remains hopeful of getting Fultz on track to be a star in Philadelphia — much like prior top picks Ben Simmons and Embiid, who both missed their rookie seasons because of injuries. The Sixers have not received trade offers with what they believe to be equal value, a telling sign that indicates how other teams in the league view Fultz and the rocky start to his career.

If you are a fan looking in from the outside, this tells you two things. First, that no matter how much a player appears to be damaged goods, NBA GMs will do their due diligence and make a call to see if they can nab a player on the cheap.

Second, it lets you know that Fultz’s value right now is only at that “first call” level. Fultz showed a lot of promise during one season with the University of Washington, and that’s enough for Philadelphia to hold out on trading him for spare parts at this juncture. When we start getting word of teams sending actual, meaningful offers, that might give us a sort of triangulated idea of his stock around the league (and perhaps his recovery).

The Sixers’ asking price, for the moment, remains high. According to Philly.com’s Keith Pompey, 76ers brass are looking for a first round pick as part of the exchange in any Fultz deal. What that translates to is, Philadelphia isn’t ready to deal just yet.

Via Philly.com:

The ownership group also isn’t in total agreement with what do with Fultz, according to league sources.

A league source said the Sixers don’t want to part ways with Fultz unless a first-round pick is packaged in a deal for him. And they’re not talking about a late first-rounder, either.

League executives believe the Sixers will settle for less as it gets closer to the Feb. 7 trade deadline, because there really isn’t a trade market for Fultz right now. There’s too much skepticism surrounding his shooting woes and his shoulder issues.

Fultz is due $9.7 million next season but then has a player option for 2020-21 of $12.2 million. Since the Sixers still have time, we might be hanging around for a while to see Fultz in any other jersey outside of Philly.

What was Klay Thompson trying to say during this interview?

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In-game interviews are both an interesting layer of texture that adds depth to a TV broadcast and perhaps a distracting commitment for those playing or coaching in an NBA game.

So I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when things like this happen.

As the Golden State Warriors took on the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, Klay Thompson was pulled aside for an in-game interview with our friends over at NBC Sports Bay Area. Thompson was asked a question by Kerith Burke about ball movement leading to 3-pointers. Thompson was apparently in need of some sports drink because his answer was a little loopy.

Here’s what Thompson said in response to Burke:

“It’s great on both si— uh. It’s great, both of them are great. And we’re getting out and pushing them on the pace. That’s when we’re at our best.”

I’m not sure what I can parse from that. Maybe you can do better?

Thompson had 27 points, nine rebounds, and three assists in the win over the Kings, 130-125.

Raptors, Nuggets to face off in game between conference leaders

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Sunday night’s marquee matchup in the NBA features the top teams in the Eastern and Western Conference.

No, it’s not Boston vs. Golden State, as many would expect. Instead, Toronto and Denver lead their respective conferences a third of the way through the season.

The Raptors (23-8) come into Sunday’s matchup in Denver banged up, but they have company. The Nuggets are missing three starters from opening night but have been able to push through for their best start in decades.

Denver (19-9) leads the Western Conference this late in the season for the first time despite not having forward Paul Millsap (broken toe), guard Gary Harris (hip) and forward Will Barton (core muscle surgery). Coach Michael Malone has dug deep into his bench and found some production.

Most notable among the players stepping up is third-year forward Juancho Hernangomez. The Spaniard has played well this season, including 16 points in a key win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

He also had a big block in the final seconds of a 100-98 win over Golden State in the third game of the season.

“Juancho always plays extremely hard,” Malone told reporters after Friday’s win. “I think in his first two years he was playing very hard but not a lot of discipline. He was just all over the place. I think he’s calming down, he’s understanding who he’s guarding, tendencies, he’s having a lot more discipline within the game plan.”

Toronto has also adjusted to injuries, but it will be tested without center Jonas Valanciunas, who underwent surgery on his dislocated left thumb Thursday and is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Forward Kawhi Leonard scored 28 Friday night at Portland after missing two games with a hip injury, and guard Kyle Lowry is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with a thigh injury. He didn’t play against the Trail Blazers two nights after having 23 points and 12 assists in a win at Golden State.

Lowry had been struggling a bit before the win over the Warriors, which was a surprise to teammate Fred VanVleet.

“It’s unusual to see a guy who plays at a high level like that go through slumps,” VanVleet told reporters earlier in the week.

“But it comes and goes. It was just shot-making, really. It wasn’t like he wasn’t showing effort. He was probably frustrated he wasn’t making shots, but that comes and goes, and he’s right back where we want him, and where we need him to be.”

VanVleet had 21 points and eight assists Friday and likely will be tasked with trying to contain Denver point guard Jamal Murray.

The job of containing Nuggets center Nikola Jokic should fall to Serge Ibaka or Pascal Siakam, but not many have been able to contain the Serbian.

Toronto will be looking for some revenge, too. The Nuggets snapped the Raptors’ eight-game winning streak with a 106-103 victory on Dec. 3. Jokic had a triple-double and Lowry missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied it.

Denver had Millsap and Harris in that game but won’t have either Sunday.