It’s official: Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Ray Allen headline 2018 basketball Hall of Fame class

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It was a great year for guards.

The 2018 class for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame was made official Saturday and it is loaded with some of the great guards of the last couple decades in the NBA. There are not a lot of surprises here — if Jason Kidd isn’t a first-ballot Hall of Famer you’re doing it wrong — but it doesn’t lessen the quality of the class.

Here is who made it and will be inducted this fall.

RAY ALLEN. Jesus Shuttlesworth Allen had as pure a jump shot as the game has ever seen, which lifted him to be the NBA’s all-time leader in made three-pointers. Allen’s resume includes two NBA Championships (2008 Boston Celtics and 2013 Miami Heat), being an All-Star 10 times, and having an Olympic Gold Medal in 2000. Before getting to the NBA, he was a 1996 First Team All-American at UConn. However, when you think of Allen, you’ll think of this shot.

JASON KIDD. Arguably the greatest point guards of his generation and without question belongs in the Hall. However, if you want the resume he’s an NBA champion (2011 Dallas Mavericks), five-time All-NBA First Team, four-times All-Defensive First Team, a 10-time NBA All-Star, and the 1995 NBA Co-Rookie of the Year. At the University of California, Kidd was named Pac-10 Player of the Year and a consensus First-Team All American in 1994.

STEVE NASH. Nash is a two-time NBA MVP who helped revolutionize the NBA with Mike D’Antoni and the seven-seconds or less Suns (every NBA team now was influenced by Nash and those Suns). He’s Canada’s greatest NBA player ever and he got the HOF resume with those MVPs,  being an eight-time NBA All-Star, and being three-time All-NBA First Team member. He is third in all-time assists and holds the NBA record for highest career free throw percentage (.904).

GRANT HILL. Despite injuries that changed the trajectory of his career, Hill’s greatness was never in question. He was the 1995 Co-Rookie of the Year (with Kidd), five-times All-NBA, a seven-time NBA All-Star, and in college at Duke was a member of two NCAA national championship teams (1991, 1992). Hill also has a gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games, and now he’s part of the Atlanta Hawks ownership group.

MAURICE CHEEKS. It’s good to see defense get rewarded. Cheeks was a lock-down defender for most of his 15-year career, an NBA champion (the 1983  Philadelphia 76ers), a four-time NBA All-Star, and a five-time All-Defense player. Cheeks is still involved in the game and is currently an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

CHARLIE SCOTT. Another great guard who played a couple of seasons in the ABA before going to Phoenix in the NBA. He’s a five-time All-Star who averaged 20.7 points per game for his career, and was a 1976 NBA Champion with the Celtics.

ROD THORN. Thorn was a coach and GM with the Bulls who drafted Michael Jordan, but more than that built the Nets teams that reached back-to-back NBA Finals, ran the 76ers and served for years in the league office.

RICK WELTS. An executive formerly with the Suns and now with the Warriors, he helped transform franchises and make them profitable.

DINO RADJA. He played four seasons with the Celtics back in the 1990s (averaging 16.7 points per game and making the All-Rookie team), but Croatian big man is in on the strength of his international play, where he is one of FIBA’s 50 Greatest Players.

Also getting in this year but not with direct NBA ties:

TINA THOMPSON. Thompson is a four-time WNBA Champion with the Houston Comets (1997- 2000) and a nine-time WNBA All-Star. She is one of the greatest WNBA players in the league’s history.

CHARLES “LEFTY’ DRIESELL. Driesell is the only coach in NCAA history to win 100 games at four different schools and just one of 11 coaches to lead four schools to the NCAA Tournament.

KATIE SMITH. The WNBA Finals MVP (2008) and a two-time WNBA Champion with the Detroit Shock (2006, 2008), she is the all-time leading scorer in women’s professional basketball, plus has three Olympic gold medals. Smith played for the Ohio State University (1992-1996) and was the first female Buckeye athlete to have her number retired.

ORA MAE WASHINGTON. One of the great female athletes of the turn of the last century, she was born in 1898 and part of 11 straight Women’s Colored Basketball Championship teams.

 

James Harden returns to 76ers Monday night, is on minutes restriction

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The 76ers were able to keep their heads above water. For 14 games, James Harden was out with a right foot tendon sprain — both Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey missed games in that stretch as well (Maxey remains out) — and Philadelphia went 8-6 with a +2.9 net rating and the best defense in the NBA over that stretch.

Monday night in Houston, Harden returns.

This wasn’t a surprise, nor is the fact Doc Rivers confirmed Harden will be on a minutes restriction at first.

Harden averaged 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds a game before his injury, and while his 3-point shooting percentage was down (33.3%) he was still efficient and finding his footing as more of a facilitator than scorer.

The 76ers are 12-11 on the season and sit in a three-way tie for fifth in the East (with the Pacers and Raptors). If Harden can spark the Philadephia offense there is plenty of time for them to climb into the top four, host a first-round playoff game and position themselves for a deep playoff run. But it starts with getting their starting guards healthy again.

Harden is ready to take that on.

Trae Young frustrated ‘private conversations get out to the public’ about missed game

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Rumors and chatter of tension in Atlanta — about how Trae Young was adapting to playing with Dejonte Murray, and his pushback on coach Nate McMillan and his efforts to get the ball moving more — have been all over the league since the start of the season. Over the weekend, a little of that leaked out, with reports Young chose not to come to the arena Friday after McMillan gave him a choice of participating in shootaround or missing the game.

Young addressed the report and seemed more concerned that it got out than the report’s content.

“I mean, it was just a situation. I mean, we’re all grown men here and there’s sometimes we don’t always agree. And it’s unfortunate that private situations and private conversations get out to the public, but I guess that’s the world we live in now. Yeah, I’m just gonna just focus on basketball and focus on helping my team win. And that’s what I got to be focusing on…

“Like I said, it’s a private matter, again, made public, which is unfortunate. And if it was to stay private, it probably wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. But like I said, it’s unfortunate in my job, and my goal is to win championships. And that’s what I focus on.”

Young went through shootaround  Monday and is set to play against the Thunder.

Murray has been professional throughout this situation, saying he didn’t see anything at the shootaround Friday and backing Young and McMillan when asked.

Bringing in Murray was supposed to take some pressure off Young and spread the wealth more on offense, ideally allowing Young to be more efficient. Instead, Young’s usage rate is nearly identical to last season, he is shooting just 30.3% from 3 and his true shooting percentage has fallen below league average. The Hawks as a team make the fewest passes per game of any team in the league (stat via NBA.com). The Hawks’ offense is still a lot of Young, but it’s not as efficient as it has been in years past.

Atlanta is still 13-10 on the season, has a top-10 defense and sits fourth in the East — they are not struggling. But neither have they made the leap to become a team that could threaten Boston or Milwaukee atop the conference, and that’s what the Hawks expected.

There could be personnel moves coming in Atlanta — John Collins is available via trade, again — but if the Hawks can’t smooth out their internal, existing concerns (and get Collins and DeAndre Hunter healthy) other roster moves will be just cosmetic.

Nike, Kyrie Irving part ways, making him a sneaker free agent

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Here’s the positive spin for Kyrie Irving: He will have the chance to remake his situation into something he’s more comfortable with during 2023. As a player, he will be an unrestricted free agent and can choose where he wants to play in coming seasons (how many teams are interested and for how many years will be interesting to see).

Irving also is a sneaker free agent — Nike has cut ties with him, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Irving is happy with this.

The separation is not a surprise. Nike suspended its relationship with Irving after he Tweeted out support for an antisemitic film, did not apologize (at first), and was suspended by the Nets. Here was the company’s statement at that time:

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism. To that end, we’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”

Nike founder Phil Knight said it was likely the end of the company’s relationship with Irving.

That’s not a small thing by Nike, Irving has had a signature shoe line since 2014 and is reported to have a deal with Nike worth more than $10 million a season because his shoes are popular. However, his contract with the shoe giant was set to end in October 2023, and there had been reports Nike did not plan to extend that deal before this current controversy started.

Nike is already looking in a new direction, at Ja Morant.

Irving now has the chance to choose his new direction.

 

Cavaliers’ Dean Wade to miss 3-4 weeks due to shoulder injury

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In Cleveland’s search for a fifth starter to play the three next to Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, Dean Wade might be the best of the group. Not that the numbers are great for him or anyone (Cedi Osman is the best statistically) but the eye test makes one think Wade could be the answer.

We’ll have to wait a while to find out as Wade will be out 3-4 weeks with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, the Cavaliers announced. Friday night against the Magic he suffered an aggravation to a previous injury.

Wade has been a quality floor-spacer for the Cavaliers this season, shooting 41.1% from three, and is averaging 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a game, playing a little more than 24 minutes a night.

When he returns, hopefully coach J.B. Bickerstaff will give him a little more run with the rest of the Cavaliers core (when they are healthy).