Associated Press

Chris Webber, Ben Wallace headline Hall of Fame finalists announcement

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CHARLOTTE — Chris Webber — a four-time All-NBA player, five-time All-Star, and part of the Fab Five at Michigan who helped change the game of college basketball — is back on the doorstep of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

This time he is joined by the defensive force that was Ben Wallace, as well as Bucks and UCLA legend Marques Johnson.

The finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame were announced Friday at a ceremony in Charlotte, home of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. Who gets in will be announced in Minneapolis at the NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Here are this year’s list of Finalists with NBA ties:

CHRIS WEBBER — It’s his turn to get in. Webber has the resume: Four-time All-NBA player, five-time NBA All-Star, 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year, he averaged more than 20 points per game for nine seasons, and he led the NBA in rebounds per game in the 1998-1999 season. And that’s just in the NBA — remember this is the “Basketball Hall of Fame” so being a key part of the “Fab Five” at Michigan that went to two Final Fours, and more importantly revolutionized the college game, counts as well. He deserves to make the cut, hopefully, this time the voters put him in.

BEN WALLACE — A rock on the defensive end, he is a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, doing so in a five-year span — and the one year he didn’t win it he helped lead the Pistons to an NBA title (2004). He made the NBA All-Defensive team eight times (five times first team), three times made the All-NBA team, and was a four-time NBA All-Star. He also led the league in rebounding twice. If we’re going to talk about defense being half the game, then Wallas has to be considered.

MARQUES JOHNSON — The Milwaukee Bucks legend is a first-time nominee. He averaged 20.1 points and 7 rebounds per game in his 11-year career and was five-time NBA All-Star plus made the All-NBA team once. In college, he helped legendary coach John Wooden win his final NCAA title at UCLA, and in 1977 was named the National Collegiate Player of the Year.

BOBBY JONES — A legend in Philadelphia who helped the Sixers to their last NBA title back in 1983. Jones was a lock-down defender who was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight straight years, plus he was a four-time All-Star and in 1983 won the Sixth Man of the Year award. Jones started his career in Denver when the Nuggets were in the ABA and he made the ABA All-Star team, All-Rookie Team,  and two times was on the league’s All-Defensive Team. He also has a silver medal from the disputed 1972 Olympics.

SIDNEY MONCRIEF — Playing for the Bucks and Hawks, Moncrief was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, made an All-NBA team, is a five-time All-Star and four times made the All-Defensive Team.

JACK SIKMA — An icon of the Seattle Supersonics, he helped lead that team to a title in 1979. Sikma is a seven-time All-Star is the only center in NBA history to lead the league in single-season free throw percentage at .922 (1987-88).

PAUL WESTPHAL — Westphal won a ring with the Boston Celtics in 1974, and in his career was a three-time All-NBA player and a five-time All-Star. He is a member of the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor.

HUGH EVANS — A legendary referee, Evans officiated nearly 2,000 regular season NBA games, 170 NBA Playoff games, 35 NBA Finals games and four NBA All-Star games.

BILL FITCH [Coach] – Fitch coached in the NBA for 25 seasons, twice being named Coach of the Year. He led the Boston Celtics to a title in 1981 and still holds the highest winning percentage of any coach in Celtics history (.738).

Also nominated for the Hall of Fame.

• College coaching legend Eddie Sutton.

• Leta Andrews coached high school basketball for over fifty years and is the all-time winningest high school coach, male or female.

• Barbara Stevens is the fifth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career wins, doing so over a 40-year career at the Division II level.

• Teresa Weatherspoon is a WNBA legend: Five-time WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. She was the first player to rack up 1,000 points and 1,000 assists in the WNBA. She also has an Olympic gold medal.

• Longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein and legendary Los Angeles Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler are the 2019 Curt Gowdy Media Award recipients.

• Del Harris, who has spent 50 years coaching and teaching the game, and Harry Glickman — the “father” of professional sports in Oregon — will be honored with lifetime achievement awards.

James Ennis opting out of 76ers contract

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James Ennis was the 76ers’ lone reliably good backup this postseason.

He’s hoping to parlay that success into a salary above $1,845,301 next season.

Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

James Ennis will decline his player option and become a free agent, his agent, Scott Nichols from Rize Management, confirmed Monday morning.

Teams can’t get enough versatile forwards like Ennis. He can defend multiple positions and, sometimes, shoot adequately from outside. The 28-year-old should remain a helpful player.

With his Non-Bird Rights, Philadelphia can offer him a starting salary up to 120% of his minimum salary. That projects to be about $2.3 million. Paying Ennis more would require using another exception (like the mid-level) or cap space.

Of course, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are the main priorities in free agency. But the 76ers sacrificed a lot of depth to acquire those two. Philadelphia must build back up its roster.

So, whether or not they re-sign Ennis, the 76ers should keep pursuing more capable reserves.

Rob Pelinka: Magic Johnson saying I betrayed him ‘simply not true’

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Frank Vogel – at was ostensibly his own introductory press conference – sat quietly while Lakers general manager Pelinka fielded six straight questions.

Finally, at Pelinka’s urging, Vogel chimed in.

“What I’d like to add, quite frankly, is the perception of our organization is very far from the reality,” Vogel said, “from my experience coming in here, of just the thoroughness of the work, the collaboration of how things are being done with the decision-making.”

Vogel has worked one week for the Lakers. His claims of stability carry far less weight than the description Magic Johnson – who ran the front office for two years before stunningly resigning last month – gave in an explosive interview earlier in the day.

Johnson said Pelinka betrayed him. Johnson said business-side executive Tim Harris interfered in basketball operations. Johnson said mid-level employees Joey Buss and Jesse Buss thought they should be general manager or president.

And Johnson said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss enabled this toxic environment.

Pelinka stressed how much he enjoyed working with Johnson. Pelinka said he had spoken positively with Johnson several times in the last month. So, Pelinka called Johnson’s characterizations “saddening and disheartening.”

“They’re just simply not true,” Pelinka said. “I stand beside him. I stand with him as a colleague and a partner. I’ve always supported everything he’s done and will continue to.”

Pelinka is fighting an uphill battle on his reputation. Johnson remains so popular because of his greatness as a player and endearing personality.

Johnson effectively admitted today to being an absentee executive. He even contradicted his own tweet:

But most still view Johnson as more credible than Pelinka.

Really, this whole saga was sad for Frank, who was clearly excited about this opportunity after failing with the Magic. He was often a bystander at his own press conference.

Ultimately, it won’t matter Johnson-Pelinka drama upstaged Frank. He still takes over a team with LeBron James. a good amount of young talent, the No. 4 pick and max cap space. Vogel can succeed in this job.

If he does, everyone will come around. Pelinka was right about one thing: Winning will solve most of the Lakers’ issues.

But it’ll be harder for them to win because of their issues.

Frank can do his part by coaching well and, as he said he was up for, instilling energy and cohesion around him.

He can’t simply say the Lakers have their act together and expect us to believe him. Neither can Pelinka. And Johnson is obviously saying the opposite.

The next big question: How will they pitch free agents and stop these problems from spiraling even further?

Magic Johnson: Former Pelicans GM Dell Demps leaked Anthony Davis trade-talk details

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The Pelicans reportedly blame the Lakers for details of Anthony Davis trade negotiations leaking.

Former Lakers president Magic Johnson blames former Pelicans general manager Dell Demps.

Johnson on ESPN:

I told Dell Demps, “Let’s just do it in private. What we offer, let’s keep it between us.” Well, Dell didn’t do that. So, that’s how it got out.”

The Lakers have intriguing assets – Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 pick, all their own future first-round picks. Los Angeles will likely try again to land Davis.

Johnson and Demps are out. So, maybe these sour grapes don’t matter.

But enough people remain in each organization – including Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, whom Johnson blasted today – from those winter trade talks. Whether or not there’s an edict in New Orleans forbidding new lead executive David Griffin from sending Davis to the Lakers, there’s clearly mistrust between these franchises. That makes it harder to reach a deal.

Lakers haven for failed coaches

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In the last two decades, 16 teams changed coaches, gave a majority of their minutes to returning players the following season and won 15 more games than the year prior (or equivalent in lockout-shortened season).

Only one of those 16 deposed coaches has gotten another non-interim NBA head-coaching job.

The Lakers will introduce him today.

His lead assistant is also one of the 16. Another member of the 16 was instrumental in hiring them.

Frank Vogel, Jason Kidd and Kurt Rambis make quite a trio.

The Lakers’ new head coach, Vogel is only one year removed from guiding Orlando to a 25-57 record. The Magic’s roster seemed to be the main culprit when they fired him, but Steve Clifford led a similar roster to a 42-40 record. That certainly didn’t reflect well on Vogel.

Ditto how the Bucks responded to Kidd’s departure. After going 44-38 and losing in the first round last season, Milwaukee ascended to 60-22 and is leading the Eastern Conference finals this season under Mike Budenholzer. Yet, Kidd – who’ll assist Vogel – was clearly a priority for the Lakers.

In 2011, the Timberwolves finished 17-65 and fired Rambis. Minnesota went 26-40 the following year under Rick Adelman. After bouncing around other jobs, Rambis is now playing a leading role in Rob Pelinka’s front office.

Every team changes between seasons. Players come and go. Those who stay get older and develop. Injuries happen inconsistently. The NBA hardly runs controlled experiments on coaches.

But these situations don’t instill confidence in Vogel, Kidd and Rambis. That they’re all working together now is remarkable.

Vogel has the most prominent role. Fortunately for the Lakers, he’s also the one least likely to be defined by his fixed-after-he-left tenure. Before Orlando, Vogel had plenty of success with the Pacers.

Kidd also did some positive things with the Bucks. Rambis…

People can learn from their mistakes. Second chances are sometimes warranted.

But the Lakers have LeBron James, whose prime years are dwindling. They’re a prestigious franchise in a premier market. High-end coaches and executives are particularly important and attainable.

The Lakers have given power to this group – maybe for good reason, maybe not.

I hope they explain why today, though there are several other issues they’ll have to address, too.