Chris Webber

Hall Of Fame Unveils 13 Finalists

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced 13 finalists to be considered for induction this year, including four newcomers, according to a league press release.

The list includes eight players, four coaches, and a referee.

The new names under consideration are Marques JohnsonJack Sikma, Ben Wallace and Paul Westphal. The other players on the list include Bobby Jones,  Sidney Moncrief, Chris Webber and Theresa Weatherspoon.

The four coaches hoping for enshrinement include Leta Andrews, Bill Fitch, Eddie Sutton and Barbara StevensHugh Evans is the referee who made the short list.

Potential honorees are eligible on the ballot for Hall of Fame enshrinement after three full seasons of retirement.

The Class of 2019 will be announced at a press conference in Minneapolis at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in April.

Among the newcomers, Johnson’s resume includes reaching the All-Star game five times and being named 1979 national collegiate Player of the Year. Sikma, who played for the Seattle SuperSonics, was a seven-time All-Star. Wallace made four All-Star appearances and was named Defensive Player of the Year four times with the Pistons. Westphal, also a longtime coach in the league, was a five-time All-Star.

To make the Hall of Fame, a finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee.

And-Ones: Canada, Blatt, HOF, Dixson

Per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, former Indiana University basketball player and Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald has been named the new president and CEO of Canada Basketball.

A native of Chicago, Grunwald was hired by the Raptors in 1994 as the team’s vice president for legal affairs and assistant general manager under former college teammate Isiah Thomas. Grunwald took over for Thomas in a few years later, eventually orchestrating a trade for Vince Carter that led to three straight playoff berths from 2000 to 2002.

Since that time, Grunwald has been heavily involved in all things Canadian. He obtained Canadian citizenship in 1999, served as the president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, and even spent time as the Athletic Director at McMaster University in Ontario.

“I’m honoured and proud to have this opportunity to work with Canada Basketball,” said Grunwald in a press release announcing his hiring. “This is an exciting time for the sport in our country and I look forward to working with the entire basketball community to continue the tremendous progress the sport has made here at all levels.”

Here are a few more items from around the basketball universe:

  • Former Cavaliers and current Olympiacos head coach David Blatt has called for an end to the dispute between FIBA and the EuroLeague, per Antigoni Zachari of EuroHoops. Saying the conflict is a matter of egos and political designs, Blatt iterated how the two organizations ongoing spat is not good for the sport of basketball.
  • In addition to Shawn Marion, who we highlighted here, Joe Nguyen of The Denver Post also opines that the following players could find their way into the Hall of Fame next year – guards Chauncey Billups, Tim Hardaway, Sidney Moncrief, and Kevin Johnson; and forwards Chris Webber and Ben Wallace.
  • Less than two weeks after working out for the Hawks, undrafted rookie Dikembe Dixson has signed with the Lebanese Basketball League’s Hoops Club, according to Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Dixson, 22, posted career averages of 17.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in his three seasons at UIC.

Nash, Kidd, Allen Headline 13 Hall Of Fame Finalists

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced 13 finalists to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame in 2018. The list includes six first-time finalists, including likely first-ballot hall-of-famers Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, and Steve Nash, as well as Grant Hill, three-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith and four-time WNBA Champion Tina Thompson.

Among the seven other finalists are four-time NBA All-Star Maurice Cheeks, two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, and five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber. Rounding out the list are long-time Maryland coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, 28-year NBA referee Hugh Evans, two-time NCAA National Championship Coach of Baylor Kim Mulkey, and 10-time AAU National Champions Wayland Baptist University.

The Class of 2018 will be announced on Saturday, March 31 at a press conference in San Antonio prior to the NCAA Men’s Final Four. Let’s now take a look at some more information on the six former NBA stars up for election as players.

  • Steve Nash – Played in the NBA for 19 seasons, earning MVP honors in both 2005 and 2006. An eight-time All-Star and an All-NBA First Team member in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Nash also holds the NBA record for highest career free throw percentage (.904) and had four seasons with a shooting line of .500/.400/.900, the most in NBA history.
  • Jason Kidd – During his 18-year NBA career, he earned All-NBA First Team honors five times and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times. He is a 10-time NBA All-Star while also ranking second on the NBA all-time steals list (2,684) and all-time assists list (12,091).
  • Ray Allen – A two-time NBA Champion, Allen was selected to the All-Star game 10 times during his 18-year career. He is still the all-time NBA leader in three-point field goals made (2,973) and is ranked sixth on the all-time free throw percentage list (.894).
  • Grant Hill – A 19-year NBA veteran, a seven-time NBA All-Star, and a member of the All-NBA First Team in 1997, Hill was also a member of two NCAA national championship teams (1991, 1992) at Duke and a gold medal recipient at the 1996 Olympic Games.
  • Chris Webber –Webber is a five-time NBA All-Star and the 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year. He earned All-NBA First Team honors in 2001 and averaged more than 20 points per game for nine consecutive seasons from the mid-90’s to the early 00’s.
  • Maurice Cheeks – A four-time NBA All-Star (1983, 1986-1988) and four-time NBA All-Defensive team selection, Cheeks was also a member of the 1983 NBA Champion Philadelphia 76ers.

Southeast Notes: Jordan, Webber, Hawks

Hornets owner Michael Jordan isn’t on board with shortening games, an idea the NBA is experimenting with this weekend, as Jordan tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. Jordan said the league didn’t indicate to him when it let him know of Sunday’s planned 44-minute game between the Nets and Celtics that it was seriously considering such a change for regular season games, Broussard notes. The iconic former player also expressed his disagreement with LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki, who told reporters this week that they’d like to see the NBA shorten the season.

“It’s not like football,” Jordan said. “We don’t really have to worry about concussions and some of the physical damage that football players deal with after they retire. I can understand football players wanting to play fewer games from a physical standpoint. But basketball’s not the same. I’m not diminishing the fact that we go through a grueling season. But I wouldn’t want to shorten the game or play 15-20 fewer games.”

Still, shorter games clearly have their proponents, so it’ll be interesting to see if Jordan can prevail on his fellow owners to make Sunday’s game a one-time experiment. Here’s more from MJ’s Southeast Division:

  • Chris Webber took to Twitter to confirm his interest in the Hawks, and while he doesn’t disclose the identities of the investors he’s partnering with, he insists they would keep the team in Atlanta.
  • The formal sale process and vetting of prospective owners can’t start for the Hawks until all of the team’s existing owners determine whether they’re selling, and they’ve yet to schedule a meeting to discuss the issue, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Free agent power forward Tyrus Thomas has changed agents as he attempts to return to the NBA, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Thomas hired Roger Montgomery of the Montgomery Sports Group, according to Kennedy, replacing John Hamilton of Performance Sports Management. Thomas has been out of the league since the Hornets (then the Bobcats) put him on amnesty waivers in July 2013.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel takes a stab at predicting the Heat‘s opening-night roster amid his latest mailbag column.

Danny Ferry Unlikely To Return To Hawks?

Hawks GM Danny Ferry is not expected to return to his job from the indefinite leave of absence he took last month, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes at the end of his full story on Chris Webber‘s bid for an ownership stake in the franchise. Controlling owner Bruce Levensen and his partners are selling what amounts to a 50.1% share of the franchise, and new owners often make changes in their front offices. The racially derogatory remarks about Luol Deng that Ferry read from a scouting report in a June conference call with Hawks owners precipitated his leave of absence and would presumably make Ferry’s job security especially tenuous once a new owner is in place. Still, Wojnarowski’s report is the most significant indication to date that Ferry doesn’t appear long for Atlanta.

Deng has forgiven Ferry for repeating the scouting report’s comments, and several of Ferry’s longtime associates, including former teammate Tim Duncan, have come to his defense. Commissioner Adam Silver has said he believes Ferry is wise to have taken a leave of absence, though he’s also said that he doesn’t believe the executive has committed any offense that would warrant termination. Still others, including Carmelo Anthony, have said that the entirety of the scandal, which germinates from a racially charged email that Levenson sent in 2012, has left them with a negative perception of the Hawks.

Coach Mike Budenholzer is serving as interim GM while CEO Steve Koonin is running the franchise in Levenson’s stead. A report earlier this month indicated that the team is likely to be sold by the end of the year, though another dispatch from later that same day indicated that it was premature to set such a timetable. Webber is part of a group of bidders that includes more significant financial backing from others, though the identity of the primary investors remains unclear, according to Wojnarowski. The former player would like to become a “prominent figure” in the team’s basketball operations, Wojnarowski writes, though it’s unclear just what sort of role he’s targeting and whether he would want Ferry to return as GM. Hawks executive Dominique Wilkins has also expressed a desire to be part of an ownership group for the franchise, though it’s unclear if he still wants that in the wake of his recent promotion within the team’s front office.

And-Ones: Thunder, Okafor, Hollins

With Kevin Durant expected to miss a minimum of six to eight weeks with a fractured foot, the Thunder will have to look for help from within the organization, Nick Gallo of NBA.com writes. “The process is ongoing and it will continue to be ongoing,” coach Scott Brooks said. “The first part of that process is not making an excuse. If you can all come to grips with that, then you have a better chance to have success. We’ve always done that as an organization. Whatever is thrown at us, we’re going to control what we can and not worry about the things that we can’t.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • One of the players in the running to be the first overall draft choice next June is Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress (video link) profiles the top ranked player in the ACC.
  • Newcomer Ryan Hollins‘ biggest value to the Kings may be taking the defensive weight off of DeMarcus Cousins, Nick Avila of SI.com opines. Hollins is part of a crowded frontcourt mix in Sacramento that includes Jason Thompson, Reggie Evans, Carl Landry, and Sim Bhullar.
  • Jamelle McMillan, son of former NBA player and head coach Nate McMillan, was named the player development coach for the Pelicans, the team announced in a press release. McMillan was on New Orleans’ staff as an intern the last two seasons.
  • A few head coaches enter the season already on the hot seat, while others’ perches will heat up as the season progresses. Sam Amick of USA Today looks at each coach’s job status entering the new campaign.
  • Chris Webber is part of a potential ownership group that has registered interest with the NBA league office about buying the Hawks, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).

Odds & Ends: Clippers, Collins, Shaw, Karl

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that Lionel Hollins met with the Clippers today and engaged in a lengthy conversation about their head coaching job. Turner also relays that Brian Shaw is expected to interview with team brass on either Monday or Tuesday next week (Twitter links). As for George Karl, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles tweets that while the Clippers haven't spoken to him directly, they have been in contact with his representative. Both ESPN's Marc Stein and Shelburne report that Karl and Shaw have emerged as the team's top two candidates for the job. 

As we gear up for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, here are a few miscellaneous notes to share from around the league tonight:

  • As far as his next contract goes, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki says that it'll probably be a two- or three-year deal (Jon Machota of SportsDayDFW). 
  • Sam Amick of USA Today hears that the Grizzlies reached out to Karl almost immediately after he was let go in Denver today. The Nuggets had to grant permission to Memphis in order to reach out to Karl because the severance agreement hasn't been finalized and the 62-year-old coach is still under contract.
  • Amick notes that the Grizzlies had their sights set on assistant Dave Joerger as their top candidate to replace Hollins, but made that option contingent on whether or not Karl would become available. 
  • Sportando.net's Emiliano Carchia tweets that former NBA player Andres Nocioni is in talks regarding a contract extension with Baskonia, a Spanish ballclub that participates in the ACB and Euroleague. 
  • Flip Saunders confirmed on KFAN radio in Minnesota that the Timberwolves currently have Victor Oladipo ahead of Ben McLemore on their draft board, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. 
  • ESPN Insider Chad Ford says that many teams are bummed that Dario Saric is considering withdrawing his name from this year's draft, adding that several NBA executives had him ranked in their top five or top seven prospects. He also mentions that there are other teams who had no intention of drafting Saric that aren't thrilled with the news either, considering the notion that the draft gets weaker when talent leaves. Interestingly enough, Ford says he wouldn't be surprised if some NBA teams that are currently in Italy for the Eurocamp will try to travel to Croatia in order to make an attempt to persuade Saric to keep his name in consideration this year (All Twitter links). 
  • Ricky Ledo's agent, Seth Cohen, tells SNY.tv's Adam Zagoria that his client will not work out for the Thunder (Twitter link).
  • For whatever it's worth, Shaquille O'Neal said that he and Chris Webber would like to own the Kings (Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram noted the comment via Twitter). 

Kings To Interview David Morway For GM Job

10:06pm: Morway and Bird wouldn't be a package deal, Amick adds via Twitter, given their falling out toward the end of their time together with the Pacers.

9:13pm: Former Pacers GM David Morway is expected to interview for the Kings GM job on Friday, USA Today's Sam Amick reports. New Kings owner Vivek Ranadive continues to try woo Larry Bird, Morway's boss in Indiana, out of retirement to take over GM duties in Sacramento, but though Ranadive has spoken with Bird, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee says the two sides didn't meet today for an interview. That contradicts an earlier report from Peter Vecsey.

Amick first mentioned Morway as a possible candidate last month, and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported a couple of days ago that Morway and the Kings had been in contact. The team has interviewed Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace, who appears to be the frontrunner, though Ranadive and company are reaching out to many other candidates. The Kings have also interviewed Warriors assistant GM Travis Schlenk and Mike Dunleavy, who has front office experience with the Bucks and Clippers.

The Kings are considering former star Chris Webber for a role in the organization, but he's not a candidate to become GM, Jones writes. Incumbent GM Geoff Petrie remains with the team even as it searches for his replacement, and he's still in charge of the Kings' draft preparation.