Jay Wright

2021 Hall Of Fame Class Announced

As expected, Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace and Chris Webber will be part of the Class of 2021 for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

They will be joined by Chris Bosh, coaches Rick Adelman, Jay Wright and Bill Russell, and WNBA players Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson.

Among former players, Bosh is the only name that hasn’t been reported already. He is best known as part of the Big Three in Miami that made four straight Finals appearances and won two NBA titles early last decade. He played 13 NBA seasons, with the first seven coming in Toronto before getting a chance to join LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with the Heat.

Bosh is an 11-time All-Star and was a second-team All-NBA selection in 2007. A medical condition ended his career early, and he was elected to the Hall in his first year of eligibility.

Adelman made two trips to the NBA Finals and is the ninth-winningest coach in league history with 1,042 career victories. He played seven seasons in the league, but made his greatest impact as a coach, guiding the Trail Blazers, Warriors, Kings, Rockets and Timberwolves.

Wright has been the head coach at Villanova since 2001 and has more than 600 career wins. He has led the Wildcats to three Final Fours and captured NCAA titles in 2016 and 2018.

Russell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975 for his legendary playing career, but he was also a pioneer as a coach. He took over as player-coach of the Celtics in 1966, becoming the first Black head coach in North American professional sports. Russell had a 341-290 coaching record and won a pair of NBA titles.

Griffith is a seven-time WNBA all-star and was captured the league’s MVP, Newcomer of the Year and Defensive Player awards in 1999. She was named Finals MVP in 2005 after leading the Sacramento Monarchs to their first WNBA championship.

Jackson was an Australian star who won three silver medals in the Olympics. She’s among the WNBA career leaders in games, minutes, field goals and three-pointers and helped the Seattle Storm win two titles, capturing Finals MVP honors in 2010.

Several other players were also voted into the Hall, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter links):

  • International Committee: Toni Kukoc.
  • Contributors: Val Ackerman, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Howard Garfinkel.
  • Veteran’s Committee: Bob Dandridge.
  • Women’s Veteran Committee: Pearl Moore.
  • Early African-American Pioneers: Clarence Jenkins.

Photo courtesy of USA Sports Images.

Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Rick Adelman Among 2021 Hall Of Fame Finalists

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced 14 finalists for the Class of 2021 election, according to a press release. These nine players and five coaches are the candidates to be named Hall-of-Famers when this year’s class is announced on May 16.

This year’s finalists are as follows:

Players:

Coaches:

Hardaway, Johnson, Wallace, Webber, and Andrews have been finalists in the past and are receiving consideration again this year. The other nine are first-time finalists, though Russell has – of course – already been inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player.

Among this year’s first-time finalists, Bosh, Pierce, and Adelman are a few of the most interesting names. Bosh earned 11 All-Star nods and won a pair of NBA championships before a blood-clotting issue cut his career short. Pierce made 10 All-Star teams and won a title (and a Finals MVP award) over the course of his 19 NBA seasons. Adelman, meanwhile, is the ninth-winningest coach in NBA history, with an all-time regular season record of 1,042-749 (.582).

Due to the coronavirus, 2020’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony couldn’t be held as planned last year and has been rescheduled for May 14-16. The Class of 2020 includes Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and the late Kobe Bryant.

The ceremony for the Class of 2021 is scheduled to take place in September 2021, following May’s announcement of the inductees.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Vaccines, Miller, Evans, Villanova

The NBA has issued a memo to its 30 teams, warning that franchises will not be allowed to pursue or administer COVID-19 vaccines on a team-wide basis ahead of public health guidelines for prioritization, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The league will make exceptions for team physicians, health-related personnel, older staff members, and those with underlying conditions, however, Wojnarowski notes.

Throughout the country, states are administering vaccine doses to healthcare workers as the fight against COVID-19 rapidly accelerates. The vaccines come from Pfizer and Moderna, with a country-wide expectation that those with an increased risk of contracting the virus will have access to the vaccine sooner.

Seniors and those with underlying conditions would naturally come next, though many have questioned whether the NBA would move quickly and get its players and staffers vaccinated sooner than expected.

“It goes without saying that in no form or way will we jump the line,” commissioner Adam Silver said last week. “We will wait our turn to get the vaccine. When you think about the logistical feat that now the federal and state governments are undertaking, where if every citizen ultimately requires two doses and with a population of over 300 million, it’s beyond comprehension when you start to begin to think about the logistical challenges of transporting and distributing this vaccine.”

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran forward Quincy Miller has signed overseas in Portugal with Benfica, he announced on social media, as relayed by Ricardo Brito Reis of Sport TV (Twitter link). Miller last played in the NBA with Sacramento and Detroit during the 2014/15 season, also holding experience with Denver. He appeared in 69 total games after being drafted No. 38 overall in 2012.
  • Free agent guard Jawun Evans has signed in Greece with Promitheas Patras, according to EuroBasket (Twitter link). Evans, 24, most recently played in the NBA G League with Toronto, making past NBA stops with the Clippers, Suns and Thunder. He was the No. 39 pick in 2017 after spending two seasons at Oklahoma State.
  • Villanova has paused all basketball activities after head coach Jay Wright and another staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com writes. Wright, 59, is now in isolation with mild symptoms. “Our players have been very diligent and disciplined with all of the COVID protocols,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have had two staff members test positive. I am one of them. My symptoms are mild, and we remain connected as a team and staff by phone and Zoom. I am grateful to our Team Physician, Dr. Mike Duncan, who has worked tirelessly to help guide us safely through this.”  

Jay Wright Won’t Consider Sixers’ Coaching Job

Jay Wright has taken himself out of the running in the Sixers‘ coaching search. The Villanova head coach posted a statement on Twitter this afternoon announcing that he plans to remain at the school and won’t be a candidate for the NBA job.

“Out of respect for our Villanova community and our 76ers organization, I feel the need to address speculation about the 76ers head coaching position,” it reads. “The 76ers have a great leader in (general manager) Elton Brand, outstanding young talent and an incredible opportunity for any coach to compete for a championship. As a lifetime 76ers fan, I have confidence they will bring in the right coach to build on what Brett Brown has developed. 

“I am not a candidate for the job. I am very happy and honored to coach at Villanova.”

Speculation involving Wright began when Philadelphia dismissed Brown as head coach last week. Wright has spent the past 19 years at Villanova, compiling a 472-182 record and winning two NCAA championships.

Mutual Interest Between Tyronn Lue, Sixers

Having dismissed Brett Brown, the Sixers are set to embark on a search for a new head coach, and Tyronn Lue is expected to be a focal point of that search, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Lue’s ability to challenge and command the respect of star players appeals to the Sixers, as does his championship experience, Wojnarowski writes. Chris Mannix of SI.com reports (via Twitter) that there’s mutual interest between Lue and the 76ers, a point reiterated by Woj (via Twitter).

According to Mannix, Philadelphia could have the inside track to hire the current Clippers assistant, who is expected to be a popular target for teams seeking a head coach. Lue, who won a title in Cleveland in 2016, has been linked to the Nets’ and Pelicans’ openings, and may also receive consideration from the Rockets if they decide to make a change.

While Lue may be the top candidate on the Sixers’ wish list, the team is expected to conduct a more expansive search, according to Wojnarowski, who cites Villanova coach Jay Wright as another potential target. Philadelphia is expected to gauge Wright’s interest in leaving the Wildcats for the NBA, sources tell ESPN.

Both Lue and Wright were identified earlier today by Shams Charania of The Athletic as likely candidates for the Sixers once they moved on from Brown. Charania also named former Grizzlies and Kings coach Dave Joerger and current 76ers assistant Ime Udoka as names to watch as Philadelphia begins its search for Brown’s replacement.

Wojnarowski reported earlier this afternoon that the Sixers are poised to make some changes to their front office personnel and structure. General manager Elton Brand is expected to retain control of the team’s basketball operations during that process, so presumably the coaching search could begin before those front office changes are completed.

Sixers Considered Unlikely To Retain Brett Brown

Following a quick playoff exit, the Sixers are widely expected to part ways with head coach Brett Brown, according to multiple reports.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Brown, who has two years remaining on his contract, has no “internal momentum” to return for another season; Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports wrote that the anticipation within coaching circles is that the Sixers will part with Brown in the coming days; and Shams Charania of The Athletic cited multiple sources with knowledge of the situation in reporting that the 76ers are expected to make a coaching change.

Sources tell Haynes that Brown “never grabbed full command” of the locker room during his time as the Sixers’ head coach. As Haynes details, Al Horford expressed frustration earlier this season about not having a defined role communicated to him, and some people in the locker room have questioned Brown’s handling of rookie Matisse Thybulle, who has seen his minutes fluctuate drastically at times. Josh Richardson also expressed on Sunday that “more accountability” is necessary going forward, per Sacha Pisani of Sporting News.

“I don’t think there was much accountability this season and I think that was part of our problem,” Richardson said. “… (When) guys are not doing their job on or off the court, there’s got to be some kind of consequence — not consequence, but we’ve got to be able to talk to each other and listen. And not (just) listen to say something back, but actually hear (each other). It’s a hard lesson to learn for some people, but in order for us to make this playoff run that I think we all want, I know we all want, it’s got to start.”

Until the Sixers officially make a decision on Brown, it’s probably too early to identify frontrunners for the job. But Charania hears from sources that Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, former Kings coach Dave Joerger, and Villanova coach Jay Wright are among the names to watch.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • There’s an expectation that the 76ers remain committed to the Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons duo and plan to let the next head coach figure out how to maximize the two stars, according to Shams Charania. Within his preview of Philadelphia’s offseason, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) explains why he thinks it makes sense for the team to keep both Embiid and Simmons.
  • While Brown figures to be dismissed, he’s not the reason the Sixers have come up short in recent postseasons, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, who assigns more of the blame to the team’s front office. Charania suggests that no front office shake-up is imminent though, writing that GM Elton Brand has maintained a healthy relationship with team ownership.
  • Tim Bontemps of ESPN passes along some of Brown’s post-game comments from Sunday, while Brian Windhorst of ESPN does the same for Embiid. As Bontemps details, Brown told reporters that he feels as if he never got a chance to show his full potential as a coach due to the injuries that plagued the Sixers over the years.
  • According to Chris Haynes, the 76ers were prepared to offer Jimmy Butler a maximum-salary contract in the summer of 2019 if he agreed not to take any recruiting visits. However, Butler – who was “lukewarm” on the idea of re-signing with Philadelphia – didn’t agree to that condition. Haynes adds that Brown didn’t love how “outspoken” Butler was with his coaching tactics.

Atlantic Notes: Burks, Wright, Knicks, Simmons

Sixers head coach Brett Brown explained his plan for Alec Burks, who made his first real impact for Philadelphia on Thursday night against the Nets.

“I’m looking at him is sort of instant offense type off the bench he can be given the ball can be put in pick-and-rolls,” Brown said (via Heavy.com). “I like him more probably in the middle of the floor with the pick and roll than the sideline with the pick-and-roll I think that he can be a primary ball carrier for a while.”

Burks, who came to the Sixers along with Glenn Robinson III at the trade deadline, has spent 44 minutes on the court so far in his Sixers’ career.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Villanova head coach Jay Wright simply isn’t interested in the Knicks‘ coaching job, as Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays (Twitter link).I haven’t talked to the Knicks, I’m not going to the Knicks. It’s crazy,” Wright said.
  • Ben Simmons is probable for the Sixers‘ matchup with Milwaukee on Saturday night, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Simmons missed Thursday’s contest against Brooklyn with back tightness.
  • Zach Braziller of the New York Post details how interim coach Mike Miller is handling the situation with the Knicks. “If we help these guys and we continue to grow and get better, then we’ve done our job,” Miller said. “All I’m concerned about is bringing value to it and helping these guys. As simple as it sounds, I did that for six years as a D-League [and] G-League coach and I felt good at the end of every season. That’s the direction that I take.”

Knicks Notes: Wright, Thibodeau, Rose, Perry

Although the Knicks reportedly have strong interest in Jay Wright, it doesn’t appear as if the Villanova head coach reciprocates that interest, as we outlined earlier this week.

A report on Monday suggested Wright has no plans to leave his post at Villanova, and Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears a similar sentiment from an NCAA source, who says Wright would have to be “overwhelmed by the opportunity” to even consider leaving his current job.

While Wright may not be a realistic target for the Knicks as they seek a permanent head coach this spring, veteran NBA coach Tom Thibodeau – who is expected to receive consideration – sounds much more open to being courted. A Thibodeau “confidant” tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that the former Bulls and Timberwolves head coach would be very interested in the Knicks’ position.

“He really wants the Knick job,” the source told Berman. “He can taste it and he may even be in the lead.”

Considering the Knicks haven’t even yet announced Leon Rose as their new president of basketball operations, it may be premature to declare a frontrunner for the team’s head coaching job, but Thibodeau’s ties with Rose at CAA should help make him a contender.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • In a separate New York Post article, Berman says that Dwyane Wade‘s three-day retirement celebration with the Heat this weekend is one reason Rose’s hiring by the Knicks has been delayed. As Berman explains, Rose helped plan the event for Wade, a longtime CAA client.
  • Once Rose is officially installed as the Knicks’ new president of basketball operations, he’ll have a handful of pressing items on his to-do list, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Besides the head coaching search, Rose will have to plan for the draft and free agency, hire basketball operations staffers, and – perhaps most importantly – set boundaries with team owner James Dolan.
  • In a story about Knicks branding consultant Steve Stoute making an appearance at All-Star weekend, Berman of The New York Post notes that interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry remains “in the dark” about his future – or lack thereof – with the organization.

Knicks Interested In Jay Wright

2:10pm: A source tells Dana O’Neil of The Athletic (Twitter link) that Wright isn’t going anywhere. That doesn’t mean the Knicks won’t take a shot this spring, but it sounds like their potential pursuit might play out the same way it did in 2018.

9:35am: The Knicks, who figure to be in the market for a new head coach this spring, have strong interest in Villanova coach Jay Wright, sources tell Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

“There is a strong possibility that Jay Wright in New York could happen,” one league source told Zagoria.

Wright, who has been Villanova’s head coach since 2001 and is an assistant on Gregg Popovich‘s Team USA staff, has been linked to the Knicks in the past. The team reportedly reached out to Wright before hiring David Fizdale in 2018. At the time, the Wildcats were coming off a national title, their second in three years. Wright said that spring that the NBA piqued his interest, but he had no desire to leave Villanova.

“It’s not that you’re not interested, I just don’t want to leave,” Wright told The New York Post in 2018. “It’s the Knicks. You love the Garden, you love New York City, you love the Knicks. I just know I don’t want to leave Villanova.”

If the Knicks pursue Wright again, it’s possible the veteran college coach will repeat that line from two years ago. However, it’s worth noting that Wright has ties with Leon Rose and William Wesley, as Zagoria details in his story. Rose is on track to become the Knicks’ new president of basketball operations. “World Wide Wes” reportedly won’t join the franchise in a formal capacity, but may be an unofficial advisor.

The Knicks have also been linked to some other big-name head coaching candidates, including Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau. Although interim head coach Mike Miller seems unlikely to remain in his current role, there’s support within the organization to keep him around in some capacity, according to one report.

Sixers Have Interest In Robert Covington, Other Players

The Sixers are parsing the trade market for reinforcements who can shoot the ball. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Philadelphia has expressed interest in several role players, including Malik Beasley, Glenn Robinson III, Davis Bertans, E’Twaun Moore, and Andre Iguodala. O’Connor adds that the team has also inquired on Robert Covington, whom the team dealt away in the Jimmy Butler deal last season.

Most of those names, including Covington, are truly available. The price for Minnesota’s wing is expected to be high and with Philadelphia void of shiny assets, GM Elton Brand will have to get creative if he is going to bring back Sam Hinkie’s former gem.

Zhaire Smith is the young prospect the team is most willing to part with. Rivals teams have more interest in Matisse Thybulle, though Philadelphia is reluctant to deal the No. 20 overall pick. The franchise owns all of its own draft picks starting in the 2021 draft, so the Sixers could attempt to sweeten any deal with a future asset.

Other names on that list could be more obtainable than RoCo. It’ll be tough to pry Bertans from Washington, as the team can envision him as a long-term piece, but Iguodala, Moore, and Robinson are in obvious selling situations. Denver won’t be a seller at the trade deadline, but with a deep rotation and Beasley’s impending restricted free agency, the franchise is smartly assessing the market for the shooting guard.

Here’s more on Philadelphia.

  • O’Connor contends that the Sixers should consider making a bigger move for Chris Paul, swapping either Tobias Harris or Al Horford and additional salary for the 34-year-old point guard. However, the scribe hears that Harris and Horford, each of whom signed long-term deals this offseason, aren’t any more tradeable than CP3.
  • Trading Simmons doesn’t appear likely, in part because it would mean “putting all your superstar eggs in the Embiid basket,” and the big man has had a shaky injury history. O’ Connor wonders if Simmons would be the one the team decides to build around if forced to choose between the two.
  • Big changes will likely come with an early exit in the playoffs, though many around the game believe it would be Brett Brown who takes the fall in that scenario. There were rumblings that former team president Bryan Colangelo was planning to fire Brown and replace him with Villanova coach Jay Wright, but that was before Twittergate. Still, O’Connor hears from multiple sources that Brown didn’t have the best relationship with the locker room last season.