Paul Pierce

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.

Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace Reportedly Part Of 2021 Hall Of Fame Class

Ahead of Sunday’s official announcement, two names of the 2021 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class have been reported: Ben Wallace and Paul Pierce.

Sources told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that the legendary defensive stalwart Wallace will be enshrined, while Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported Pierce’s induction.

It’s a well-deserved honor for both men who were crucial pieces of championships teams in the 2000s. Wallace, 46, was a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a key component to the Pistons’ 2004 NBA Finals victory over the Lakers. The four-time All-Star was best known for his stint in Detroit where his No. 3 jersey hangs retired in the rafters.

Wallace was a standout at Virginia Union in the mid-1990s before going undrafted and signing with the then-Washington Bullets. While he had stops with the Bullets/Wizards, Magic, Cavaliers, and Bulls, Wallace spent nine of his 16 NBA seasons with the Pistons.

As for Pierce, he was a 19-year NBA veteran best known for his successful stint as a member of the Celtics. After his junior season at the University of Kansas, Pierce was drafted 10th overall by the Celtics in 1998 and quickly emerged as one of the NBA’s brightest young stars. Pierce’s early success led to Shaquille O’Neal dubbing him as “The Truth,” a moniker he carries to this day.

Pierce made his first NBA All-Star team in his fourth NBA season and would go on to be a 10-time All-Star. He helped lead the Celtics to a 2008 NBA championship alongside fellow stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Boston made another NBA Finals with Pierce in 2010 but lost to the Lakers in seven games.

Pierce’s 15-year run in Boston ended with a high-profile trade to the Nets in 2013, which has become infamous for Brooklyn’s massive overpay for just one disappointing season with Pierce and Garnett. Pierce finished his career with stops in Washington and Los Angeles before retiring following the 2016/17 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today 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: Hall Of Fame Nominees, G League, Extensions, More

Longtime Celtics forward Paul Pierce and former NBA player and head coach Doug Collins are among those eligible for the first time to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, writes ESPN’s Royce Young.

Pierce and Collins are joined as this year’s first-time nominees by former Defensive Player of the Year Michael Cooper and three-time WNBA Most Valuable Player Lauren Jackson, along with Howard Garfinkel, Lou Henson, Val Ackerman, and Yolanda Griffith. Those new nominees will be added to a list of returning candidates that includes Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, and Becky Hammon, among others.

While the 2020 Hall of Fame class – headlined by Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett – won’t be enshrined until May due to coronavirus-related delays, the 2021 class is scheduled to be unveiled in early April, with a September induction ceremony to follow.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link) hears from a source that the NBA G League may be targeting February 8 for the start of its shortened season. Training camps would begin at a bubble site – possibly in Atlanta – on January 29 in that scenario, Bondy adds.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) examines what’s next for the players who didn’t sign rookie scale extensions on Monday and takes a look at some players who will still be candidates for veteran extensions during the season, including new Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and Rockets forward P.J. Tucker.
  • The NBA’s decision to rescind the Bucks‘ 2022 second-round pick after finding evidence that they jumped the gun on negotiations with Bogdan Bogdanovic last month is a relative slap on the wrist, but still represents a noticeable step up over past penalties for tampering, Jared Weiss writes for The Athletic. The league made it a priority starting in 2019 to crack down on such violations.
  • Basketball junkies will enjoy the 2020/21 version of Niku Mistry’s annual NBA Almanac, a 300-page guide that recaps last season’s results – along with each offseason transaction – and includes team-by-team breakdowns for the coming year.

NBA, ESPN Announce Details Of H-O-R-S-E Competition

As expected, Thunder guard Chris PaulHawks guard Trae Young, and Bulls guard Zach LaVine are among the players who will participate in the H-O-R-S-E competition being organized by the NBA, NBPA, and ESPN, per a press release.

According to the announcement, Jazz guard Mike Conley, former NBA stars Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce, newly-elected Hall-of-Famer Tamika Catchings, and three-time WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley will fill out the eight-person field for the event.

The four quarterfinal matchups will air on Sunday evening (April 12), with Young facing Billups and Catchings facing Conley in group one, while LaVine goes up against Pierce and Paul squares off against Quigley in group two. The group one winners will face one another in the first semifinal next Thursday (April 16), with the group two winners competing in the second semifinal. The final will take place on the same night.

A coin toss will determine which player starts each matchup. Each player will be required to describe his or her shot attempt beforehand and dunking won’t be permitted. ESPN’s Mark Jones will serve as the event’s host, with each player attempting shots from his or her own home gym.

The event will raise more than $200K in support of coronavirus relief efforts.

And-Ones: BIG3, Pierce, Free Agency, VanVleet

With the BIG3 planning to hold a quarantined basketball tournament that will double as a ‘Big Brother’-style reality show, Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight spoke to UCLA infectious disease epidemiologist Anne Rimoin to get a sense of whether the league’s plans are realistic. Dr. Rimoin is unconvinced that the BIG3’s testing process will be thorough enough and skeptical that the format of the event would be viable.

“Even if you test them (for COVID-19), they could be incubating for up to 14 days,” she said. “They would need to be in complete isolation, put in an isolation chamber — meaning no contact with anybody — for 14 days prior. They wouldn’t be allowed to have contact with anybody during that period, or while they’re playing. That’s the science of it. But I don’t see that happening. These people have families, friends. They might need to get groceries.”

Dr. Arthur Reingold told Herring that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health may also need to give the green light to the BIG3’s plan, so there will be hurdles for the league to overcome if it wants to hold its quarantined tournament.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Appearing on ESPN’s The Jump (video link), Paul Pierce claimed he was intrigued by the idea of playing in the BIG3’s tournament, given the rumored seven-figure prize and the fact that it may take place in Los Angeles. His former Celtics teammate and fellow ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins, meanwhile, argued that the tournament shouldn’t even take place.
  • In an in-depth Insider piece for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks previews the offseason questions facing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down each club’s needs, draft assets, cap situation, and free-agents-to-be.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes an early look at the free agent market for point guards this offseason. With no max-caliber players expected to be available, Leroux identifies Fred VanVleet and Mike Conley as the players most likely to do better than the mid-level. Of course, Conley has a $34.5MM early termination option for 2020/21, so he seems like a good bet to put off free agency for another year.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Irving, Grousbeck, Baynes, Horford

Former Celtic Paul Pierce believes Jayson Tatum would reach his All-Star potential if he drove to the basket more often, as he told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

“For a guy with his athleticism, his skill set and his ball-handling, his height, he should be a guy that gets to the line at least six times a night and makes five out of six,” Pierce said. “That’ll take him from a 16-point scorer to a 20-point scorer, and he’ll be in the conversation for All-Star every year on a winning team.”

Pierce also believes Tatum won’t fully blossom until he’s relied upon as a primary scorer.

“Look at James Harden,” he said. “We didn’t know James Harden was going to be this until he went to Houston. He was the sixth man on OKC. Now he’s a perennial MVP and arguably the best player in the league.”

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Kyrie Irving’s decision in free agency could be decided by how the postseason plays out, Bulpett speculates in the same article. While events during the season have seemingly tilted the odds in favor of Irving signing elsewhere, that could change if the team makes a deep run, Bulpett adds.
  • Danny Ainge attributed a seemingly critical comment by Irving against the coaching staff as frustration after a loss. Charlotte’s Kemba Walker scored 36 points against Boston in a recent loss and Irving said they should have trapped Walker more often. Ainge’s response came on a radio interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” and was relayed by Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston“I did hear (Irving’s comments). It’s not that uncommon,” the GM said. “Guys get frustrated, and maybe that was the first thing that came to his mind is, ‘We should have done something different with Kemba.'”
  • Owner Wyc Grousbeck believes the team can flip the switch during the postseason, he told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. Grousbeck admits the team has underachieved but still believes better days are ahead. “We have not played at an elite level this year,” Grousbeck said. “We have to admit that at the moment. We’re in fifth place in the East. It’d be great to take that step now, or we’ll try to take it next year if we have to. But what I’m seeing, with the playoffs around the corner, I’m going to go into the playoffs with good energy and optimism and seeing what happens.”
  • Pairing Al Horford and Aron Baynes can give the Celtics more toughness inside but it would only work against certain lineups, as coach Brad Stevens explains to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg“With their size and length, I think we have a different impact at the rim. But when you’re playing a team that’s super small and spread out, that’s tough to guard when you have a more traditional lineup.”

And-Ones: Pierce, Josh Smith, Morris Twins

After announcing his retirement from the NBA following the 2016/17 season, 10-time All-Star Paul Pierce has lined up a new job. According to a press release issued today by ESPN, Pierce is joining the network as a studio analyst for the upcoming season. The longtime NBA forward will appear regularly on ESPN’s NBA Countdown and The Jump.

“I always had fun doing guest coverage with ESPN, so it is exciting to officially join the teams at NBA Countdown and The Jump,” Pierce said in a statement. “I love hoops, my whole life has been about the game, so this feels like a natural evolution in my career and I can’t wait for the season to get started.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • As he continues to look for an NBA opportunity, veteran forward Josh Smith has caught on with Israeli team Maccabi Hunter Haifa for a three-game tour against NBA teams this October, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando details. Smith worked out for the Pelicans and has been linked to the Rockets this offseason, but hasn’t landed an NBA contract.
  • Closing arguments in the assault trial involving Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris are expected to be heard by jurors today, per an Associated Press report (link via USA Today). Depending on the outcome of the trial, the Wizards and Celtics forwards could face NBA discipline, not to mention possible jail time.
  • While not every player to change teams this offseason moved to a better situation, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated identifies seven players whose new NBA homes should pay dividends. Kyrie Irving (Celtics), Paul George (Thunder), and Nick Young (Warriors) are among Spears’ picks.
  • After seeing how long it took for a number of restricted free agents to secure new contracts this offseason, a number of extension-eligible players may be more inclined to get deals done now, rather than taking their chances on the RFA market next summer, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) writes in his latest breakdown of NBA roster moves. T.J. Warren of the Suns was the first player to complete such a deal this week.

Billy King Looks Back On Tenure With Nets

Former Nets GM Billy King, who is widely blamed for turning the organization into a perennial loser with no lottery picks, tells his side of the story in an interview with The Glue Guys, a Nets-themed podcast.

King touches on several controversial issues in the 45-minute session, including an effort to acquire Chris Paul, the failure to get Dwight Howard when he wanted to join the Nets and the ill-fated trade that sent three unprotected first-rounders to Boston for a package centered around veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

The highlights:

  • King tried to get Paul from New Orleans before dealing with Utah for Deron Williams. King believed he was making progress, but the deal went cold after Jeff Bowers was replaced as GM by Dell Demps. “At that time, I don’t think Dell wanted his first thing to be trading Chris Paul,” King said.
  • The Nets believed they were close to acquiring Howard from Orlando just before the 2012 trade deadline. “We went to bed as a staff — we left the office pretty late — we went to bed pretty much knowing that tomorrow we’re going to get Dwight,” King said. Magic GM Otis Smith had planned to finalize the deal the next morning, but King woke up to a text saying that Howard had elected to opt in for the following season. King reached out to Howard’s agent, who responded, “I don’t think he did,” and even Smith hadn’t heard the news when King called him. However, Smith returned the call an hour later and confirmed the news.
  • The Nets responded by trading their 2012 first-round pick to Portland in exchange for Gerald Wallace in an attempt to appease Williams and discourage him from opting out over the summer. The Blazers used that pick to draft Damian Lillard.
  • King reached out to the Celtics in 2013 because he thought he had a talented nucleus that needed veteran leadership and was interested in acquiring Pierce. Negotiations led to Garnett and Jason Terry being included and the package of picks going to Boston.
  • King made an offer to Pierce in the summer of 2014, but he got a better deal from Washington and the Nets decided not to match it. “Once that decision was made, I think it changed our thought process,” King said. “I think some of the players even thought, ‘What’s going on here? We were committed and now we’re not.” King added that he wouldn’t have made the deal with Boston if he knew he couldn’t keep Pierce longer than one season.

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Crowder, Zeller

While the Celtics won’t struggle to replace the statistics that Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder posted, they’ll be hard-pressed to find a replacement for the toughness and temperament they brought to Boston, A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSN New England writes.

Both Thomas and Crowder took their careers to a new level in Boston, blossoming into substantial core pieces for the rejuvenated Celtics. Some of the franchise’s best moments from the past few seasons, Blakeley writes, can be attributed directly to the twosome.

That underdog mentality was and is a major component for any team looking to unseat LeBron James and Cleveland in the East. Now Thomas and Crowder will bring that tough, scrappy frame of mind with them to a Cavaliers squad that’s looking like an underdog itself — at least compared to the champions in Golden State.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Prior to signing Tyler Zeller this week, the Nets had just two players taller than 6’8″ on their roster, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes.
  • The Raptors doubled down on a winning formula this summer but it may be for naught, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. Toronto’s core is intact, but what they could really benefit from is the development of some of their young assets.
  • Count former Celtics great Paul Pierce among those high on Jayson Tatum. The future Hall of Famer told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England that the rookie, with his footwork and step-back, reminds him of himself toward the later stages of his career.