• One Big Thing: The Coolest Class

    Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming has to be one of the more compelling Hall of Fame classes around.

    There’s so much to unpack there; game changing, world shaping stuff from all parties. Beyond that, from an emotional standpoint, these guys all brought a unique personality to the game and continue to add to the basketball community in their retirements.

    It’s also great that Sheryl Swoopes gets to represent women’s basketball in this class; she’s an icon in the game and has definitely done her part to grow the sport.

    Across the class, there’s a pervasive sense of cool. From a neutral fan perspective, Shaq, Yao and AI are all easy to root for. The things they could do on the court were unlike anything else.

    Before I get too far I want to point out that there have been some bad looks from these guys at one point or another, and it’s important that we recognize the flaws in the people we honor and laud. Nobody’s perfect and the class of 2016 is no exception. My appreciation for their on-court exploits and off-court personality doesn’t excuse any warts that can be found. But I digress.

    Shaq’s persona has aged well and he’ll always have a place at some analyst desk or reality TV chair. It almost belies just how much of a generational talent he was. Much like there will one day be kids who only know Michael Jordan as the crying man from the internet, there will be kids who only know Shaq as the guy who banters with Charles Barkley on TNT (who himself will be the man who can’t say most names).

    Shaq might have been the most unstoppable force on the face of the earth during his prime. Truly untouchable with a penchant for charming fans and media alike, it’s hard not to appreciate everything he accomplished.

    Shaq’s legacy comes with the wrinkle of forcing Laker fans to take sides. His well-chronicled beef with Kobe is the stuff of hot take dreams. Two of the biggest personalities the sport has ever seen couldn’t manage to coexist despite constant, unceasing winning. Mercifully it happened a decade before Twitter, but it’s still an odd twist to a legendary career.

    AI was magic, man. Silky smooth and as big a braggadocio as the come. Vine was made for Allen Iverson- they just got their timelines crossed up.

    Basketball is one of those sports where you can do everything perfectly on defense and still come up short. AI was among the best at back breakers, rising up and dropping buckets over defenders who hung with all the crosses and hesitations, only to have a perfect shot drop over a perfect contest. He made it seem like half the guys on the court were playing on ice.

    His performance in taking the Sixers to the finals is the stuff of legends. The Answer had the clutch shots, the unreal handle and a heavenly ability to float through the lane and hang for acrobatic hoops. Nobody should be that quick, be able to see the court like that, fly that high and hang that long. Iverson was truly unfair.

    Yao might not have the sheer highlight or sound bite material of the other two, but his significance to the game of basketball is nearly unparalleled. If you’re looking for a reason as to why basketball has become such a worldwide phenomenon, Yao’s a pretty good one.

    Connecting two sides of the world with his 7’5” wingspan, his arrival signaled the NBA’s global takeover. While the on-court career doesn’t match up with Shaq’s or Iverson’s, his ability to turn people around the world into basketball fans will have an everlasting impact.

    That’s not to say his career numbers are bad, either. They’re quite good. It’s just a shame that his career ended so early.

    It’s also a bit of a shame that Yao didn’t fully showcase his personality during his NBA run. We got a little of it in his induction speech but he could’ve been a bona fide quote machine. My favorite comes from an old interview when Yao is asked whether he’d drop 30 points or 30 blocks after the interviewer learns he’s had 17 swats in a game before:

    “I’d take the 30 blocks. If you have 30 blocks it will destroy your opponents’ morale. It will take away their heart.”

    That’s amazing.

    There’s just a whole lot to like about three of the newest names in the Hall. Basketball, and really life as a whole, is better with these giant personalities. Thanks, Class of 2016. Keep it real.

Fantasy News

  • Vincent Poirier
    C, Boston Celtics

    The Celtics have announced the signing of Vincent Poirier.

    Poirier joins the Celtics after six professional seasons in Europe and is believed to be on a two-year deal. Last season he averaged 10.5 points (61.6 percent shooting), 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 blocked shots in 73 games between EuroLeague and Liga ACB competition. Poirier figures to be battling Daniel Theis and Robert Williams for playing time behind Enes Kanter and doesn't have much fantasy appeal.

    Source: Boston Celtics

  • Ben Simmons
    PG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Ben Simmons has agreed to a five-year, $170 max contract extension with the Sixers.

    The Sixers reportedly offered up the deal a couple weeks ago and the sides have been ironing out the details since. It's not surprising that things resolved quickly, and Philly wasted no time in giving Simmons huge money. He's a jump shot away from being truly elite. For fantasy purposes, until we see Simmons either hit some threes or improve his free throw shooting, he remains a prime over-draft candidate. The stat set holes are simply too impactful to select the talented young guard before the third round.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • William Howard
    F, Utah Jazz

    The Jazz have a verbal agreement to sign French forward William Howard, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

    Howard is a 25-year-old from Montbrison, France who spent the last two seasons with Limoges in France's LNB Pro A. He averaged 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.4 threes per game, shooting .411 from the field in 24.9 mpg. While last season saw Howard post career-low marks from deep, he is a .364 3-point shooter across five seasons in the LNB Pro A. It's unlikely that Howard plays much for the Jazz this season.

    Source: Eric Walden on Twitter

  • Wesley Matthews
    SG, Milwaukee Bucks

    Michael Scotto of The Athletic is reporting that Wesley Matthews' deal with the Bucks is for two years and $5.3 million, with a player option on the second season.

    Matthews was initially reported to be heading to Milwaukee on a one-year deal for the minimum, and that may still essentially be the case given the likelihood that Matthews opts out if he has a strong season. Either way, it's a nice piece of business for the Bucks, who get a 3-and-D wing player at a very affordable price. Matthews is shaping up as a low-end source of threes and steals, as he typically does.

    Source: Michael Scotto on Twitter

  • Andre Iguodala
    SF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Shams Charania is reporting that the Clippers and the Rockets are the two teams still "strongly pursuing" Andre Iguodala in trade talks.

    Charania adds that the Mavs and the Nuggets have also engaged Memphis but those discussions never gained much traction. The Rockets are hesitant to increase their tax bill while the Clippers don't want to part with Moe Harkless, who is the only player on the roster that represents a salary match. If either of these two teams wants to execute a trade, it looks like it will require another team.

    Source: Stadium on Twitter

  • Alize Johnson
    PF, Indiana Pacers

    The second-year option for Alize Johnson has been fully guaranteed.

    Johnson, who put up an excellent performance at Summer League, will make $1.4 million this season. He is unlikely to play much but the Pacers have been consistent in their view that he is a player worth developing over the long-term.

    Source: Indianapolis Star

  • JR Smith
    SG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Cavs are expected to waive J.R. Smith on Monday if no last-minute trade emerges, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

    It would be shocking if someone went out and traded for Smith, who will be guaranteed $4 million of his $15 million salary. The Lakers have already been mentioned as a potential landing spot, and Smith doesn't figure to have a ton of teams eager to sign him after the way last season went off the rails.

    Source: Joe Vardon on Twitter

  • Duncan Robinson
    F, Miami Heat

    The Heat will be picking up Duncan Robinson's $1 million guarantee for the upcoming season.

    Robinson played well throughout Summer League and will now officially be on the roster. He only appeared in 15 games last season, and although he's showed some promise Robinson will likely need another trade to go down to open up a serious shot at playing time.

    Source: Tim Reynolds on Twitter

  • Henry Ellenson
    PF, Brooklyn Nets

    Henry Ellenson has signed a two-way contract with the Nets.

    Ellenson left the Knicks in Summer League due to personal reasons, but the former lottery pick has resurfaced with the other New York team. He'll give the Nets someone who can provide stretch four play in a pinch, but odds are he'll spend most of his time in the G-League. Time is running out for Ellenson to establish himself as an NBA player.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Anthony Davis has decided not to participate in Team USA training camp and has withdrawn from FIBA World Cup consideration.

    Davis has chosen to spend his offseason preparing for what he hopes is a championship run with the Lakers this season. AD is still a go for the 2020 Olympics and he'll be at training camp to support his teammates, but he won't be on the court with them. At least he's well-versed in that move from his days with the Pelicans.

    Source: Yahoo Sports