DA's Morning Tip

Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on future Hall of Famers, Mario Hezonja and more

David Aldridge

A Penny for Your Thoughts. From Nick Ivory:

I appreciate your write up on Chris Webber, he’s always been one of my favorites. I have another guy who I think should be in the hall because of your two-question criteria: Penny Hardaway. When you talk about overall basketball contributions, he averaged 36.6 ppg and 10.1 rpg in high school and, in college, he changed the atmosphere at then Memphis State as a two-time All American

In the NBA, he was a four-time All-Star, a two-time All-NBA first team member and made an All-NBA third team, too. He also led the Magic to The Finals in his second season. These things you know, of course, but I just wish that people would understand his impact on the game as well. His numbers overall aren’t the greatest due to injuries but neither are Bill Walton’s. It would be great to see a similar write-up on my guy, Penny Hardaway.

You can certainly make a case for Penny, Nick. Based on my Andrew Toney Test described last week, even though Penny’s elite days as a pro were limited because of injury, he was surely dominant when he was healthy. He and Shaq were pretty dominant in those years when the Magic made The Finals and were the only Eastern Conference team in seven years to beat a Bulls team with Michael Jordan on it. Humbly, I would say C-Webb has a better case than Penny, though, based on his high school and college play/influence as well as what he did in the pros.

I Fail Geography, Part MCMXXXVII. From James Allen:

Hi David. Just a small quibble with your description of Igor Kokoskov as the “first international-born NBA head coach” (I am Canadian and quibbling is what we do). Surely by that definition he is the second after Jay Triano, who was the Raptors head coach in 2009-10 and held the position on an interim basis the season before following the firing of Sam Mitchell. Some day he may get a chance to coach a team that isn’t terrible.

You prove, yet again, that when it comes to the nations of the world, I remain a dope. Thank you, James.

Super Mario? From Danny Milmore:

Mario Hezonja is young, talented and comes at a team-friendly price. Many consider him to be a bust, but I’m excited to see what he can do in New York. What kind of impact will Hezonja have on the Knicks? Approximately how many minutes per game can fans expect from him?

I’m a Courtney Lee fan, but really don’t believe he should play more than someone 10 years younger him as the team rebuilds. But, the Knicks are the Knicks so I’m worried they’ll misuse Hezonja.

I think Hezonja can help the Knicks as well, Danny. He had a strong second half offensively last season in Orlando, and despite his ups and downs with the Magic, he remains a still-intriguing package at 23 in a prove-it season. Don’t have a feel for minutes just yet; it’s hard to predict before knowing who comes to camp in shape, whether New York has anything cooking trade-wise (including for Lee), etc. But: in David Fizdale’s one full season in Memphis, he got minutes for wings like James Ennis, and Fizdale is huge on player development. Also, GM Scott Perry pushed for Hezonja while he was an executive with the Magic. So he’ll get every chance in New York, maybe alongside Lee, who’s a much better defender and could help cover for Hezonja on cross-matches.

Send your questions, comments and other times where stickum would come in handy to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If your e-mail is funny, thought-provoking or snarky, we just might publish it!


5 – Number of Celtics players — Kyrie irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford — ranked among Sports Illustrated’s preseason Top 50 (the magazine’s Top 100 list is here). That total is the most of any team in the league. Even Golden State only had four of its five starters make the list; Houston (James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon) also put four in the Top 50.

57 — Total games played in two seasons in Los Angeles by Luol Deng, who signed with the Timberwolves last week after reaching a settlement with the Lakers on the remaining two years and $32 million he was due from the team. The 33-year-old Deng maintains he’s healthy after numerous injuries.

1,088 — Career games played by Ben Wallace, the NBA’s all-time leader in games played by a player who went undrafted. Among active players, Detroit’s Jose Calderon is the next-highest undrafted player with 846 career games played; Miami’s Udonis Haslem, who officially re-signed with the Heat last week for a 16th season in South Florida, is right behind Calderon at 844 career games.


1) One last dance, D-Wade? I can go for that.

2) The Magic will be getting a good one in Bill Pope if he, as The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported last week, goes to Orlando as its new director of pro personnel, after years in Sacramento in a similar position with the Kings. A basketball lifer, Pope was manager of the 1988 national championship Kansas team, and has excelled in a variety of jobs in coaching and scouting ever since. Good hire.

3) Kudos to Kenny Anderson, who took the head coaching job at Fisk University last week.

4) One of the most clever uses of team social media I’ve ever seen. Kudos to the Stars.



1) Jimmy Butler’s unhappiness in Minnesota will reportedly be addressed today in a meeting between him, Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden. I’m told, though, that while Butler has serious questions about the direction of the franchise, he’s still willing to hear Minnesota out, and isn’t dead set on demanding a trade elsewhere. Stay tuned.

2) Not arguing the merits of this case. I don’t have an opinion on who was wrong and who was right; you may have, and I’m not going to argue with you either way. I’m just saying the NBA should try — or, continue, if it’s already tried — to make things right with this woman who still feels so obviously wronged.

3) Condolences to the family of longtime NBA assistant coach Don Newman, who died at age 60 last week after battling cancer. Newman worked in San Antonio, Milwaukee, New Jersey and Washington during his NBA career, which followed head coaching stints in college at Arizona State and Sacramento State. DNew was a good dude, and he will be missed.

4) Prayers for the Carolinas. Time, money, everything is needed. Give whatever you can.


— Rockets guard Michael Carter-Williams (@MCW1), Sunday, 12:07 a.m., after the latest controversial boxing decision — this one going to middleweight Canelo Alvarez, by majority decision, over Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, giving Alvarez the undisputed middleweight title.


“My finger shook a lot before hitting that ‘enter.’ After 23 seasons of doing this, it was hard to put the last nail in that coffin.”

Manu Ginobili, to San Antonio reporters Saturday, in his first public comments since announcing his retirement in August. The 41-year-old said he just couldn’t see himself doing what it took to get ready for another season, though he had kept the door for potentially returning in 2018-19 slightly ajar after the Spurs were eliminated in the first round by Golden State. Ginobili says he has no specific plans on doing anything for a while, other than a family vacation to his native Argentina in December. Good for him.

“I think when you go through a process like this, you just find out that, if you want to get back to the player that you were, it takes a lot of effort. I think you find the fight within yourself because there’s so many days where I wake up and it’s like, ‘man, here we go again.’ Another day I’m driving in, it’s freezing cold weather here in Boston, below zero, going into the facility, and the team’s in L.A., or they’re in Miami or whatever, and they’re playing, and I’m picking up marbles and putting them into a bucket.”

Gordon Hayward, to local reporters, during a pre-Media Day update last week. Hayward said he has been playing five on five for the last couple of weeks and expects to be “100 percent” when training camp opens at the end of the month after missing all but six minutes of last year following that gruesome broken left ankle suffered in the season opener against Cleveland.

“This isn’t the national news, it’s just sports. I’ve always tried to make it fun.”

— Clippers play-by-play man Ralph Lawler, who announced last week that this coming season, his 40th with the Clips, would be his last. The 80-year-old Lawler, who will go straight to Heaven after calling more than 3,100 Clippers games since 1978 seemingly without complaint, has missed exactly three games in all that time. The author of the immutable, unconquerable “Lawler’s Law” will be missed.

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Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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