Vogel to Bench All Five Pacers Starters Tonight in Milwaukee

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IND_VOGEL_FRANKThe Indiana Pacers just keep getting more and more interesting. And tonight, we’ll find out if their second unit is good enough to defeat the worst team in the NBA.

Why the second unit? Because all five members of the starting five — Roy Hibbert, David West, Paul George, Lance Stephenson and George Hill — are being rested tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks.

It is one of the most bizarre moves by a coach in an important stretch run, ever. The Pacers sit in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Miami Heat. Vogel said all five starters will return to practice Thursday and will play Friday against Miami as the Pacers try to win the season series and the accompanying tiebreaker.

Tweet of the Night: Damian Lillard Among Many To Remember The Ultimate Warrior

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James Hellwig, known as the Ultimate Warrior, seen at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

James Hellwig, known as the Ultimate Warrior, seen at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

This past weekend was a momentous one for any who would call themselves professional wrestling fans.

WrestleMania XXX, a week-long extravaganza often considered the Super Bowl of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), occurred Sunday evening, opposite the premiere of Game of Thrones fourth season and a slew of NBA basketball games.

Among the highlights of the weekend, Saturday night featured the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The star of the night, 1980s superstar, the Ultimate Warrior.

Warrior, whose real name was James Brian Hellwig at birth, was introduced by Linda McMahon, wife of WWE CEO Vince McMahon. He gave a rousing, uninterrupted 40-minute induction speech Saturday night after having been absent from the company for over 18 years.

Three nights later, the news that no one would want to hear came across the internet screen:  ”Ultimate Warrior passes away.

Warrior was only 54 years old. He is survived by his wife Dana and their two daughters.

Among NBA circles, the news hit Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard as well as Phoenix Suns Digital VP and huge WWE fan Jeramie McPeek.

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Tweet of the Day: Shaq Finds Fault With Fox & Friends First

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Sunday night the NCAA Men’s Tournament came to a close as the University of Connecticut Huskies were crowned National Champions after defeating the preseason’s top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats 60-54.

UCONN point guard Shabazz Napier was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

The game was the story of the night, being reported on practically every news show. With so much coverage, there was bound to be some gaffs—and there was, as Shaquille O’Neal found out while watching Heather Childers on Fox & Friends First on Fox News.

Alonzo Mourning, Mitch Richmond, David Stern Among 2014 Naismith Hall of Fame Inductees

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Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2014 Class

Monday afternoon the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame welcomed its class of 2014 inductees.

For the NBA, it was a great unveiling, as seven-time NBA All-Star and 2006 NBA champion with the Miami Heat Alonzo Mourning and six-time All-Star and Sacramento Kings great Mitch Richmond were announced. They join recently retired NBA commissioner David Stern—who was previously announced.

SH Blog: Gay happy with Kings; Keeping Faried will cost Nuggets

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Image.AdamSilverWe’ve got a very important piece up here on Sheridan Hoops today. With the Northwestern football union case picking up steam, the NCAA’s amateurism policy is coming under fire, and that could have effects on the NBA’s age limit, which Adam Silver wants to raise, and Danny Schayes says would be a disaster for the players.

Personally, I like the MLB’s system, where players can get drafted out of high school, and if they don’t sign, can go to college for three years and get drafted again. In the NBA, that would mean the best players (LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, etc.) can make the jump and get paid right away, and the ones who need development can do that in college. It would also mean an end to the one-and-done policy that many feel is killing college basketball.

Of course, the MLB draft is 50 rounds and the NBA’s is just two. And MLB teams have six or seven levels of minor league teams that players can advance through, whereas the NBA doesn’t even really have one. For the NBA to adopt an MLB-like system, every team would need their own D-League affiliate, over which they would have a sizable amount of autonomy. That’s not there now, so it looks like we’re stuck with the current system, or raising the age limit to 20. And as Schayes writes, the NBPA doesn’t have an executive director, and until they do, Silver and the NCAA can put whatever they want out into the court of public opinion.

Here’s the latest news from around the NBA:

WHAT COULD KENNETH FARIED MAKE WITH THE NUGGETS?

Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post:

Kenneth FariedFaried isn’t a LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love or Blake Griffin, all big names with even bigger contracts, but his player efficiency rating ranks right up there with them. Taking New Orleans’ Anthony Davis into account as well, it could be argued that Faried is about the seventh- or eighth-best player at his position in the NBA.

And he’s getting better.

So, right this minute, that’s under the $14 million to $22 million the top power forwards make but more than the $9.5 million of a player such as Atlanta’s Paul Millsap. Add in his standing on the Nuggets’ roster — he’s the team’s second-best player — and his exploding box-office appeal, and the price tag could fall right in that $10 million to $11 million per-year range. Modestly. He will be in search for more, no doubt.

It might be difficult for the Nuggets to justify to themselves shelling out a contract to Faried worth more than Ty Lawson’s $12 million average, however.

Taking the current roster and projecting it out over the next few years, in the summer of 2015 the Nuggets could have wiggle room. There is currently roughly $59 million in salaries, including qualifying offers. Cap holds present another challenge. But the contracts of Darrell Arthur, Nate Robinson and Anthony Randolph expire after next season and Wilson Chandler’s $7.1 million salary for 2015-16 isn’t fully guaranteed.

Christopher Dempsey takes readers’ questions about the Denver Nuggets and NBA.

If that’s the route they want to go, the Nuggets can figure out the finances and broach the subject of extension talks with Faried’s agent after the July moratorium this summer.

WISCONSIN STARS RETURNING TO SCHOOL

Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com:

WisconsinWisconsin’s duo of Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky remained steadfast after Saturday night’s loss to Kentucky that they will both be back next season for the Badgers.

The 6-foot-8 Dekker finished with 15 points in the loss and is considered a potential first-round pick. But he reiterated he will be back in Madison for his junior campaign.

“I’m coming back,” said Dekker, who entered the game averaging 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds.

The 7-foot Kaminsky struggled for much of the game after averaging a team-high 14.1 points and 6.4 boards.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Kaminsky said.

Wisconsin is expected to return four starters from a team that finished 30-8.

RUDY GAY COULD BE IN SACRAMENTO LONG-TERM

Bill Ingram of Basketball Insiders:

Rudy GaySometimes what seems like the most unlikely of pairings winds up working better than anyone could have imagined. The Sacramento Kings made an aggressive move midseason when they acquired Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors, and while the trade has not resulted in a ton of wins in the short-term, there are indications that Gay might be a big part of the Kings’ rebuilding plan going forward.

“I have to [keep a positive attitude], man,” Gay told Basketball Insiders. “No matter where I go, I have to be me and be the best me I can be. Honestly, I feel like I do that better here. The wins don’t really pan out like I like for them to, but I definitely feel comfortable here.”

“I’m not even sure of the exact record, but I know we’ve shown the ability to be a great competitor and beat a lot of the best teams in the NBA when those guys are all playing,” Kings head coach Mike Malone said of Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas in a recent interview with Basketball Insiders. “When they play at a high level, three 20-point scorers, we become very hard to guard because you have a low-post force, a wing with the versatility and athleticism that Rudy has and a point guard in Isaiah who can score, get to the foul line and make plays for his teammates. Not that many teams have that three-headed attack. It’s great to have and hopefully we’ll be able to keep those together because with that core you add some pieces to that and you allow Ray [McCallum] and Ben [McLemore] to continue to mature and get better and I think we have a solid foundation. Those guys, offensively, are terrific and they’re getting better defensively.”

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Dan Malone is currently in graduation limbo after finishing his journalism degree at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent last summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.