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Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett are officially Hall of Famers

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It may be the greatest Hall of Fame class in history.

There may not have been a lot of suspense — the shock would have been if these three did not get in on the first ballot —  but Saturday it became official:

Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett are Hall of Famers.

They were elected on the first ballot in a deep class that also includes Tamika Catchings, Rudy Tomjanovic, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton, and longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.

It is Kobe’s election, months after his tragic death in a helicopter accident, that draws the most emotion.

“Obviously, we wish he was here with us to celebrate, but it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career,” Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant said on the broadcast announcing Kobe’s enshrinement. “Every accomplishment he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here.”

“No amount of words can fully describe what Kobe Bryant meant to the Los Angeles Lakers,” said Lakers co-owner and governor Jeanie Buss. “Kobe was not only a proven winner and a champion, he gave everything he had to the game of basketball. His fierce competitiveness, work ethic and drive were unmatched. Those qualities helped Kobe lead us to five titles – and have now brought him to the Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined with the greatest to have ever played the game. No one deserves it more.”

Kobe’s resume was nearly unparalleled: Five-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, 18-time NBA All-Star, 11-time All-NBA First Team, the 2008 NBA MVP, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member, he is fourth on the NBA All-Time scoring list, plus Bryant earned two Olympic gold medals.

One of the few guys who can put up a resume anywhere close to that is Tim Duncan, the face of a two-decade San Antonio Spurs dynasty. He is a five-time NBA champion and three-time Finals MVP, two-time NBA MVP, he was a 15-time NBA All-Star, an eight-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member,  Rookie of the Year, and Duncan is the only player in NBA history with 1,000 or more wins with one team. At Wake Forest, he was a three-time First Team All-American and won the AP College Player of the Year award.

There also was never any doubt about the resume of Garnett: An NBA champion, NBA MVP, 15-time  All-Star, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, Defensive Player of the Year, and he has an Olympic gold medal.

“It’s just the culmination, just the culmination,” Garnett said on the broadcast of the announcement. “You put countless hours into this, you dedicate yourself to the craft, you take no days off, you play through injuries, you play through demise, you play through obstacles, give no excuses for anything, you learn, you build, this is the culmination.”

“This is an honor so well deserved. We congratulate Kevin on being selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said. “From the day we drafted him in 1995, we knew there was something special about him that Minnesota had never experienced before. I’ve watched Kevin grow on and off the court and will forever be grateful for his contributions to the Timberwolves organization. He was beloved by our fans in a way that only few players experience and will always have a place at Target Center.”

Those three alone make this an insanely good and distinguished class, but it goes beyond them into other deserving people. Also elected to the Hall of Fame are:

• Tamika Catchings. A WNBA MVP and champion, she is a 10-time WNBA All-Star and won four gold medals with Team USA.

• Rudy Tomjanovic. A legend of the Houston Rockets, he is the only person in NBA history to score 10,000 points as a player and win 500 career games with two championships as a coach. He coached two Rockets teams to titles and the 2000 Olympic team in Sydney to gold.

“Congratulations to Rudy T on his well-deserved and long overdue selection to the Hall of Fame,” said Rockets owner Tilman J. Fertitta. “As a longtime Rockets fan, I admired Rudy’s tenacity as a player and loved watching his attention to detail in coaching the back-to-back championship teams in the 90’s. Heart of a champion! This is an exciting day not only for Rudy and his family, but for Rockets fans everywhere.”

• Kim Mulkey. She coached the Baylor Bears to three national titles, and she won one herself as a player.

• Barbara Stevens. The coach of Division II powerhouse Bentley University, she is the fifth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career wins.

• Eddie Sutton. He coached four schools to NCAA Tournament and won more than 800 games as a college coach.

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Rudy Tomjanovic reportedly elected to Hall of Fame

Basketball Hall of Fame nominees Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant
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This is going to be as impressive and deserving — and, for voters, obvious — a Hall of Fame class as we have seen in recent memory.

Kobe Bryant? Lock. Tim Duncan? Lock. Kevin Garnett? Lock.

When the Hall of Fame class of 2020 is formally announced on Saturday (at noon Eastern), it’s no surprise that those three guys got in, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. What is a surprise is that Rudy Tomjanovic finally got in after falling short for multiple years, according to Mark Berman of Fox News 26 in Houston (who has been well connected on Rockets’ stories).

Tomjanovich has been on the ballot two of the past three years but never got over the threshold of votes (from an anonymous group of voters). He is the only person in NBA history to score 10,000 points as a player (he was a five-time All-Star) and win 500 career games with two championships as a coach. His resume is impressive and legends of the game such as Gregg Popovich have stumped for Tomjanovic to make it.

Tamika Catchings also is up for nomination and likely will get the nod. Legendary coaches Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, and Eddie Sutton also are nominated.

Report: No chance of traditional NBA playoffs this season

NBA playoffs
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The NBA playoffs have a familiar format – four rounds, best-of-seven series, games in front of fans at home arenas.

But the coronavirus, which has forced the NBA into an indefinite stoppage and disrupted life around the world, makes that untenable. Don’t expect the league to wait until that’s workable, either.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

At this point, several team and league officials told SI.com, any chance of a traditional postseason is out.

A shortened playoffs in Las Vegas is gaining momentum. It’d allow the NBA, hemorrhaging money, to draw revenue sooner. A reduced postseason would also minimize disruption to future seasons.

But even that comes with major complications, especially containing coronavirus from undermining the entire operation. It could be a long time until its safe to hold games, even in a centralized location without fans.

It could be so long… a traditional playoffs could be back on the table. Though I find that unlikely, I’m still not convince people have a proper understanding of how lengthy this hiatus could be.

Everyone wants to finish the season. The playoffs are the NBA’s most lucrative time, and it feels right to crown a champion.

So, it’s good the focus is on alternative formats. It’d be naïve to expect business as usual when the NBA resumes.

Report: DeMar DeRozan unhappy with Spurs

Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan
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Facing the Kawhi Leonard trade saga, the Spurs had a clear objective: Remain competitive. That’s why they traded Leonard to the Raptors for veteran star DeMar DeRozan rather than accepting a pick-heavy offer. That wasn’t optimal for the franchise’s long-term health, but it at least paid short-term dividends. San Antonio made the playoffs last year, qualifying for a record 22nd straight season.

Now, the bottom has fallen out.

The Spurs are just 27-36 and will almost certainly miss the playoffs. DeRozan has a $27,739,975 player option that he’ll reportedly decline if the Spurs don’t sign him to a contract extension.

Jabari Young of CNBC on ESPN San Antonio:

Listen, I don’t have to sugarcoat anything. DeMar DeRozan is not happy in San Antonio, OK? The offense is not running as smoothly as one should think with a guy like him in the lineup, and there are problems are there, right? And so you have to decide if you’re going to take that money of if you’re going to come back to a situation that’s just not suitable. I mean, it didn’t work. They got the deal done. It’s over. I mean, the experiment is not working.

This report came before the NBA’s coronavirus shutdown, which could significantly decrease next season’s salary cap. That makes DeRozan (and everyone else with a player option) more likely to opt in. Base on the prior report, DeRozan is willing to stay in San Antonio for the right price. It’s increasingly likely that option-year salary is the right price.

DeRozan is a good player whose scoring – and, at times, passing – can be central in building decent offense. But he has a tandem of deficiencies that make it difficult to fit him onto a good team:

1. He doesn’t shoot 3-pointers to space the floor.

2. He doesn’t defend adequately.

That means his team must surround him offensively with other outside shooters. That’s doable.

His team must also surround defensively with other sound defenders. Again, that’s doable.

But it’s difficult to do both. Players who both shoot 3s well enough to attract attention AND defend well are obviously scarce.

Though DeRozan definitely has fans around the league, it’s another thing for him to expect an offer next offseason that justifies declining his player option. He and the Spurs could be stuck in this imperfect arrangement another year.

Will NBA players go to Tokyo Olympics next year? Depends on Olympic, NBA schedules

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — USA Basketball is hoping that the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will be held around the same time next year as they would have been this year.

Otherwise, an already-complicated situation could get even tougher for coaches and players.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said Tuesday that he has “hit the pause button” on planning for the next Olympics. Colangelo noted that there’s nothing now to do besides waiting to see exactly when the games in Tokyo will be held in 2021 — and if the new schedule will conflict with the NBA schedule.

“It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? We either have NBA players or we don’t,” Colangelo told The Associated Press. “And if we don’t, we’ll look at the other options.”

For now, Colangelo is committed to remain in his role through 2021. So is the coaching staff; U.S. coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs is the head coach, with assistants Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors, Lloyd Pierce of the Atlanta Hawks and Jay Wright of Villanova.

But again, that’s all schedule permitting.

This summer’s Olympics were to begin July 24, which typically is part of the NBA offseason. When the International Olympic Committee announced the postponement of this summer’s games on Tuesday, a decision made because of the global coronavirus pandemic, it said the delay would last “no more than one year.”

That wording seems to suggest the possibility of an earlier-than-usual Olympics. And if the Tokyo Games are held in April, May or June that could mean the U.S. plans change considerably.

“We’re hopeful that this is going to take place in the same timeframe next summer as it was scheduled for this summer,” Colangelo said. “There are a lot of things that have to be done totally out of our control. We’re a follower in this situation. We’re dealing with the NBA, FIBA, the USOC, the International Olympic Committee, etc., etc. Here’s what we have to wait for now: What are the dates? Once they set the dates, then we will go into action.”

USA Basketball was planning to pick the 12-man roster for the Tokyo Olympics in June. There were 44 players under consideration, and assuming the schedule means NBA players can take part in 2021 most if not all of those names will likely be on the list next year.

“These are unusual times,” Colangelo said. “And when they ring the bell, we’ll get ourselves ready.”