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NBA NOTES

Naismith Hall shifts 2020 enshrinement ceremonies to May 2021

Enshrinement ceremonies for the 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class, headlined by the late Kobe Bryant, have been moved to May 2021 because of the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
Enshrinement ceremonies for the 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class, headlined by the late Kobe Bryant, have been moved to May 2021 because of the ongoing impact of COVID-19.Steven Senne/Associated Press

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame rescheduled the 2020 Enshrinement Ceremony festivities to May 13-15, 2021 due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 virus. The organization had been hopeful to find a viable date in October for a star-studded class headlined by the late Kobe Bryant, along with Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett, as well as former Bentley women’s coach Barbara Stevens if the pandemic showed signs of subsiding.

The impact of the delay has significant financial ramifications and has resulted in the elimination of several full-time positions and compensation cuts in the 25-40 percent range for the most senior management as the Hall faces the prospect of declining revenues while the pandemic persists.

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“These are people who have been a big part of the Hall’s success in recent years; it hurts deeply,” said John Doleva, President and CEO of the Hall of Fame. “The decision to reschedule Enshrinement into May of next year, along with diminished museum guest visitation and a very uncertain future regarding our multiple collegiate and high school basketball events this fall, has forced us to make these very difficult decisions. Our goal now is to conserve resources so that we may stabilize in 2021 and return to our growth trajectory in 2022 and beyond.”

“For this single event, and only because of the pandemic, we will relocate the entire event one time to Mohegan Sun which has been a long-time marketing partner of the Hall. Mohegan Sun has shown they can effectively operate a ‘near-bubble’ for our event which provides a more secure environment for our guests,” Doleva explained. “In making this announcement today, our goal is to provide this date and location change with ample notice for our network broadcast partners, nationally and internationally traveling guests and the many basketball constituents the Hall serves.”

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Divac departs as Kings GM

Vlade Divac stepped down as general manager of the Sacramento Kings and will be replaced on an interim basis by Joe Dumars. The Kings announced the move Friday, a day after they ended their 14th straight season without a playoff berth. That’s the longest active drought in the NBA and one shy of the record. Initially hired by the Kings in March 2013, Divac traded DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans in 2017 and made the decision to draft Marvin Bagley III second overall in 2018, one spot ahead of Luka Doncic . . . Months after the world was reminded of the best run in Chicago Bulls history, the franchise closed a chapter on one of its worst. Chicago fired second-year coach Jim Boylen as the new front office begins its remake of a team that missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years — a tough stretch for a franchise whose dominance in the 1990s was chronicled in the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.” The Bulls finished 22-43 this season and were one of the eight teams that didn’t qualify for the NBA’s restart at Walt Disney World, where the playoffs begin next week. The move was hardly a surprise. Only Tim Floyd (.205) had a lower winning percentage in franchise history than than Boylen (.317), who was a two-time captain at the University of Maine before a long run as an NBA assistant.

Heat’s Jones carted off court

Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. was carted off the court and fitted for a neck brace after colliding with Indiana Pacers center Goga Bitadze late in the third quarter. Jones was trying to get around a screen when he ran into the 6-foot-11 Bitadze and fell to the floor. Jones lay on his stomach for several minutes with his right hand over the back of his head. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after Miami’s 109-92 loss that the issue was with Jones’ shoulder and neck. Jones was evaluated by doctors on-site and was getting more tests Friday night, including an MRI and CT scan. Spoelstra urged caution before reacting one way or another until all tests have been completed. But the initial signs, including that Jones had movement and was not reporting numbness in his extremities, were considered positive. The Heat face the Pacers in an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series beginning Tuesday . . . Stanley Johnson scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half, and the Toronto Raptors closed out their regular season with their fourth straight victory, a 117-109 win over the slipping Denver Nuggets. Johnson hit three 3-pointers and a floating bank shot during a span of less than four minutes in the fourth quarter, helping the Raptors push their lead to 103-92 with six minutes to go . . . BOTTOM LINE: The Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies will square off in a play-in game Saturday afternoon to decide the 8th seed in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers keep the 8th seed with a victory, while the Grizzlies need to win two straight games to take the last playoff spot . . . Mo Bamba will not play for the Orlando Magic in this season’s playoffs, after the team announced that he has left the bubble for testing related to his previous bout with coronavirus. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 draft, the 7-foot Bamba averaged 5.4 points and 4.9 rebounds this season . . .

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