China legend Yao Ming set to enter NBA Hall of Fame next year after rule change
Star could join Shaq and Allan Iverson in receiving the honour
Expected changes to the Basketball Hall of Fame election process could see Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson and China's Yao Ming among those inducted in 2016, according to an NBA website report.
Citing unnamed sources, the report said the Basketball Hall of Fame changes will include reducing by one year the wait for eligibility for induction to the sporting shrine.
The wait time would be shortened from five seasons in retirement to four, officials wanting to avoid what has become a sixth year of waiting by the time the vote process is completed.
The new plan would see eligibility after five calendar years rather than five NBA seasons and that would open the door early for several candidates that could be first ballot selections, notably Yao, O'Neal, Iverson as well as Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.
Yao and Shaq would not have been on the ballot for another year under prior Hall rules.
Some carryover candidates might find themselves squeezed with new stars moving ahead in the Hall picture, notably Tim Hardaway, Kevin Johnson and Chris Webber.
Yao had rejected being nominated as a contributor to the sport, which would have come without the five-year retirement wait.
Finalists for the Class of 2016 are expected to be announced in February with selections in April and enshrinement in September at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.