NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday he is “on the fence” about intentional fouling away from the ball and expects the league to be “very engaged” about the tactic over the coming months. A day after the San Antonio Spurs sent the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan to the foul line 17 times in a playoff victory, Silver said he once favored a rule change but now isn’t pushing for one. “I’ve gone back and forth,” Silver said during a meeting with a group of Associated Press Sports Editors. “I’ve sat in meetings with some of the greatest players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird who said that players should learn to make their free throws and it’s part of the game. At the same time, it doesn’t make for great television, so I’m on the fence right now.”
The “away from the ball foul” rule, which is designed to thwart the “hack-a-whoever” strategy. Right now players such as the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Rockets’ Dwight Howard (among others) may just get fouled and sent to the line because they struggle to knock down the two free throws. Under the new rule the coach of the fouled team can send any player on the court to the line for one of those free throws. That essentially makes it highly likely one of the shots gets made, which makes employing the “hack” strategy far less attractive.
Other rule changes coming to the D-League this year: The “advance” rule — once in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, a team can advance the ball for a half-court throw-in (after a made basket or the ball going out-of-bounds off the opponent) without having to call a time out. Teams can also substitute in this window. Right now coaches save a couple of time outs to use in the final minutes of a game so they can advance the ball and get the players they want on the court, often the coaches draw up a play in there. Now once per game they don’t have to call a timeout (and slow the game down) to do it.
The D-League, on top of being a minor league for the NBA (one which will by the end of Wednesday already have two call ups this season) but it is a laboratory of NBA experimentation. Whenever the league wants to see how a new rule might work in practice, they try it out in the D-League. That means this year D-League coaches will get a challenge flag (well, the right to challenge a call). That’s one of a few interesting rule changes for this season the D-League announced Wednesday.
As I reported last year, Adam Silver and other top NBA officials are at least curious about the 40-minute length of FIBA games. Shorter games would mean fewer advertising windows in a very literal sense, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a long-term revenue reduction or unanimous opposition from network executives. Scarcity can increase per-minute value, especially if ratings go up. There is some belief within the NBA that brisker games could indeed prove more popular among younger fans. Shorter games might also prove to be more unpredictable, since the favorite would have about 15 fewer possessions with which to assert its superiority. Unpredictable games generally rate well, and the NBA is (rather easily) the most predictable of the four major U.S. sports leagues on a game-to-game basis.
The NBA has struck a groundbreaking partnership with Brazil’s top domestic basketball league in which the two will share best practices, marketing strategies, and player development techniques, per sources familiar with the situation. The goal of the NBA’s partnership with Liga Nacional de Basquete is to increase the sport’s profile in Brazil, deepen cooperation between the NBA and top FIBA leagues, and expand the NBA’s international brand. The agreement could be announced by early next month, and the NBA will likely obtain an equity stake in the LNB as part of the deal, per sources. The deal will likely have the NBA sending both cash and people into Brazil for at least two years. The LNB was formed in late 2008 as a way of placing the top 16 Brazilian teams under the same competitive umbrella.
NBA stars LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki reacted to the league’s decision to schedule a 44-minute game saying it’s the regular season, not the games, that should be shortened. Is that a widespread opinion among players? We asked 28 NBAers to find out. Result: They are split on the debate with 42.9 percent saying regular season should stay at its usual 82 games and 57.1 suggesting that’s too much.
The idea to shorten the game was conceived in an off-season coaches’ meeting in Chicago. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle initially made the suggestion, according to Nets coach Lionel Hollins, the NBA jumped at the idea, and the Nets and Celtics were willing to be the test subjects. The league has no plans to try it again this season, although the D-League could be used to conduct further experiments. But even with a small sample size, the NBA hopes to get a better idea of all the potential externalities. “We’re taking a look at a lot of different things regarding our game and if we can find ways that can make it more appealing, or make it better. Then we hope that we’re able to ascertain what those things are,” said NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn, the former general manager of the New Jersey Nets.
Jones elaborated on how the reserves would be impacted. “If there’s 44 minutes in a game and teams decide to play their starters the same exact way, you limit four minutes a game from a reserve,” he explained “If you extrapolate that over a course of a season, you’re talking 328 minutes. That’s a lot when you’re talking about value. I think anytime you start talking about shortening games, extending games, there has to be a thorough conversation between the league and the players. Limiting minutes has a bigger impact on reserve players.”
Cleveland’s James Jones, who happens to serve as the secretary-treasurer of the National Basketball Players Association, says he doesn’t support the reduction of minutes being that it will have a negative effect on the reserve players. “The structure of the games, the amounts of minutes that are played are working condition issues for us because it limits how much time our guys actually have to work,” Jones told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “It’s a major concern for us because there is an attempt, or at least an examination to see whether or not you limit the minutes of the games. And that has a direct impact on player’s opportunities to work and to provide for themselves.”
“No. It’s not the minutes, it’s the games,” James said. “The minutes doesn’t mean anything. We can play 50-minute games if we had to. It’s just the games. We all as players think it’s too many games. In our season, 82 games is a lot. But it’s not the minutes. Taking away minutes from the game is not going to shorten the game at all. “Once you go out and play on the floor, it don’t matter if you play 22 minutes — like I may be playing tonight — or you’re playing 40 minutes,” James added. “Once you play, it takes a toll on your body. So it’s not lessening the minutes, I think it’s the games.”
The length of the season? Nowitzki and James would be all for shortening it significantly, although they realize that business realities make that extremely unlikely. “I think you don’t need 82 games to determine the best eight in each conference,” Nowitzki said Wednesday. “That could be done a lot quicker, but I always understand that it’s about money, and every missed game means missed money for both parties, for the league, for the owners, for the players. I understand all that, and that’s why I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon.”
The NBA will experiment with a 44-minute game Sunday when the Nets play host to the Celtics “to examine the flow” of a shorter contest. “It’s interesting,” Thibodeau said. “I’m curious myself how it plays out. In some ways, the technology (we have) has been great but it also has prolonged the game. “(Commissioner) Adam Silver is very open-minded. There’s part of me that likes (the idea) a lot. And there’s also a part of me that thinks about the tradition of the game and the records and the history. That’s where there’s conflict. But the intent is good.”
“We have looked at everything that we do and are taking a fresh look at all the different things we do,” NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said. “One of the things that keeps coming up is our schedule and the length of our games. … Our coaches talked about it, and a lot of them seemed to be in favor of at least taking a look at it. We talked with our competition committee, and they were in favor of taking a look at it.” The NBA will look how a 44-minute game impacts length of the game, player-substitution patterns and flow of the game to determine if there’s a better experience. “Let’s get some empirical evidence regarding this and take a fresh look at it,” Thorn said.
The Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics will play a 44-minute game — four minutes shorter than a regulation NBA game — Sunday at the Barclays Center. Playing four 11-minute quarters is a one-time preseason experiment and only exploratory. However, at the recent NBA coaches’ meeting in Chicago, the length of games was a topic, and it was suggested the NBA take a look at shortening games.
Around last season’s All-Star break, preliminary chatter began among the league’s basketball operations folks and rule geeks about the prospect of reducing all trips to the free-throw line to a single foul shot. D-League president Dan Reed and Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey were the closest thing to co-sponsors of a bill. Nobody was proposing anything to be fast-tracked, but an imperative to figure out ways to shorten pro basketball games gave the idea some life as something to consider implementing in the D-League.
The concept was this: A player fouled in the act of shooting or in a penalty situation would attempt only a single free throw. If that player was shooting a 2-point shot or in a penalty situation at the time of the foul, the free throw attempt would be worth two points. If that player was fouled in the act of launching a 3-point shot, he’d go to the line for a single shot worth three points.
The NBA is expanding the area that must be clear behind the basket and cutting the number of photographers along the baseline in an effort to improve player safety. The new regulations, calling for an extra foot of open space on both sides of the basket stanchion, were sent to teams Tuesday by league president of operations Rod Thorn and executive vice president of team marketing and business operations Amy Brooks in a memo that was obtained by The Associated Press.
NBA issues statement on the idea of adding a 4-point line: From league spokesman Tim Frank: “No one at the NBA,nor the competition committee, has had any serious conversations about increasing the size of the floor or adding a 4-point line. Rod Thorn and Kiki VanDeWeghe were entertaining a line of questioning about out of the box ideas and ESPN.com chose to make a story that doesn’t exist.”
During a sit-down TrueHoop TV interview with our own Henry Abbott, Thorn was asked about the chances that a 4-pointer — as outlandish as it may seem — could be brought to the NBA at some point. In a Per Diem column last month, I advocated for the introduction of a 4-point line 28 feet away from the basket. Turns out, Thorn didn’t think the advent of a 4-pointer would be outlandish at all. Rather than reflexively squash the radical idea, as you might expect from a 72-year-old NBA lifer who has worn just about every hat in the league, Thorn seemed genuinely intrigued at the notion and revealed that the 4-pointer has “come up” in league discussions. “Oh man,” Thorn told Abbott, “Some of the players we have can shoot the ball 30 feet as easily as they can shoot 23, 24 feet.” One of those players? Vince Carter. Thorn recalled a moment when he ran the New Jersey Nets from 2000 to 2010 as team president and general manager. As players tend to do at practice, Carter would showcase his shot-making abilities from far, far away.
Did coach Mike D’Antoni know what was going to happen when Sacre picked up his sixth foul? “Yeah …,” D’Antoni said with his voice trailing off and his eyes letting reporters know he wasn’t being truthful. “Not really. But it’s a nice rule.” “I never knew when you fouled out, you could go back in,” 11-year veteran Chris Kaman said. “I never knew that was a rule. So, I had my shoes untied and I was like lying down on the bench because we had like a really long bench. There was like 30 feet of extra space.”
The outcome of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 119-108 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday will not matter in the long run — both teams were a lousy 16-32 coming into the game — but it will become a night to remember another way. It was the moment many people in the basketball world first became aware of Rule No. 3, Section I, Part A of the NBA’s rulebook. “Each team shall consist of five players. No team shall be reduced to less than five players. If a player in the game receives his sixth personal foul and all substitutes have already been disqualified, said player shall remain in the game and shall be charged with a personal and team foul. A technical foul also shall be assessed against his team. All subsequent personal fouls, including offensive fouls, shall be treated similarly. All players who have six or more personal fouls and remain in the game shall be treated similarly.”
New rule for this season: Players can’t run to a place beyond the baseline, out of bounds, and just stand there, as more than a few teams had been doing in recent seasons. Now, the player has to return to the court immediately or his team will lose the ball. The league said upwards of 11 teams had been having players stand out of bounds, possibly to create more space in a 4-on-4 game, with Denver supposedly coming up with the strategy first.
Steve Bulpett: Sources: Competition Committee votes unanimously to return NBA Finals to 2-2-1-1-1 format. Owners’ approval to come.
The NBA issued seven flopping violations in the first month of the 2012-13 season and seven in the second month. There were just three flopping violations in the third month of the season, and there have been zero flopping violations in February. “We feel that the new flopping rule is working well,” NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson told USA TODAY Sports.
Jackson: Yes. Basketball is a simple game. Your goal is penetration, get the ball close to the basket, and there are three ways to do that. Pass, dribble and offensive rebound. The easiest one is — or should be — the pass. But the new rules allow you to throw more people at post-up players. NBA basketball is a big man’s game, and in the past they protected that aspect of the game. Well, those rules went out the window and what they didn’t do was consider this: If they’re going to continue to allow zone defenses to work and shut down the paint, then they have to put six more seconds on the shot clock. A 30-second clock. But they’re so attached to the idea of the 24-second clock that it doesn’t happen.
Calling Thursday’s sideline incident at Madison Square Garden that led to forward Stephen Jackson’s right ankle sprain “a Mayoral mishap,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called on the NBA to police activity along the league’s sidelines and baselines. “It’s maddening,” Popovich said of the incident in which Jackson lost his balance after running into a waitress during the first quarter of the Spurs-Knicks game. The waitress appeared to be taking an order from New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Popovich expressed confidence the incident would spur the league to better control the sidelines during games. “After what happened, I have no doubt the league has contacted teams to make sure everybody shores up their discipline in that area,” he said. “It’s obvious people shouldn’t be ordering beers or Cokes or hot dogs when the game is going on.”
A league source told Grantland.com that NBA officials warned “about 10” players for flopping, but the league refused to release the names. “Flops have no place in our game — they either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call,” NBA vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson said in a statement. “Accordingly, both the Board of Governors and the competition committee felt strongly that any player who the league determines, following video review, to have committed a flop should — after a warning — be given an automatic penalty.”