Over the course of time, things change. Sometimes that change occurs organically. Other times it happens because it is necessary, or it happens because people ask for change. That change can have a positive effect or a negative effect. Either way, that change will have an effect. That is what will take place in the National Basketball Association starting this upcoming NBA season as the Board of Governors unanimously approved several recommendations by the league’s competition committed at their meeting in Las Vegas, NV on Wednesday.
All non-mandatory timeouts will be 75 seconds long. That means there will be no more full timeouts, which lasted 100 seconds, or so-called :20 second timeouts, which a team had one to use per half, that lasted for 60 seconds in real time. The maximum number of timeouts in a regulation game will go from 18 to 14.
Halftime will commence immediately upon the conclusion of the second quarter, with the length of intermission being 15 minutes. Intermission previously began a little later some game nights or days or in some arenas.
Going forward, any team that is not ready to start play at the expiration of the halftime period will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty.
That same rule will also apply to free throw shooters who venture beyond the three-point arc in between free throw attempts.
Each team will be limited to two timeouts after the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter, or resuming play after the second mandatory timeout in the fourth quarter, whichever comes first. Before, teams could call three timeouts in the final two minutes of a regulation game.
One piece of downtime that was not addressed by the competition committee was the how some teams huddling in unofficial timeouts during replay reviews. A few broadcasters and coaches have brought up the suggestion that the 10 players on the court head to “neutral corners,” rather than convene at their respective benches for bonus coaching and strategizing.
“Ultimately the view was, if there was a break in the action, it seemed artificial and silly to suggest that coaches can’t speak to their players,” Silver said about that particular issue. “Our teams are so smart, they’ll be sending in hand signals and other things. It was just one area we decided we didn’t need to intrude.”
These changes are in direct effect of reducing the number of timeouts, the standardized length of intermission and cut down on the wanderings of free-throw shooters. The main goal though is to move the game along more rapidly, especially in the late stages of the fourth period.
“We’re pretty happy with the length of our game,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters said on Wednesday afternoon as the rule changes were announced.
“We were more focused here on the pace and the flow of the game. What we heard from our fans and heard from many of our teams was that the end of games in particular were too choppy. I think since I was a kid, people have been talking about the last two minutes of our game. We think these new changes will have a significant impact, especially at the end of the game.”
This new rule changes should bring to a conclude the pattern in the final moments of a game; a timeout being called; a foul taking place; free throws being shot; another timeout being called; basket scored; timeout; lather, rinse, and repeat.
The biggest news to come out of this week’s Board of Governor’s meetings along with the rule changes is that the approval of the February trade deadline has been moved from the Thursday after the All-Star break to the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game.
The purpose of this was to aide teams avoid the disruption of the addition of a new player, or players just as teams resume practices and games after the break.
It is also to avoid situations like at this past season’s unofficial mid-season classic in New Orleans, LA where then Sacramento Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins found out during his media obligations after the game that he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.
“There was a sense that it was more unsettling to have a player traded right after the All-Star break, that the All-Star break would have been an opportunity for the player to move himself, his family, get his family readjusted and get readjusted to the new team when they have that four or five-day period to do that.”
Silver also said on Wednesday that with the 2017-18 NBA campaign beginning a week earlier, supposedly Oct. 17, an earlier trade deadline allows players to appear in more games with their new teams. For an All-Star player who gets traded before the All-Star Weekend, Silver said that such cases would be addressed when the take place.
In fielding other questions about the state of the NBA, Silver addressed a recent comment made by Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban about how teams that are eliminated from playoff contention in recent years, so-called “tanking,” meaning losing games on purpose to improve its position in the draft lottery.
“Yes, it’s not what you want to hear a commissioner,” Silver said. “I will say that Mark has a long track record of being proactive, and it was something that we spoke to him directly about. I think he acknowledge it was a poor choice of words. When we looked at what was actually happening on the floor, which is most important to me, there was no indication whatsoever that his players were intentionally losing games.”
Two other issue that was brought up during Silver’s press conference is the concern of so many talented players being in the Western Conference and the playoff format being changed to a straight 1-though-16 seeding, taking conference standings out of the picture, something that the Women’s National Basketball Association began in the summer of 2016.
Silver and the league looked at the situation two years ago and said, “We concluded that given all the focus on sports science, health of our players, impact of travel, it didn’t make sense.”
He added that in the two years since that study, only one team with a Top-16 record, the 2016 Chicago Bulls, failed to secure a postseason berth.
Silver also addressed the continuous growth of the Las Vegas Summer League and its surrounding events from massive media coverage by ESPN and its teams gathering for offseason planning and management.
“We don’t have baseball’s equivalent really of their ‘Winter Meetings,’ but I think this is about as close as you can come to it,” he said.
Silver also took the time to commend Warren LeGarie and Albert Hall, who oversee the Las Vegas Summer League.
He also addressed with a Las Vegas reporter about expansion and relocation of any of the 30 teams by saying, “relocation or expansion is not on the table right now.”
Information, and quotations are courtesy of 7/12/17 NBA.com article, “NBA Changes Timeout Rules to Improve Game Flow,” by Steve Aschburner, and the 7/1317 7 a.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime,” with Rick Kamla and Sekou Smith.