NBA moves up trade deadline, reduces timeouts


Remember when DeMarcus Cousins (maybe) found out he was traded while doing an interview after the All-Star game?

You won’t see something like that again.

The NBA moved up its trade deadline and enacted a few measures – including reducing the number of timeouts – accelerate gameplay.

NBA release:

Effective with the 2017-18 season, the maximum number of timeouts per game will decrease from 18 to 14.  In addition, during the last three minutes of a game, teams will be limited to two team timeouts each instead of the previous rule that allowed three per team in the last two minutes.

“These changes will help us fulfill our goal of improving game flow and pace of play,” said Byron Spruell, NBA President, League Operations.  “Fewer stoppages and less time without action, especially at the end of a game, will further enhance the viewing experience for our fans.”

The rule modifications for timeouts are below:

  • Each team will have seven timeouts per game, with no restrictions per half.
  • All team timeouts will be 75 seconds.  In the previous format, “full” timeouts were 90 seconds and “20-second” timeouts were 60 seconds.  Both “full” and “20-second” timeouts have been replaced by team timeouts.
  • All four periods will have two mandatory timeouts, which will take place after the first stoppage under the seven- and three-minute marks.
  • The under-nine-minute mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth periods will be eliminated.
  • Each team can enter the fourth period with up to four team timeouts.
  • Each team will be limited to two team timeouts after the later of (i) the three-minute mark of the fourth period or (ii) the resumption of play after the second mandatory timeout of the fourth period.
  • Each team will have two team timeouts per overtime period; previously teams had three.

The NBA also made the following changes regarding game flow:

  • Referees will assess a delay-of-game violation if a free throw shooter ventures beyond the three-point line between attempts.
  • Halftime will last 15 minutes for all games, beginning immediately upon expiration of the second period.  A delay-of-game penalty will be issued if a team is not ready to start play at the expiration of the halftime clock.

In addition, the Board of Governors approved moving the trade deadline from the Thursday after the NBA All-Star Game to the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game.  With the new placement of the trade deadline, teams will be able to settle their rosters before the All-Star break and avoid the disruptions that result from players joining new teams just as practices and games are beginning to resume following the All-Star break.

The NBA’s Competition Committee unanimously recommended the rules changes before the Board of Governors’ vote.

The trade deadline will now come in the middle of regular-season play. The league would rather disrupt that than practices during the All-Star break?

Traded players missing games while they travel to their new cities is silly considering how close the deadline is to the All-Star break, and the NBA just made it more common. The deadline was previously on the day regular-season games resumed after the All-Star break, meaning there were at least no games in the days leading up. Now, there are games on deadline day and the days before and after.

The league also created a dead period in the few days between the All-Star game and the resumption of the regular season. No games, no trade rumors. There could be post-deadline buyout intrigue, but that will generate only minimal interest. The NBA is surrendering days of attention.

The right time for the trade deadline would have been the Tuesday or Wednesday after the All-Star game. All-Stars would have to deal with trade rumors during the mid-winter event, but they’ve always handled that fine. Traded players would have time to join their new teams without missing games, and the NBA would remain prominent without a few-day gap.

At least the timeout changes are a step in the right direction. Grumble at millennials and their attention spans, but the game is more entertaining without as many stoppages. That could pay off in the long run with larger and more engaged audiences. In the short term, fewer timeouts mean fewer opportunities to sell commercials. But the league can compensate by implementing ads more seamlessly, like jersey ads. That’s an exchange I’d make every time as a viewer.

I’m more intrigued by the other two game-flow changes.

Free-throw shooters high-fiving everyone and pacing around between attempts quietly adds up – and I think it’s generally bad for the shooter. I’d rather remain squared up with the basket rather than lose muscle memory. But NBA players obviously handle that differently, so good for the league stepping in. If anything, the NBA didn’t go far enough. Why limit free-throw shooters to the entire area inside the arc rather than just the lane and free-throw circle?

I’m very curious whether the referees enforce a hard limit on halftime length. Halftimes generally creep longer only during special events – number retirements and such. Will teams cut off rambling speeches when former greats are honored? Will refs actually penalize the home teams that don’t?

LaMarcus Aldridge’s 39 points lead Spurs past Wolves, 117-101

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) – LaMarcus Aldridge had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-101 on Saturday night.

San Antonio won its third straight to move into fifth in the Western Conference five days after dropping to 10th and out of playoff position.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped to sixth in the West.

The Spurs had lost three straight and nine of 11 but are now unbeaten halfway through a six-game homestand.

San Antonio shot 84 percent in the second quarter, their best shooting quarter since 2010.

Two nights after battling New Orleans’ Anthony Davis on both ends, Aldridge had to take on another All-Star in Towns. Aldridge responded by leading the Spurs in scoring for the 49th time this season while helping keep Towns in check.

Aldridge scored 18 of 21 points during a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, including 12 straight. He capped the run by coming from the weak side to swat Towns’ floater deep into the seats.

Minnesota started quickly, shooting 78 percent from the floor in the first 5 1/2 minutes while San Antonio floundered at 17 percent. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called timeout, only to watch the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague steal the ball once play resumed.

The Spurs responded behind veteran reserves Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay. San Antonio went on a 16-4 run bridging the first and second quarters to take a 29-26 lead.

Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points for Minnesota and Teague had 16.


Stan Van Gundy goes off on officials: “We got absolutely screwed all night”

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The Pistons were likely to lose to the red-hot Trail Blazers on the road, and that came to be Saturday night 100-87, Portland 12th straight win. The Pistons shot 38.8 percent for the game and had a dreadful offensive rating of 93.8 (points per 100 possessions).

Portland is one the top five defensive teams in the NBA this season, but that’s not what Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy thought was the problem — he laid the blame on the officiating.

That’s going to be a fine.

Van Gundy is frustrated — with this game and with this season. So are Pistons fans, and seemingly so is Detroit owner Tom Gores after his lukewarm vote of confidence in Van Gundy recently. They should be, this team is a disappointment and the Blake Griffin trade was a big swing that has yet to work out. The Pistons are going to miss the playoffs. Around the league, the sense is that Van Gundy will lose his GM job to former super agent Arn Tellem, who was brought in to guide the Pistons into their new building but now whose talents would better serve the basketball side of the operation. The only question is will Van Gundy still be coaching in Detroit next season — just coaching, like Doc Rivers with the Clippers — or of the change will be more sweeping than that.

Hornets’ coach gives savage, frank assessment of Willy Hernangomez

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When Willy Hernangomez was not getting much run with the Knicks this season, especially as injuries opened up space in the front line rotation, there were questions as to why. Then the #freeWillyHernangomez movement popped up.

Eventually, Hernangomez was traded to the Hornets where… he barely plays. He’s gotten more than 10 minutes just once since coming to Charlotte.

What gives? Hornet’s coach Steve Clifford didn’t hold back when answering that question to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“If you were in one place and didn’t play much, if you want to play more in the next place, I’d say work harder and kill myself,” Clifford said at the Hornets shootaround at the Players Association’s midtown headquarters. “The reality is he wasn’t playing here for a reason. He’s got to change things…

“He’s not up to speed on what we’re doing to play a lot,” Clifford said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle for him. He’s smart, but he’s not this high-flier, phenomenal, natural athlete able to make up ground. He’s got to be on top of things, especially on the defensive end. If he’s not detailed defensively, he’s not that [athletic] guy…

“To be an every-night player, and I’ve told him this, he’s got to improve his shooting,” Clifford said. “He is right now, in my opinion, a back-to-the-basket player who can pass. But the reality is his passing doesn’t come into play until they have to get close to him and know he’s not going to knock down a shot. And he’s not a knockdown shooter.”

Well then.

Just to be clear he’s got to put in a lot more effort, become smarter on the defensive end, and improve his shooting. That’s a healthy off-season checklist.

Hernangomez has another year on his contract at a very reasonable $1.5 million before the Hornets have to make any kind of decision on him, which means whoever is the new GM in Charlotte he will choose to keep Hernangomez around. For now. He flashed potential his rookie season with the Knicks, when asked to play strictly to his strengths, but Clifford and the Hornets — and basically every other team in the NBA — is going to ask more of him.

Clifford was clear, as no doubt he has been clear to Hernangomez (Clifford is as straight a shooter as the league has). The ball is in Hernangomez’s court.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis denies drug charges while eating Popeyes on a charter plane

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Best. Denial. Ever.

Last month, former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis was arrested last month at a hotel in a suburb of Baltimore by Jimmy McNulty and Lt. Daniels with 126 grams of marijuana and more than $96,000 in cash, according to a police report. He has been charged with possession and intent to distribute.

Davis has declared his innocence in the best denial video ever — eating Popeyes chicken and flashing cash and a championship ring.

I have no idea whether Davis is guilty or not, I was not at a Hampton’s Inn outside Baltimore last month. The court system will sort that out, that is what it’s there for.

But I know a brilliant video when I see one. This is it.