Fouling poor free throw shooters away from the ball grinds the game to a halt, and isn’t at all aesthetically pleasing.
But it’s legal under the rules, so it has continued to be a topic of debate, even at this early stage of the postseason.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich used it extensively in a Game 2 victory over the Clippers, sending DeAndre Jordan — a 39.7 percent free throw shooter during the regular season — to the line 12 times in the fourth quarter alone.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens employed it against Tristan Thompson — a 64 percent free throw shooter — during the first quarter of Game 3 versus the Cavaliers.
You can question whether or not the so-called “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy is effective, but as long as there are dreadfully poor free throw shooters on the floor, there will be a segment of head coaches who choose to play the percentages. There’s been plenty of talk about whether the league should put rules into place to prevent this from happening, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver remains undecided on how to handle the issue.
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. …
“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.”
Silver said he finds it to be a “fascinating” strategy in some cases.
“But in other games I watch it and I think, ‘Oh my god, I feel people changing the channels,”‘ he said. “So we’re also an entertainment property that’s competing against a lot of other options that people have for their discretionary time.”
The easiest way to put an end to this, of course, would be to give teams one free throw and possession of the ball anytime an intentional foul away from the ball took place. But that’s assuming that the league does want to end it, which right now seems to be up for some debate — at least in the eyes of the commissioner.