NBA approves expanded instant replay and other rules changes for the upcoming season

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The NBA’s Board of Governors approved some rule changes which will go into effect for the upcoming season, the league announced on Thursday via official release.

Many of the modifications have to do with how and when instant replay may be used by the officials, the most significant change coming in relation to flagrant fouls.

Under the previous rules, a foul had to be whistled as a flagrant in real time before the officials were allowed to check the replay to see just how bad it was; now, replay is allowed whenever officials are not “reasonably certain” whether a foul that was called meets the criteria of a flagrant as outlined in the league’s rules.

The other significant change is in regard to a reset of the shot clock in held ball situations. Previously, the clock would be reset to five seconds when a held ball was caused by the defense with less than five seconds remaining; now, that’s no longer the case.

The full release, which includes all of the associated rule changes, is reprinted below for your convenience.

All changes go into effect for games beginning Friday, Oct. 17.

Expansion of Instant Replay Rules

  • Officials may utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain a team had an improper number of players on the court while the ball was in play.

Modification of Instant Replay Rules

  • Instant replay triggers that are currently in effect only during the last two minutes of regulation and the entire overtime period(s) instead shall be in effect only during the last two minutes of regulation and the last two minutes of overtime period(s).
  • Officials may now conduct an instant replay review whenever they are not reasonably certain as to which team should be awarded possession after a ball becomes out of bounds or whether an out of bounds in fact occurred during the last two minutes of regulation and the last two minutes of overtime period(s).  Previously, officials could only use replay if they weren’t reasonably certain as to which of two players on opposing teams caused the ball to become out of bounds.
  • Officials are now permitted to utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain whether a foul that was called meets the criteria of a flagrant foul.  Previously, the foul had to be called a flagrant on the floor in order to utilize instant replay.
  • Officials are now permitted to utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain whether a foul that was called meets the criteria of a clear-path-to-the-basket foul.  Previously, the foul had to be called a clear-path foul on the floor in order to utilize instant replay.
  • Officials may now utilize instant replay any time they are not certain when any player (offensive or defensive) without the ball was fouled relative to the timing of a successful shot.  Prior to this change, officials could only review the timing when an offensive player without the ball was fouled.

Rules Changes

·         If a team has too many players on the court while the ball is in play, (i) the offending team would both be assessed a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul and lose possession if it had possession at the time the violation was discovered, and (ii) the non-offending team would continue to have the option of either accepting or nullifying the game action that occurred during the violation.  Previously, if the offending team had possession, it would keep possession of the ball despite the violation.

·         Teams may freely substitute players whenever any timeout is called.  Prior to this change, there were limited circumstances in which a team couldn’t substitute for certain players at timeouts.

·         The shot clock will no longer be reset to five seconds when a held ball is caused by the defense with fewer than five seconds remaining on the clock.

 Each of these rules was recommended by the NBA’s Competition Committee at its offseason meetings.