CHICAGO — All season, the Clippers’ opponents have been forcing DeAndre Jordan to the free-throw line. He’s averaging a career-high 4.8 attempts per game and shooting 40.9 percent from the stripe. It’s a good way to stop the Clippers’ offense and force their worst free-throw shooter to shoot. Naturally, Doc Rivers is not a fan of it.
“It’s a tough one for me,” Rivers said after the Clippers’ 96-86 Sunday afternoon win over the Bulls. “I’m old school. It’s bad for the game, the fans don’t like it. But it’s part of the game. You have intentional walks in baseball. Maybe you call it like you do in the final two minutes of the game, all game. But I’m not sure I would like that, either.”
At some point, the NBA is going to have to look at changing the rules on intentional fouls, which have been around for years and deployed against the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard and Andre Drummond, notoriously bad foul shooters. One possible solution would be something similar to a football team’s ability to decline a penalty, with the team drawing the foul in the final two minutes of a game being allowed to opt to simply take the ball out of bounds rather than shooting free throws.
Another option would be giving one shot and the ball on intentional fouls. As long as there are bad foul shooters, the “Hack-a-________” is going to be a viable strategy, and to some degree, it’s on the players for not being able to hit their free throws. But Rivers is absolutely right that aesthetically, games featuring that many free throws are off-putting to fans. At some point, they may be able to find a middle ground.