NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he’s “one the fence” about the Hack-a-Shaq strategy.
Someone else involved in setting the league’s rules isn’t quite so torn.
A rule change that would punish teams for intentionally fouling so severely as to eradicate the scourge from NBA games already is on the unofficial agenda for the competition committee’s July meeting in Las Vegas, a league source told CBSSports.com.
The person, who is familiar with the discussions, estimated the chances of a rule change in some form being recommended to the Board of Governors, passed and implemented next season at about 85 percent.
Rather than outlawing intentional fouling, the more likely scenario is for a consequence to be written into the rules. For example, an intentional foul away from the ball would result in a technical foul shot and possession. Thus, the end of Hack-a-Whoever as we’ve known it.
It’s unclear whether Berger’s example solution – a technical foul shot and possession after an intentional foul away from the ball – was completely his own idea or influenced by his source. If that’s indicative of where the league is headed, I see numerous problems:
1. What’s an intentional foul? Refereeing is difficult enough without judging intent on every away-from-the-ball foul.
2. How lax will defenses become away from the ball? The penalty is so punitive, players might play softer defense for fear of fouling and it being judged intentional.
3. Will offensive players flop more? Players already have no problem flopping for lesser rewards. If they can get a free throw and the ball, they might feign being intentionally fouled more often.
Another commonly proposed solution is giving the fouled team the option of free throws or just keeping the ball and taking it out of bounds. That would seemingly have fewer unintended consequences, but there’d surely be some.
The competition committee should examine this, but I’m not nearly as confident a rule gets passed.