LAS VEGAS — The NBA Board of Governors, meeting Tuesday in Las Vegas, did its best imitation of Congress — with deep divides on how to an issue, they reached a compromise that does little.
The issue is the “hack-a-Shaq” — where a poor free throw shooting player (almost always a center) is intentionally fouled off the ball to force free throws. It drags games out, is just dull and painful to watch, the NBA’s television partners hate it, fans hate it, and while legal it is certainly not a play in the spirit of the game. The divide is between people who want to do away with hack-a-player fouls (by offering shots and the ball out of bounds, or some other compromises) led by commissioner Adam Silver, and those who say “those guys just need to learn to knock down free throws.”
Through this past season, the intentional fouls were banned only in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter.
The new compromise announced Tuesday is it is the fouls are banned in the final two minutes of every quarter.
“It was not everything some people were looking to do,” Silver said at a press conference later in the day.
He added that last season this would have reduced the number of hacks by 45 percent. Problem is, now coaches who want to do it will just be more aggressive doing it earlier.
My question is simply this: if you’re going to ban it for eight minutes a game, why not 48? What is the logic for rules changing during the game?
This will not end the majority of hacks (and hacks were up considerably last season). It takes six minutes of the game off the board, and it will remove the egregious intentional fouls made to create a two-for-one possession opportunity at the end of quarters (a Popovich favorite). However, under this new rule we’re still going to get a parade of DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, and the rest going to the free throw line excessively.
Either fix it or leave it alone, but this kind of compromise solution seems destined for failure.
There are two other rule changes:
• It will presumptively be considered a flagrant foul if a player jumps on an opponent’s back to commit a foul. Previously, it was up to the discretion of the official.
• During an inbounds play, a defensive foul before the ball is inbounded will result in one free throw and the ball out of bounds (before that had been the case in only in the final two minutes).