The NBA wants its referees to have a clearer idea of what constitutes a clear path foul, and give them more leeway to go to review on a “hostile act.” Plus, when a team gets an offensive rebound, they will now have a little less time to get a shot back up.
Every summer the NBA’s competition committee meets and recommends changes to the league’s rules, and there are three primary ones this year, according to multiple reports. This is from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
All of these changes were unanimously recommended by the competition committee.
Let’s look at each one of the likely changes.
• Reset the shot clock to 14 seconds after an offensive rebound rather than 24 seconds. This has been experimented with in the G-League, the WNBA, and Summer League this year with some success. The idea is to speed up the game and keep the pace going. On a putback attempt or a quick kick-out for a three, this is moot. The change is if a team grabs an offensive rebound and wants to reset, they now have less time to do so. It is an adjustment for players and coaches, but it keeps the flow of the game going.
It will be most noticable in some end-of-game situations — rather than a team grabbing offensive rebounds then pounding the ball for 20 seconds to kill clock, they will have to get up a shot, which will lead to the other team getting an opportunity.
• “Simplification” of the clear-path rule. This is often a matter of debate when the foul is called (a foul on a player going in on a fast break with nobody in front of him), anything that clears up this rule is a good thing. From Wojnarowski, here are the three parts defining now what will be a clear-path foul:
• “A personal foul is committed on any offensive player during his team’s transition scoring opportunity.”
• “When the foul occurs, the ball is ahead of the tip of the circle in the backcourt, no defensive player is ahead of the offensive player with the scoring opportunity and that offensive player is in control of the ball or a pass to him has been released.”
• “The defensive foul deprives the offensive team of a transition scoring opportunity.”
What is not covered in this rule tweak (according to sources), but should be looked at by the league in the coming years is the “Euro-foul” where a defensive player intentionally fouls the player with the ball near midcourt to stop a transition opportunity (it’s not clear path because players are in front of the person with the ball). It’s becoming a more common way to stop transition opportunities, and the league wants those plays and pace. Some way to ban this play needs to be found.
• Expanding the rule of a “hostile act” so that replay can be triggered more easily. Currently, to be a hostile act according to the NBA rulebook it has to be an altercation between players that is “not part of a normal basketball play” or where a player “intentionally or recklessly harms or attempts to harm another player.” Broadening the scope of this will give referees more chances to review off-ball or other altercations, and these are the kinds of serious situations the league should review.
Expect all of these to get approved at the owners’ meeting next month.