In addition to announcing additional 'Hack-a-Shaq' regulations, NBA commissioner says 'clock is ticking' on 2017 ASG
POSTED: Jul 13, 2016 7:00 AM ET
Board of Governors News Conference
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addresses the media following the NBA's Board of Governors meeting.
LAS VEGAS — In an attempt to satisfy constituencies on both sides of the NBA's so-called "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy, the league's Board of Governors approved rules changes Tuesday that, rather than abolishing or embracing the tactic, will further divvy up the game by when it is permitted.
Previously, the penalty for such away-from-the-ball fouls increased during the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime. Now that stiffer penalty -- one free throw, plus possession of the ball -- will be imposed during the last two minutes of each quarter.
The strategy of intentionally sending poor foul shooters to the line as a way of thwarting an opponents' offense has been criticized for bogging down the pace of play by many inside and outside the league, including NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Last month at the Finals, Silver said data indicated the tactic added 15 minutes to the length of games. "Not only is that something that is bad for our network partners," the commissioner said, "but for all of the fan research we have, shows that the fans hate it."
The data now suggests a 45 percent drop in incidents, Silver said, based on how coaches typically deploy it.
"This isn't a full step. But I think it is a serious half-step. And far from cosmetic," Silver said.
Silver met with reporters Tuesday evening after the league's annual Las Vegas BOG meeting. In addition to announcing some other rule tweaks approved by the owners group, he addressed the unprecedented spending in free agency over the past two weeks, sparked by the huge influx of revenue from the league's new broadcast contracts.
Silver also provided an update on the possibility that the 2017 All-Star Game might be moved from Charlotte next February over a controversial North Carolina law.
Clock ticking on Charlotte ASG
The NBA's concerns over House Bill 2, known variously as "HB2" or the "bathroom law," have yet to be addressed satisfactorily by North Carolina legislators. It became an issue for the league last spring when LGBT protests framed it as discriminatory, among its provisions, in preventing people from using public restrooms and locker rooms based on self-defined gender identity.
Adopted statewide to counter a specific bathroom-neutral policy enacted in Charlotte, HB2 requires people to use public facilities corresponding to their biological gender. Its supporters have cited privacy and safety reasons for favoring the law.
Silver repeatedly has cited "diversity and inclusion" as core principles of the NBA, values make staging the 2017 All-Star Game and all the festivities surrounding it "problematic." Attempts to work behind the scenes with politicians and business leaders in North Carolina have not been fruitful and a recent short session of the state legislature only produced only minor revisions in language, insufficient to satisfy the NBA.
Rick Buchanan, NBA general counsel, updated the board on the situation and the Hornets spoke as well, Silver said. No vote was asked for or taken. But in keeping with Silver's statement last month that he didn't see the league "getting past the summer without knowing definitely where we stand," each passing day without compromise add urgency to the matter.
The logistics of moving such a massive event and finding a suitable replacement city are considerable, given just seven months to complete the task and estimates that All-Star Weekend can pack an economic impact of $100 million. The league likely would be expected to address its operations of NBA and WNBA franchises in a market deemed unsuitable for its All-Star Game.
And then there is this: sites for the 2017 Game as well as future All-Star events would need to be vetted for similar laws or practices, given the precedent established here.
With slightly more than two months left to summer, Silver said: "I'd only say we're not prepared to make a decision today, but we recognize that the calendar is not our friend here and that February is quickly approaching. ... If we are going to make alternative plans, we are going to need to do that relatively soon."
Votes 'no' on 'super teams'
Silver called the owners' discussion of this summer's free agent market "robust," which figures, given the jump in the league's salary cap from $70 million last season to $94.1 million this season. As hundreds of millions of dollars got spent in a flurry of activity, players who never have been All-Stars inked deals in excess of $100 million and an MVP-caliber star signed to play with a team that won 73 games last season.
No alarm bells were sounded, or at least, Silver's demeanor didn't suggest any. But he is keeping a watchful eye on how the free-market privileges of his league's players might indirectly hurt its competitive balance.
"Certainly it's important to me that markets in this league, those that are perceived as small, as those that are larger, all feel like they have an equal chance," Silver said. "My sense is that some of the player movement we just saw is not necessarily a function of market size.
"In the case of Kevin Durant, I absolutely respect his decision, once he becomes a free agent, to make a choice that's available to him. In this case he operated 100 percent within the way of the system, and same with Golden State."
Silver did take issue with a theory floated this summer by some media outlets that, since so much of the league's revenue comes from broadcasting, there might be benefits to having a few star-laden "super teams" vs. spreading the NBA's top talent across as many of the 30 franchises as possible.
"I don't think it's good for the league, just to be really clear," he said. "I will say, whoever is the 'prohibitive favorite,' try telling that to the 430 other players who aren't on those two teams.
"We'll see what happens in Golden State. You had a great, great chemistry among a group of players and you're adding another superstar to the mix, so it'll be interesting to see what happens. But just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that's ideal from a league standpoint."
In other business...
The other rule changes approved Tuesday were:
* On inbounds plays, a defensive foul that occurs before the ball is released by the inbounder will be treated like an away-from-the-ball foul in the last two minutes of a period. That is, one free throw and possession of the ball.
* Flagrant foul rules will be in effect to discourage dangerous or excessively hard deliberate fouls. Specifically, a player who leaps on an opponent's back to showcase his deliberate foul to the referees now automatically will receive a flagrant foul. Previously, that has been subject to the refs' judgment.
Also, Silver spoke of how pleased the NBA is with Las Vegas as its "summer home." He cited a new attendance mark in excess of 100,000 fans attending Summer League games. But in answering a question about possible expansion in the wake of the NHL's move into Las Vegas, Silver said the league simply is not in expansion mode.
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