LAS VEGAS — “Taking” mistakes? The NBA Board of Governors opted instead on Tuesday to leave them.
Say goodbye this coming season to those anti-climactic, time-consuming and not-at-all sparkly pieces. Or at least expect to see a lot less with this rule change that increases the penalty when a defender intentionally commits a “transition foul” to thwart their opponent’s breakout opportunity.
Previously, a side entry situation or, at worst (in the bonus), a pair of free throws was seen as a small price to pay, compared to chasing the other team and the ball into the area for a high percentage scoring chance.
Now, the team whose break was called will get a free throw – which can be shot by any of their players on the field – and still retain possession.
Board meetings ended essentially in the middle of the NBA 2K23 Summer League, and commissioner Adam Silver shared some numbers touting its success as a combination of basketball development, entertainment attraction, and unofficial league meetings.
“It’s pretty remarkable what that turned into,” Silver said. “I’m told we’ll have an economic impact on Las Vegas of about $125 million, fill 70,000 hotel rooms during our stay, and sell about 135,000 tickets.”
The summer leagues in 2022 — including the short, oldest in San Francisco and Salt Lake City — have already instituted the transition foul penalty that will go into effect at the NBA level this fall. Anecdotal evidence suggests the problem is mitigated.
Why? Coaches generally hate giving out free points without any benefit, so the NBA expects this to act as an added deterrent. Owners and members of the NBA competition committee, meanwhile, didn’t like the effect on the floor – losing the fast breaks that are the source of so many highlights.
Byron Spruell, president of NBA league operations, told reporters after Silver’s press conference that about 1,700 foul cases have been deployed. The committee debated whether to apply a more severe penalty – two free throws and the ball – but opted for this half-measure, expecting a noticeable reduction in games.
A few clarifications came with the rule change:
• In the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and the last two minutes of any overtime period, the increased penalty will not apply. The defensive team will still be able to foul, either to stop the clock on a return attempt or to prevent the offensive team from generating a 3-point attempt.
• The offending penalty will not apply if the offensive player is fouled in the act of shooting, in which case they will be treated as in the past.
In other BOG activities:
• Governors voted to make the Play-In tournament permanent, which began on a trial basis after the 2020-21 season and extended for the recently concluded season. In the Play-In, teams that finish seventh through 10th in each conference compete for seventh and eighth playoff spots. The tournament takes place between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs proper.
• Former players of the defunct American Basketball Association will be eligible for what the NBA calls “recognition payments” under a program jointly funded by the league and the current players’ union. An estimated 115 surviving players who logged at least three seasons in the ABA but did not qualify for the NBA pension plan will receive $3,828 per year of service.
The ABA, which began as a rival league and the source of bad blood for some NBA owners due to competition for players and rising salaries, lasted nine seasons from 1967-68 to 1975- 76.
• Silver said the league surpassed $10 billion in revenue for the season just ended. Not only is this a record for the NBA, “it’s pretty remarkable where we got to just two and a half years ago when…the future of this industry was in question, in part because of the pandemic,” he said. . Every 2022 playoff game, the commissioner added, has been sold out.
• While WNBA star Brittney Griner remains in Russian custody after violating an illegal drug law, Silver said he believes the NBA properly cleared the US State Department and administration of the White House Biden to take the initiative to negotiate his release.
• More than once during Silver’s media sessions over the past two years, the topic of contracted NBA players asking for trades has come up. The names of the players change – Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, James Harden – but the principle remains the same. He came back on the heels of Brooklyn star Kevin Durant, who recently went public with his desire to be traded from the Nets.
Durant has yet to receive a dime from the four-year, $194 million contract extension he signed before last season. He would have designated a short list of teams in contention to which he prefers to be distributed. It’s a test for teams not on its roster and a bad look for the league.
“No one suggested to me that Kevin Durant said he was unwilling to fulfill the terms of his contract,” Silver said. “So to say that you would like to play in another city is one thing. To say that I won’t attend training camp or certainly games would potentially be a breach of his contract.
As user-friendly as the NBA has been for decades, “player empowerment” is a phrase that tests the boundaries of the business model. Silver and his predecessor David Stern have been staunch supporters of free agency — LeBron James, for example, changed teams three times, but only at the end of a contract. It’s something different.
“Look, this has got to be a two-way street,” the commissioner said, signaling as in the past that he expects the issue to come up in talks for the next collective agreement. “Teams provide enormous security and guarantees to players and in return they are expected to uphold their end of the bargain.
“I’m realistic that there are always conversations going on behind closed doors. … But we don’t like to see players asking for trades, and we don’t like things going the way they are.
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Steve Aschburner has been writing about the NBA since 1980. You can email him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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