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NBA Daily: New Rule Changes On The Horizon

Spencer Davies looks at the NBA’s reported rule changes and how they will affect the upcoming season.

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The NBA could be altering some of its rules before the season starts.

Thursday afternoon, a multitude of reports surfaced indicating that the NBA Board of Governors will vote on three possible changes that would take effect as soon as this season.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA emailed a memo to general managers and coaches to summarize said suggestions made by the league’s competition committee. In order to pass, the board will require a two-thirds majority to vote in favor.

Let’s take a look at the trio of proposals the board will get to decide upon.

Expanding The Definition Of “Hostile Act” To Prompt Replay Review

This rule isn’t a change at all, but rather just an addition. Any hostile player interaction with a referee, coach or fan will be treated the same as it would with another player.

As specified by the current official league rulebook, referees can trigger an instant replay review when a player altercation occurs. This can be a flat-out fight or a hostile physical altercation that isn’t a normal basketball play and isn’t resolved by intervention from officials or players.

A player committing a hostile act against another player can also trigger replay. To clarify, the NBA considers intentional harm or recklessness attempt to harm with a punch, elbow, kick or blow to the head as a hostile act.

There isn’t much to break down with this. It is a tweak to essentially make the players responsible for hostile offenses against everybody involved in the game.

Simplifying Clear-Path Fouls

Per ESPN, here are three new instances where a clear-path foul can be called by officials:

• 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

Basically, this is a way to put fewer responsibilities on referees to make their own decision when one team creates a fastbreak chance—whether it results from a forced turnover or a defensive rebound—and the opponent attempts to intentionally foul to halt momentum before the offense gets into transition.

There will be many less “judgment calls” in concluding whether or not defenders are in between the ballhandler and the basket. In addition, its purpose is to eliminate cheap fouls when the defender is able to position himself in between the player he is guarding and the basket.

Our own Ben Dowsett explained there isn’t an intent to completely change this rule, but rather to make the rule easier to understand by “altering the language” and toning down its vagueness.

Shortening Shot Clock From 24 Seconds To 14 Seconds Following An Offensive Rebound

Everyone’s talking about this idea because it’s the most significant potential change of the three. With the game of basketball evolving, the NBA is trending towards a faster pace and more offense.

Taking the shot clock down 14 seconds will force quicker decisions on second-chance opportunities and take away the option to fully reset an offense. It encourages less half-court execution and demands action to score quicker.

The proposed change is crucial in relation to games going down the stretch.

If Team A is leading a game by six points with two minutes left and corrals an offensive rebound, they will have only just over half the time to hold the ball and run the clock down. Team B won’t lose out as much because it failed to crash the boards.

Based on ESPN’s report, the league feels that this rule will increase shot attempts, specifically those in crunch time.

It is not all that unfamiliar in the NBA landscape, as the G-League has been implementing the post-offensive rebound 14-second shot clock over the past two seasons. It was used in Las Vegas during NBA Summer League and has been mandated in the WNBA since the 2016 season. FIBA has adopted the rule since 2014 as well.

The shot clock rule will take some getting used to, but other than that there won’t be an overly important adjustment to make.

The expectation is for these three changes to be passed by the Board of Governors. They will take a vote on a two-day long September 20-21 meeting. As mentioned before, in order to ensure the rules pass, it will require a two-thirds majority.

If the process goes as planned, the rulebook update would be applied for the upcoming 2018-19 season.

Spencer Davies is a Deputy Editor and a Senior NBA Writer based in Cleveland in his third year with Basketball Insiders. Covering the league and the Cavaliers for the past five seasons, his bylines have appeared on Bleacher Report, FOX Sports and HoopsHype.

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