The NBA Development League is giving coaches the chance to challenge calls but effectively taking away their ability to use the so-called "Hack-a-Shaq" system of intentional fouling.
The NBA’s minor league announced a series of new rules Wednesday that could speed up the game when it opens its 14th season next week.
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Coaches will also have an opportunity to advance the ball and make substitutions without using a timeout, and the number of fouls before teams shoot free throws will increase.
Chris Alpert, the league’s vice president of basketball operations and player personnel, thinks the changes "will have a positive impact on speeding up the game" and improving the flow in the final minutes.
"Certainly toward the end of the game you want to keep that fast-paced action going," Alpert said. "The end of NBA games and D-League games are extremely exciting, and sometimes the games can get bogged down with the number of timeouts that are called. And, hopefully, with some of these speeding up the game ideas that have come out, our hope is to limit the number of interruptions that occur at the end of the game and let these highly athletic and tremendous basketball players display their skills in an up-and-down setting."
The NBA experimented with a 44-minute game during the preseason, but the D-League is going further, following changes in recent years that included a reduction in number of timeouts that could be taken and a shorter overtime period.
The new rules include:
* Coach’s challenge: A coach can call timeout and signal to the referees to that he is challenging a call, which will be reviewed by instant replay and the officials will determine if it should be upheld or changed. Teams get one challenge in regulation, and another if it was successful, and an additional one in overtime. Personal and shooting fouls can be challenged, traveling and palming can’t, nor can continuations or act-of-shooting determinations.
* Advance: A team with the ball can stop play and immediately point to the sideline to signal that it is advancing the ball. Substitutions can be made but players can’t return to the benches. Each team gets one advance in the final 2 minutes of regulation and another in the final 2 minutes of OT.
* Away from the ball fouls: Some NBA coaches have used the strategy to stall opposing offenses by fouling notoriously poor free-throw shooters, such as Shaquille O’Neal. Fans have complained that it makes the game tedious, but Alpert thinks it will be limited by extending the rule used in the final 2 minutes to the entire game. If a player is fouled intentionally away from the ball, any player on his team will shoot a free throw and his team will retain possession.
"We feel that implementing that for the entire game will reduce the number of times that it will happen over the course of the entire game," Alpert said.
* Free-throw penalty: Teams will shoot free throws after the fifth foul of each period, instead of the fourth.
The NBA has used the D-League to test changes that may eventually become part of its game.
"We’ll kick around a lot of different ideas and when the NBA wants us to take a look at something, see how it’s going to impact the flow of the game, how it could affect statistics, at the end of the day the goal is to be committed to growing the game and develop the game through some of these innovative ideas," Alpert said.