Jeff Van Gundy (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
With the Free Agency Season coming to an end (post on that coming soon), I have another topic I want to cover: NBA rules. Whenever I watch an NBA game with Jeff Van Gundy giving play by play analysis, I always love to hear his takes on the rules. Usually, I roll my eyes and laugh at how much he contradicts himself, but every once in a while I will agree with him. The NBA rules are definitely not perfect, and the refs who enforce them are only human. This is why every summer the NBA looks at the rules and tries improve the game. After being an impartial viewer during this post season, I have put together the rules I would like the NBA to either create or edit.
Expand Instant Replay- Challenges
I think the NBA has done a very good job at trying to use instant replay to make the right calls. However, they can take it a step further. Right now, the referees can only check to see who the ball went off of, if the play happened in the last 2 minutes of the game. I understand that those are crucial minutes, but when a game is close for 48 minutes, then every possession matters. This is why I think they should give coaches a limited number of “challenges.” In tennis, players can challenge if they think the ball was in or out, and I would like to see the NBA implement the same rule. Give both coaches a few challenges each to use at their leisure. If a coach challenges the play and the coach is correct, then they get to keep that challenge and the play is ruled in their favor, however, if the coach is wrong, then they lose the challenge and are limited in how many more they can use. This rule will keep teams from challenging every single play, but will force the referees to take a second look at a play if there is a serious question.
Additionally, I want to see the NBA expand instant replay for goal tending. It is rarely a subjective call, and they can make the rule that they can only overrule the decision if the replay is clear. That call is miscalled all the time and effects the game.
Going back to the “last 2 minutes of the game,” rule the NBA is very fond of, I want the NBA to eliminate all hacking throughout the game, not just the last 2 minutes. Right now teams are using this rule as a strategy to foul either throughout the entire game, or for the 4th quarter to climb back into the game. It is bad basketball. Let’s simply make the rule that if you foul away from the ball, and you are in the penalty, then the team gets 2 free throws and the ball regardless of what quarter or time it is.
These first 2 rules I want edited because I believe in consistency. If something is not allowed in the last 2 minutes of the game, then it shouldn’t be allowed in the first 46.
Fouling Jump Shooters
Another rule that players have taken full advantage of, is the rule that rewards jump shooters if the defender jumps to try and block the ball. We are seeing jump shooters now jump into the defenders to draw the foul. I think we need to edit that rule. If a defender jumps onto a shooter because he pump fakes, then the shooter deserves to be rewarded and go to the foul line. However, if the shooter contorts or jumps into the defender, then I believe there should either be a no-call or an offensive foul call.
There is way too much grey area with this rule. I think the NBA needs to simply admit a few aspects of this rule. First, they need to acknowledge that they are looking at intent. Intent is never mentioned in the rule book, but clearly that is the biggest issue at hand. If a player inadvertently elbows someone going for a rebound, then it is a simple foul. However, if Ron Artest winds up his elbow and gives James Harden a concussion then it is clearly intention (sorry Metta I am still not buying it was an accident). Second, I agree with Van Gundy that there might need to be different rules for the playoffs and regular season. I know I am contradicting myself after I stated that I wanted consistency, but I am simply calling out the facts. In the playoffs, players get away with much more physical content then they would in the regular season, so if this is the case, then the flagrant fouls also need to follow this trend. Third, we need to look at who is committing the flagrant foul. Again, if Ron Artest fouls someone hard, then you are going to want to air on the side of caution and punish him since he is a repeat offender. The same goes for bigs like Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins. Fourth, we need to look at impact. A hit from a big guy like Dwight is going to hurt a lot more than an elbow from J.R. Smith. This may seem unfair to the bigs, but I believe in the punishment fitting the crime. Remember that saying, “No harm, no foul?” Well I believe that perfectly describes flagrant fouls. I am not saying that someone needs to get injured for a flagrant foul to be called, but I thought it was fitting that Ron Artest was suspended for 7 games after that hit to James Harder. Harden was out for a quite a few games, so if he can’t play, then neither should the man that hurt him (if it was intentional).
Free Agency Commitments
In case you haven’t heard yet, De’Andre Jordan decided at the 11th hour to go back to the Clippers. He made this decision 5 days after committing to the Dallas Mavericks. I think this is appalling. I cannot believe that Jordan is allowed to simply walk away from a verbal contract without any repercussions. The Dallas Mavericks negotiated in good faith, and proceeded with their free agency season under the impression that Jordan would be wearing their uniform come fall.
The NBA apparently allows players to re-neg on verbal agreements as long as they have not signed a contract. Players are not allowed to sign a contract before July 9th, so before that deadline players can change their mind. Jordan and the Clippers took advantage of this fact.
After Jordan called Doc Rivers and revealed he was having second thoughts, the Clippers contingent (including owner Steve Balmer, Doc Rivers, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul) flew to his Texas home and refused to leave his side until he signed a Clippers contract at midnight. This actually lead to a Twitter emoji war. Blake Griffin even went as far as barricading the door to keep Mark Cuban from entering to try to talk to Jordan.
Blake Barricades Door
This is all completely unprofessional and I believe there should be consequences. I believe the league should either treat these agreements as verbal contracts and not allow players to change their mind, or they should implement punishments like the NCAA does for players who switch schools.