Rule Tweaks, ‘Hornets’ Buzz Busy NBA’s Board Of Governors

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LAS VEGAS – And in a matinee clash in NBA Las Vegas summer action, it was Vespines 1, Felines 0…

Actually, that’s just a fancy-schmancy way of saying that “Hornets” is back in Charlotte and “Bobcats” is the league’s latest amnesty casualty, in a reset-by-nickname approved Thursday at the Board of Governors meeting here. The Board also approved five rules changes – three involving the expanded use of instant replay, a tweak to the clear-path foul and a reminder to offensive players to stay within the boundaries of play.

The transfer of “Hornets,” made available when New Orleans opted for “Pelicans” earlier this year, is intended as a reminder of a different sort. The franchise granted to Charlotte nine years ago, after sputtering on the court and at the gate for nearly its entire existence, will try to reach back to happier times by reclaiming the nickname that got relocated with the original expansion team to the Big Easy in 2002. The Board unanimously approved the switch, which will cost the Bobcats an estimated $3 million or more in changeover expenses and take effect after the 2013-14 season.

What’s in a name? Apparently, “Juliet” and the Bard had it wrong. Charlotte team president Fred Whitfield said the costs and efforts involved in this switch will be worth it to his team and its fans. He said the club wants to “grab those fans that love the NBA and haven’t connected with us.”

“Being a former season ticket holder of the Hornets,” Whitfield said, “I understood the energy that came into that building every night. So as we look forward to the future, we’re thrilled that our Bobcats fans and our Bobcat corporate sponsors that have supported us to this point will be able to connect to the old Hornets fans and have that galvanize our community around our NBA brand, not just in Charlotte, but in the Carolinas.”

This has been a basketball operation and civic relationship in need of a fresh start. Whatever obligation the NBA might have felt in returning to Charlotte two years after unpopular owner George Shinn moved the Hornets to New Orleans wasn’t returned with a honeymoon period. The new owner in town, Bob Johnson, didn’t seem to connect with the public much better than Shinn, the Bobcats nickname was a vanity choice based on his first name and, oh yeah, the basketball decisions and performances were shaky at best.

In 14 seasons, the Hornets had led the NBA in attendance eight times, stringing together 364 sellouts, while going 542-574 (.486). They won 50 games three times and reached the playoffs seven times.

The Bobcats, er, have been less successful all around. They ranked 28th in home attendance in their inaugural NBA season (2004-05) and 24th last season, only once averaging as many as 16,000 fans. They have finished above .500 and made the playoffs just once, posting a 250-472 mark (.346) since their inception.

They have been Michael Jordan‘s problem since he purchased control from Johnson, but have more in common with his Birmingham Barons stint than his Chicago Bulls majesty. Insiders say that even NBA commissioner David Stern, after initially dismissing the “Hornets” diehards, began to sell Jordan and others in team management on the value of some nickname nostalgia.

“I sort of laughed at it initially – you know, it is what it is, get over it,” Stern said. “But no. It stayed there, bubbling below the surface, and there is something to it.”

Chief among the Board’s other business Thursday were the rule changes that will take effect for the coming season. The first three involve expanded replay use:

  • When reviewing a block/charge play to determine whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area, officials will be permitted to reverse or uphold the call based not just on the defender’s location but also whether he was set or not.
  • Replays can be used to determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has begun his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.
  • While reviewing a play, the officials will be permitted to assess penalties for unsportsmanlike and unnecessary acts that they spot during the reply.
  • Also, a clear-path-to-the-basket foul will not be assessed if at any point before the foul is committed the defender is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt.
  • A team on offense will lose possession if one of its players leaves the floor and does not immediately return, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.

As far as the application and effectiveness of flopping rules from last season, Stern said the NBA competition committee felt they were working well and warranted no changes.

Despite the commissioner’s label of “unremarkable” hung on this meeting in the desert, other topics came up either in the owners’ session or in the news conference that followed. Among them:

The CBA is working: Early indications after 18 months functioning under the current collective bargaining agreement suggest that NBA teams are navigating the rules, provisions and penalties in a way the owners had hoped. “Teams who are up against the tax level or even above it find themselves making hard decisions about what players are necessary to retain or not,” Stern said. “All of which strikes us as being pro‑competitive in terms of the league.”

Not only has the CBA led to shorter contracts and player movement for the coming season, it has boosted offseason interest in the league not unlike baseball’s “Hot Stove League” of winter.

“That’s a huge, huge builder of awareness and gets fans excited, teams excited and I think players excited about what their team reconfiguration is, so that’s all good,” Stern said.

Viva Las Vegas: The resort and gambling destination continues to loom large on the league’s radar. The summer league, a project of particular interest to NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, Stern’s successor upon the commissioner’s Feb. 1 retirement date, has been a hit, they said, both for the basketball opportunities and its convention-like aspect. “What we’re moving to, in conjunction with Orlando, is a real sense of what baseball has in their winter meetings and where everyone gathers,” Stern said.

Added drug testing (eventually): Enhancements in the league’s anti-drug policy, particularly a “biological passport” concept and testing for human growth hormones, has been slowed by the National Basketball Players Association search for a new executive director. Stern said he expected that they could be added in time for the 2013-14 season.

Sacramento on track: The progress since Sacramento secured the Kings franchise continues with added season-ticket sales and an increase in sponsorship commitments. Reports on revenue sharing and the league-wide credit facility also were favorable. It all is part of what Stern called “another banner year for the NBA.”

Expansion spitballing: Silver said there has been no dialogue with Seattle and those behind efforts to restore the NBA to that market, and the deputy commissioner only acknowledged the potential for discussions about expansion “down the road,” be it in Seattle, Las Vegas or other possible cities.

But Stern, who enjoys dumping expansion questions on Silver, did note that plans for a new arena in Seattle are continuing, after mentioning similar plans in Las Vegas moments earlier. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Commissioner Silver was looking at strong applications from Las Vegas and Seattle in the coming years,” he said, “and I’m going to enjoy watching it.”

29 Comments

  1. Matthew says:

    Greg Oden worked out for the Heat and Kings….

  2. Florence says:

    I am really happy that the name change has been allowed. I’m a British fan who remembers the 90’s when the league was big over here. Basketball no longer gets air time and Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are not household names. But everyone remembers the Charlotte Hornets! Now all we need is the return of the Sonics please!

  3. InstallerX says:

    Nice rule changes i think. Now they can call a foul, charge or block during a replay not just who touch the ball last. But one downside is that this will slow down the game. Sometimes it takes the referees forever just to make a call who touched the ball last. One question I didn’t see though, is that are the replays still only done during the last 2 minutes? Or the whole duration of the game? Not sure if it was ever mentioned in the article.

    For flopping, they should be reviewed on the next dead ball possession or halftime. And if reviewed and confirmed the player flopped they should call a technical foul and let the other team shoot a free throw plus possession on the next play.

    I think that should fix flopping for sure. This way if the team that got away flopping and gained advantage on a previous play will be penalized. The opposing team can get it back by shooting a free throw and possession. No more fines after the fact.

  4. Nathan says:

    It’s not that Charlotte isn’t focused on getting better players, but a lot of people don’t understand why we really want the Hornets back. The Hornets are a symbol to Charlotte, even the police officers in Charlotte have a Hornets nest patched onto the uniform. This will sell out a lot of games, bring in merchandise sells, and allow us to get better players. And yes, they will sell more merchandise, old Charlotte Hornets gear has always sold more then Bobcats gear. I’m happy.

  5. Lix says:

    i wish there was an expanded replay for flopping. If i player gets caught, he’ll get suspended for one game…

    wait….then Lebron wouldn’t get to play any games next season….

  6. LBJ43v3|2 says:

    charlotte horneys

  7. Ryan says:

    Okay, so I love it. I was a huge Hornets fan back in the day, and when Charlotte was granted a franchise again, I was extremely disappointed that their old identity was gone, in a different city that didn’t have the “Hornets” background, never to be reclaimed. It didn’t belong in New Orleans, and it felt weird to me to have the Charlotte Bobcats and the New Orleans Pelicans in the same league.

    For me, this rights a wrong that happened a long time ago. Now the history created by players like Larry Johnson, Bogues, Alonzo Mourning, Glen Rice, Anthony Mason, Del Curry, and many more can live on, and the best selling jerseys in the NBA can make a return.

    They will make this money back in merchandising. Once they modern up that jersey, and it says Charlotte on a Hornets jersey again it will be all good. No one in New Orleans bought into it because it felt like a stolen identity. I predict good things from the 30+ crowd, who still remembers Charlotte Hornets and loved them.

  8. NewCommentator says:

    The last rule does not state that a team on offense will lose possession if a player saves the ball and is off the court. It simply states that if I player from a team that is on offense goes off the court for some stupid reason, his team will lose possession. Good rule I think.

  9. KinskiJGER says:

    I agree to the change of Charlotte’s name because there will be at least one person who will be warmed his heart:
    dell curry ;)

  10. James says:

    instead of wasting time changing their team name… why cant they just focus on making their team better???… smh! if not then might as well put charlotte in the d.league!!!

  11. ac says:

    I really would’ve liked to see the NBA take a tougher stance on flopping for this upcoming season and beyond. It really got out of hand in the playoffs and ended up deciding several key games. The finals were officiated pretty well I feel, but several games in the Chicago vs Miami, Indiana vs NYK, and Indiana vs Miami series’ individual plays that were clear flops went on to decide a game and thus play a major role in deciding the series.

    Star athletes don’t respond to fines because we’ve created a culture amongst the top athletes where they have no conception or appreciation for money. Allen Iverson once forgot where he parked his Mercedes so he called a cab, went to the Mercedes dealership, and bought a new car, straight cash. Obviously that’s a pretty extreme example, but my point remains. If you want to stop flopping, start enforcing suspensions these athletes don’t respond to fines, they respond when their ego is insulted. When you’re suspended, you don’t get paid for that game anyway so its a double whammy.

    It started in the mid-90s with Vlade Divac and other guys, and since then it has steadily grown to where its become an almost integral part of many games. It destroys the integrity of a game that I love so much and the league really needs to step up and take more aggressive measures in fighting this epidemic.

  12. B Radd says:

    So…who r they again?

  13. John says:

    Lose a possesion? Saving the ball tends to be chaotic and not easy to get back on the court. I hope this doesn’t mean that they’ll penalize teams earlier than they do now, because they offer reasonable time to get back on the court. If they are now going to offer less time and invoke the penalty, that is going to be lame. Hustle makes games exciting. It’s the getting around the ton of reporters and whatnot that tangles players up.

    • rtl3 says:

      You need to up your reading skills. The rule clearly says “UNLESS he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.”

      Let’s just call this what it is… The Demarcus Cousins rule.

    • R says:

      Maybe they’re referring to players who decide to tie their shoe and not play defense (John Wall)?

      Otherwise I think it’s a dumb rule, it’s only fitting for playing pick-up games at the park or at open gyms where you come across those winded guys who just cherry pick and play no D

  14. Kristoffer says:

    Seriously, for me, the last rule is such a BS.

  15. #BULLS says:

    I dont like half of the new rules.. Maybe they should explain them a little better. lol there are typos and missing punctuation that makes it hard to read….

  16. Josh says:

    Glad to hear there will be no changes on the flopping rules so the league can keep favoring their superstar players.

  17. J says:

    I love those rules
    make sence

  18. J says:

    somebody read this:

    I think its weird that the bobcats are aloud to take the hornets name. they are two different teams.
    the bobcats have always been the charlotte bobcats since joining the league in 2004 (I think) and the hornets have been the charlotte/new Orleans hornets until next season. bear with me, the new Orleans hornets/pelicans were the charlotte hornets first. so why is a completely different team in the charlotte bobcats aloud to take their name and city?
    when it happens there will be 2 different eras/teams of charlotte hornets, the one from 1988 till 2002 and the one in the future.
    sorry if I confused you. XP

    my whole point is the bobcats shouldn’t take the name of the hornets while they are in charlotte cause their not the charlotte hornets if that makes sence and if they were in new York for eg. it would be fine cause they would be a hornets team in a different city thus people don’t get confused by 2 teams called the same but different

    so I think it would be best if they stuck with charlotte bobcats cause they are not charlotte hornets… and get your own team name!!! I don’t know maybe the dragons or puppies or caterpillars!!! :P get a different one!!! or keep bobcats!!!

    thank you for taking the time to read this :)

  19. Hate my warriors says:

    How about giving the defender his airspace on the perimeter. If I jump before the offensive player moves I have the right to whatever path I jumped on. The offensive player can then choose to stand still and prove I would have landed on them or go around me. Jumping into me at that point would be a no call later punishable under flopping fines.

    • dd def says:

      i agree, that cheap tactic bugs hell out of me, another one i can’t stand, and i use KD as an example of this only because i’ve seen him do it a lot: altering how he goes up for the shot so that he swipes through the defenders arms and draws the shooting foul called. if he didn’t reach way out and just went up with the shot like normal there’d have been no contact. i think any shot where the offensive player innitiates the contact should be either a no-call or an offensive foul

  20. Al Jefferson!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. CHINA MAN says:

    I like bobcats better

  22. Bespoken says:

    •A team on offense will lose possession if one of its players leaves the floor and does not immediately return, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.

    -this is one stupid rule, too much possiblites and hard to call. Can’t see this goes through after this season.

  23. What? says:

    The Lakers should pick up Aaron Brooks as a backup PG instead of Nash. Much cheaper. Even Nate Robinson plays better and cheaper.