Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
VIDEO: Adam Silver addresses ‘Hack-a’ fouls
> You were just named to the NBA’s competition committee. Top of the agenda for your first meeting: “Hack-a-Shaq.” You have the floor for two minutes. Go.
David Aldridge, TNT analyst: “I know you and your teams are paid to win. And I know you’re all smart people, and will figure out ways to maximize Hack-A every chance you get. But basketball is a game of movement and flow. Hack-a is the antithesis of flow; it destroys a game’s momentum. We are a sport, but we are also a business, and both from a business and entertainment standpoint, asking fans who may get to go to one or two games a year to sit through Andre Drummond or Rajon Rondo or whoever it is shooting 20-plus free throws or letting games creep toward three hours is not fair or smart. I do not want to eliminate Hack-A, but I want to make it less beneficial for your teams to use and abuse it. So I propose these two rule changes: any off the ball foul before a team reaches the penalty–fouls one through five in a quarter–will result in a technical foul against the fouling team. You can still use Hack-A to get to the bonus, but it may cost you five points. Then, after the fifth foul, you can use Hack-A on the sixth and seventh team fouls in a quarter, just as you do now. But on the eighth and subsequent fouls, the current under two minutes in the fourth quarter rule will apply–one free throw plus possession for the deliberately fouled team. You can use Hack-A after the bonus begins, but only in limited fashion. And then, we go back to playing basketball. Thanks for your time.”
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’ve been “won” over to the gotta-fix-this side of things and by that I mean tweaking rules, not relying on a half dozen or so lousy foul shooters to get in their respective gyms and somehow swiftly get to 70 percent. All sorts of rules have been altered through the years in pursuit of a better game — they no longer remove the ball from the peach basket and jump it up after each field goal, you might have noticed — and it’s time for the league to treat the away-from-the-ball fouls, for 48 minutes, the way it does for the final two: one free throw and possession. It’s grueling to see this tactic played out repeatedly in a game — that’s the only way we see it, over and over, never just a one-and-done move — grinding momentum in lockstep with fans’ molars. There’s always the opportunity to embarrass bad free-throw shooters when they do touch the ball, but Hack-A-Whomever is just gamesmanship without artistry, skill or watchability. That’s not what the NBA is selling.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: “Make your damn free throws. Now you, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan can spend the next 1:55 practicing them.”
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: “We can’t change our rules because of four or five players. I get it. Hack-a-Shaq is boring. But the league is getting record TV ratings, right, so how much can fans really be hating it? Or maybe they understand that for all the attention the issue receives, it’s not a common occurrence. Again: four or five players. My suggestion is a slight compromise that could make a big difference. Take the current rule about increased penalties for fouls away from the ball the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and the final two minutes of each overtime period and eliminate the time element. Make it for the entire game. The coach of the team that was fouled gets to pick anyone on the court to take the free throws and then the team gets to retain possession. If the other team wants a lot of guys with five fouls in the second quarter, great. It doesn’t happen that often, though. It’s four or five players.”
Shaun Powell, NBA.com: “Gentlemen, at any time in a game, if you intentionally foul away from the ball, the other team shall shoot two free throws and retain possession of the ball. Any objections? Good. What’s for lunch?”
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I’d go to the intentional-foul rules we had when I was in high school. Any foul that’s judged to be intentional is penalized with two shots and possession for the opponent. That could be an intentional foul away from the ball or an intentional foul meant to stop a fast break (I’m looking at you, Pablo Prigioni), so that you can get rid of the silly, confusing and time-wasting clear path rule at the same time. To avoid the extra penalty, you have to make a play on the ball, going for a steal or a block or trying to draw a charge. But the officials could give the fouler a little leeway when he’s trailing in the final minute and fouling to get the ball back.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: ) “Listen, we’re not going to waste any more time on this issue than is necessary. We’re not changing anything. No way, no how. Tell your poor free throw shooters that they obviously have plenty of work to do this summer. Next item of business.”
Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: The rule as currently written is unjust, because too often it punishes the victim of the foul and rewards the fouler. We ought to be throwing the rulebook at the perpetrators of these fouls. They are the ones who need to be punished. If your intention is to exploit a loophole that violates the spirit of the game, then your cynicism should be penalized instantly and with compelling authority. (The coaches themselves would agree: As much as they don’t like it, the current rule forces them to violate their own principles in order to win the game.) From now on, the team that is fouled away from the ball may designate which of its players will shoot the free throws while retaining possession thereafter. Henceforth these violations will be treated like technical fouls – crimes against the game itself. In order to break outselves of this ugly hack-a-habit we need to understand two things. First, the moral is not that players should be able to make their free throws. I mean, who didn’t know that already? No, the real lesson here is that the spirit of the game is under attack. Second, this is not to be addressed from the commercial point of view. It is not about TV ratings or drama. The issues here are ethics and fairness. The fans need to know that nothing is more important than the spirit of the game.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I am against changing any rules to protect players who are bad at their jobs. That said, it’s clear when players are sprinting into the backcourt or out of bounds to hack someone that they are also taking advantage of the rules. So we don’t make any major rule changes, we just start calling intentional fouls as intentional and make the penalties more strict for that.