NBA weighing new rules on contact, holding ball

With scoring still down, possessions, pace focus

June 23, 1999|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK -- The NBA is considering rule changes next season that would limit contact away from the ball and quicken the pace of the game.

A special committee headed by deputy commissioner Russ Granik and senior vice president of basketball operations Rod Thorn met for about six hours yesterday to discuss possible changes.

The recommendations for change come after a season during which teams averaged 91.6 points, down about 10 points from four years ago. Commissioner David Stern and Granik said Monday that the league would consider rules changes to improve the quality of play.

"If we come out of this with a game that looks better and scores are about the same, I don't think the committee would think that would be a failure," Granik said.

The league is considering:

Banning players from keeping the ball for more than five seconds below the foul line.

Encouraging referees to call more fouls away from the ball.

Changing shot-clock rules to create more possessions.

Making the illegal-defense rule easier for fans to understand.

The five-second rule proposal is designed to prevent players from backing down their opponents while dribbling the ball. It was a tactic used by the Indiana Pacers in their conference final against the New York Knicks.

Indiana's Mark Jackson often caught the ball in the post area and held it for more than 10 seconds as he worked his way to the basket.

Granik said referees will be instructed to call more fouls away from the ball. For instance, when a player is cutting through the lane, his progress cannot be impeded.

The shot-clock proposal would cut the amount of time a team gets when a player is fouled. If a player whose team has the ball is fouled in the front court and there are fewer than 14 seconds left on the shot clock, then it'll be reset to 14.

If there are more than 14 seconds, it won't change. Previously, it was reset to 24 seconds no matter when the foul occurred.

Pub Date: 6/23/99

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