On Tuesday, the NBA Board of Directors met to discuss the possible change to the Hack-A-Shaq rule for the 2016-17 season.
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Many teams have grown accustomed to this style of play as the San Antonio Spurs were the first team to use it as an advantage to their opponents whom have poor free-throw shooters on the floor. Gregg Popovich was not ashamed to use the rule as there were no repercussions. Now, the NBA
“In looking at the data and numerous potential solutions to combat the large increase in deliberate away-from-the-play foul situations, we believe these steps offer the most measured approach,” said Kiki VanDeWeghe, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations. “The introduction of these new rules is designed to curb the increase in such fouls without eliminating the strategy entirely.”
There was a strategy. Foul the worst free-throw shooter on the team and see if they can beat you at the line. That is exactly what the strategy was for. Nobody wants to watch an NBA game where there is constant fouls on players away from the ball. San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich put it in perspective after a playoff game against the Los Angeles Clippers where Hack-A-Shaq was used on the Clippers DeAndre Jordan.
April 7, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich instructs during the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 112-101. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
“There will be a lot of discussion about the fouling, as there should be. But principle-wise, I feel really strongly that it’s a tactic that can be used. If someone can’t shoot free-throws, that’s their problem. As I’ve said before, if we’re not allowed to do something to take advantage of a team’s weakness, a trade should be made before each game. ‘We won’t foul your guy, but you promise not to block any of our shots.’ Or, ‘We won’t foul your guy, and you allow us to shoot all uncontested shots.’ So we’d have to make a trade. On an intellectual or principle basis, I think you’re on high ground. Now, visual-wise, it’s awful. It couldn’t be worse. I tend to side on the principle side where it’s basketball, and we have a guy who can’t shoot and it’s an important part of the game, I should probably get him off the court. We’ll see how it comes out; I’m sure the way it looks will be discussed very seriously by the league.”
If you have a player that cannot shoot free throws and it is late in a game, you probably don’t want him out there on the court. Many teams have taken advantage of using this tactic. For San Antonio, during the playoffs is when Popovich used the tactics more often than he would during the regular season.
There are times when the hack-a-shaq can be the butt-end of a joke. When Shaquille O’Neal and the Phoenix Suns visited San Antonio, five seconds into the game, Michael Finley reached out and grabbed O’Neal right after the tip off. I must say, the reactions to both was great.
Rules changes relating to deliberate away-from-the-play foul rules:
* The current rule for away-from-the-play fouls applicable to the last two minutes of the fourth period (and last two minutes of any overtime) — pursuant to which the fouled team is awarded one free throw and retains possession of the ball — will be extended to the last two minutes of each period.
* For inbounds situations, a defensive foul at any point during the game that occurs before the ball is released by the inbounder (including a “legitimate” or “natural” basketball action such as a defender fighting through a screen) will be administered in the same fashion as an away-from-the-play foul committed during the last two minutes of any period (i.e., one free throw and possession of the ball).
* The flagrant foul rules will be used to protect against any dangerous or excessively hard deliberate fouls. In particular, it will presumptively be considered a flagrant foul if a player jumps on an opponent’s back to commit a deliberate foul. Previously, these type of fouls were subject to being called flagrant but were not automatic.