The NBA took at least a baby step Wednesday toward avoiding the last two minutes of games lasting 10 or more minutes in real time.
The league’s Board of Governors (made up of the owners or their designated representatives) voted to change several rules regarding timeouts, starting with the 2017-18 season, including reducing the maximum per game from 18 to 14. The NBA also did away with the difference between “full” and “20-second” timeouts.
The modifications approved during the annual summer league meeting in Las Vegas:
▪ Each team will have seven timeouts available per game, with no restrictions per half.
▪ All timeouts will last 75 seconds. Previously, a “full” timeout lasted 90 seconds and a “20-second” actually lasted 60 seconds.
▪ Each quarter will still have two mandatory timeouts for television commercials. They will come at the first stoppage of play after the seven-minute and three-minute marks.
▪ Two previous timeouts, with under nine minutes left in the second and fourth quarters, have been eliminated.
▪ Each team can save up to four timeouts for the fourth quarter.
▪ Each team is limited to calling no more than two timeouts after the later of (1) the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter or (2) resumption of play after the second mandatory timeout in the fourth quarter.
▪ Each team will have two timeouts available to call per overtime, reduced from previous three.
The league’s intent in these changes is to improve game flow and pace. Coaches typically hoard as many timeouts as allowed for the end of a close game for strategic reasons, including substituting for offense or defense, depending on score and situation.
One other significant change: The NBA is moving its annual trade deadline earlier in the calendar. Previously, the deadline was the Thursday after All-Star Weekend in February. Now it will be the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game.
The reasoning, according to the league’s release, was to avoid teams incorporating so many roster changes after the All-Star break. Typically, there is little opportunity to practice that late in the season.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell