NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he is “on the fence” about players intentional fouling away from the ball and expects the league to take up the issue in the upcoming months.
The San Antonio Spurs sent Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to the free-throw line 17 times during Tuesday’s 111-107 overtime victory in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. Jordan, who was a 39.7 percent free-throw shooter during the regular season, only made six of his attempts.
Currently, during the last two minutes of the fourth period or overtime period(s) with the offensive team in possession of ball, a personal foul and team foul is assessed for any foul away from the play.
Silver says he is not pushing for a change in the rules, but admits that strategy of teams fouling an opponent’s worst free-throw shooter is “fascinating” in some cases.
“I’ve gone back and forth,” Silver said, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve sat in meetings with some of the greatest players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, who said that players should learn to make their free throws and it's part of the game. At the same time, it doesn't make for great television, so I'm on the fence right now.”
While Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich didn’t invent the strategy, he has been one of its most frequent users, first starting with former NBA great Shaquille O'Neal - where the tactic got the nickname "Hack-a-Shaq."
Silver expects the Competition Committee to discuss it at its June meeting.
“I’ve listened to owners change their point of view on it both ways. General managers and coaches as well,” Silver said. “So it's our job to take a longer-term view of it, but I think that's one of those issues that we're going to be very engaged in over the next few months.”
Silver will also look at the draft lottery and playoff format and if division winners should continue to get a top-four seed.
This season, Portland earned the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference ahead of Memphis and San Antonio, who both finished four games ahead of the Blazers in the final standings.
“I think we've got to go one way or the other,'' Silver said. ''We've got to act like it really matters and it's meaningful to win your division, or decide to go in another direction and decide we should be a league without divisions.”
- Scooby Axson