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NBA announces rules changes, instant replay tweaks; flopping policy unchanged

David Stern said the NBA's flopping policy will remain unchanged in 2013-14. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

David Stern of the NBA

The NBA's Board of Governors announced Thursday five minor rule changes, including a number of tweaks to the league's instant replay and video review system.

Additionally, commissioner David Stern told reporters that the Competition Committee did not adopt any updates or changes to the league's anti-flopping policy. Stern previously stated that the current flopping policy "isn't enough" to affect player behavior; Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, a Competition Committee member, told reporters last month that no changes to the flopping policy were recommended by the committee for adoption by the Board of Governors.

The updated rule changes cover reviews of block/charge calls, timing of off-ball fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct. The league also adjusted its clear path foul rule and decided to assess a turnover if an offensive player lingers out of bounds during live ball situations.

The full changes are as follows.

Instant replay may now be used:

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  • When reviewing a block/charge play to determine whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area, officials will now be permitted to reverse a charge call, or uphold a blocking call, when the defender was outside the restricted area but was not set when the offensive player began his upward shooting motion.
  • To determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has started his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.
  • During the review of any instant replay situation to permit the officials to assess the appropriate penalties of any unsportsmanlike and unnecessary acts (e.g. flagrant fouls) that are observed during the instant replay reviews.

Additional rules modifications:

  • On clear path to the basket fouls, it will no longer be considered a clear path foul if at any point before the foul is committed, the defender who commits the foul is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt.
  • A team on offense will lose possession if its player leaves the floor and does not immediately return to the floor, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.

There really isn't a headline-grabbing move among these changes. Beefing up the block/charge calls makes total sense, as does the clear path rule change, which should make life easier for the referees and result in more accurate rulings. The out-of-bounds rule seems to be an attempt to reduce any strategic advantage gained from creating extra space on the court.

The NBA has steadily added in-game video review for various situations over the last decade. Beginning with reviews for buzzer-beating baskets, the system has expanded to include flagrant fouls, altercations, clock malfunctions, whether a three-point shooter’s foot was on the line, clear-path fouls and late-game goaltending calls, among other scenarios. Stern said in June that the NBA would also investigate the addition of an off-site replay official to help make the video review system more efficient.

Earlier this month, the NBA announced that president of basketball operations Stu Jackson will soon resign his position and that Rod Thorn has been selected as his replacement. Jackson oversaw the league’s game rules, conduct and discipline. He was charged with handing out suspensions and fines for fights and incidents with referees while also heading up the league’s new anti-flopping initiative.

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