The NBA Board of Governors convened on Friday and voted on a series of rule changes that will affect the upcoming season, notably involving tampering, traveling and setting lineups.
Tampering has been a big point of discussion over the offseason as dozens of stars changed teams, and early contact between teams and players remains among the sport’s worst-kept secrets. The Board of Governors, made up of representatives from every team, is hoping this solution will help.
How the new rules will actually be enforced and what their unintended consequences will be are worth monitoring as well.
New rules clarify the gather step
James Harden’s creative gather step took the NBA by storm last season but also left plenty of fans (and players) scratching their head, wondering why he wasn’t being called for a travel.
With that in mind, the league voted to add new language to the rule book on traveling violations that clarify the rule. As ESPN's Marc J. Spears reported, the rules will more clearly define the gather and how many steps players can take after it a player can take.
No word yet on if Harden’s one-legged step-back three will be deemed legal if he debuts it in the fall.
Penalties for tampering will be harsher
Perhaps the most notable changes came with tampering, where fines for teams will be doubled to a maximum of $10 million, plus $6 million for entering into unauthorized agreements. Silver noted that fines are not often the best way to punish multi-billionaire owners, but he wanted to increase his power.
ESPN's Tim Bontemps also reported that Silver will have the ability to take phones and computers away from executives and players to check for impermissible communication.
Adam Silver on tampering punishments: "Suspending executives...taking away draft picks....voiding contracts...All those provisions are on the table. The ultimate goal is compliance." Silver says fining teams can often be the least effective avenue to rules compliance.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 20, 2019
How much this will affect free agency will be quite interesting. Teams and players come to agreements on deals well before the moratorium is lifted. Kevin Durant announced he was headed to the Brooklyn Nets before he was allowed to sign. It will be hard to know how things will change until the league drops its hammer on a team to send a message.
Some teams were reportedly concerned that the league was rushing to come up with a solution and weren’t clear how the league’s investigations would work. However, the vote passed unanimously.
Slightly altered rules about setting lineups
As one other notable rule change, teams will now have to report their starting lineup to the league 30 minutes before the opening tip rather than 10 minutes before, as the rules currently allow.
Teams will still be allowed to make changes after the fact if a player aggravates an injury or suffers a new one, but this should give teams and fans more clarity about what to expect.
Several other pro leagues have moved up the time at which teams are required to turn in lineups to give more transparency to bettors and clarity about injuries.
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