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The NBA Is Making Some Significant Changes Next Season, and We Have a Few Questions

How will the new allotment of timeouts affect the flow of the game? How will the new trade deadline date affect All-Star blockbusters?

(AP Images)
(AP Images)

By Haley O’Shaughnessy and Paolo Uggetti

Several rule changes approved during the NBA Board of Governors meeting Wednesday will affect the league in various ways this coming season. Among the changes: There will be fewer timeouts during games, and teams will have a shorter window than before to pull off trades before the deadline. What do the new rules mean for the trade deadline, for All-Star weekend, and for strength and conditioning? We have questions about the upcoming season, which will start on October 17, a week earlier than last year, and the same day as … Gucci Mane’s wedding.

Per Adrian Wojnarowski, teams will be limited to two team timeouts in the final three minutes of a game. What does this mean for the end of games?

Uggetti: Shouts to the Board of Governors! This will rescue us from the final three minutes of a game taking about three hours (give or take), though I hope it doesn’t increase the number of reviews. And it will unfortunately decrease how often we get to see whiteboard masterminds like Brad Stevens and Erik Spoelstra work their magic during late-game out-of-bounds timeout plays.

O’Shaughnessy: Veterans have always been valuable, but having players on the floor who understand the game plan inside and out is even more crucial now. Without surplus timeouts to set up a play in the final seconds, players will have to trust the instincts they’ve honed in practice.

I do feel for the coaches, whose stars are born in those final minutes with whiteboard in hand, and who now will have fewer chances to show off their timeout-management skills.

A team’s allotted number of timeouts will reportedly go from 18 to 14 in hopes of improving flow and pace. Is this going to speed up the game?

Uggetti: Fewer timeouts means fewer stoppages. Fewer stoppages means more running without getting a break. That sound you hear is conditioning coaches around the league cracking their knuckles and getting ready to go to work.

Rotations are bound to change as well. Without four usual timeouts to take, staggering minutes between John Wall and Bradley Beal, for example, will be even more important.

O’Shaughnessy: I guess people can now fully dedicate their NBA complaints to LeBron’s traveling violations. But this is good for the game, which, as lovely as it is, is known to draw out the final 1:13 of a meaningless Thursday-night Nets-Suns game into a four-hour miniseries.

For teams without much bench support, the break that those extra timeouts provided is gone. In-game strategy will have to change slightly, and the preparation — getting in Westbrookian shape — has never mattered more.

So they implemented rules last year for Hack-a-Shaq that brought minimal change. Was anything more substantial added this year??

O’Shaughnessy: The NBA didn’t address further rules changes for that in this session, reports Jon Krawczynski, which is interesting to leave out when so many rules were modified for "flow of the game" purposes. Fixing Hack-a-Shaq is more complicated than taking away timeouts or moving up the trade deadline; it’s an in-game judgment of whether or not a foul is intentionally stopping the offense.

Maybe the league even thinks the problem will fix itself?

Uggetti: Do the league’s owners take pride and joy in watching DeAndre Jordan be humiliated at the free throw line? If pace and speed are of utmost importance, and enough to cut down on timeouts, a real part of the game, then there’s no reason why the NBA can’t amend its intentional fouling rule. It’s long overdue.

Per Shams Charania of The Vertical, the 2017–18 trade deadline will end on February 8, 2018, the second Thursday before All-Star weekend. So, players like Boogie Cousins can’t get trade-stranded to the host city anymore?

Uggetti: What will we do without moments like this one?

This is still surreal. Boogie finds out he’s traded as he is talking to the media. It’s a remarkable moment in basketball transaction history that I now cherish even more. As Dan Feldman pointed out here, though, the NBA will lose out on the momentum that is usually created between the All-Star break and the second half of the season. This also ensures that there will be games throughout the deadline, making it inevitable that traded players miss one or two. Then there’s the human aspect of it. Players live where they play, and having to move homes and families to a different city after a sudden trade in the middle of the season is not ideal. Putting the trade deadline before the All-Star Game does allow them more time to facilitate their move.

O’Shaughnessy: The 2018 All-Star weekend will be in Los Angeles. It’s too bad that this tradition will end, because there is a chance that by then Paul George will be fed up with Russell Westbrook, which could have forced the Thunder to speed up the timeline on George’s destined union with the Lakers.

Wait, what happens if an Eastern Conference All-Star gets traded to the West? And vice versa?

Uggetti: In 2008, then–Denver Nugget Allen Iverson got traded for then–Detroit Piston Chauncey Billups. Both not only switched teams but also All-Star sides that season. Personally, though, I would make each player who was traded play one half with the East and one half with the West as an emblem of their split, biconference season. That’s a little thing called symmetry.

O’Shaughnessy: The voting results came out last season on January 19, a month before All-Star weekend. How would the league deal with someone like Damian Lillard being voted in for the first time, only to get traded away two weeks before to the East, which will have [reads list of all offseason moves] theoretically also voted a full All-Star team by that point. My suggestion: Just revamp the All-Star Game to one big layup line where players get to dunk on the front-office executives of their choice for 48 minutes. (Sleep on it.)