NBA cuts down on timeouts to improve viewing experience

NEW YORK • The National Basketball Association (NBA) Board of Governors has unanimously approved rules changes regarding timeouts and free throws while moving the trade deadline ahead of the NBA All-Star Game, the league announced on Wednesday.

At a meeting in Las Vegas, league owners voted to cut the maximum number of timeouts in a game from 18 to 14.

Also, in the final three minutes of a game, teams will be allowed only two timeouts each. Previously, they were allowed three per club in the final two minutes.

"These changes will help us fulfil our goal of improving game flow and pace of play," said NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell.

"Fewer stoppages and less time without action, especially at the end of a game, will further enhance the viewing experience for our fans."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver added: "What we heard from our fans was that the end of the games in particular were too choppy.

"We think these new changes will have a significant impact, especially at the end of the game."

The changes, like other approved moves, came after the NBA's competition committee recommended the alterations.

The trade deadline was moved forward two weeks, from the Thursday after the NBA All-Star Game to the Thursday coming 10 days before the elite showdown of Eastern and Western Conference talent.

The move allows clubs to settle their rosters before the break, avoiding disruptions resulting from players joining new clubs just as workouts and games resume after the All-Star Game break.

To further improve game flow, referees will call a delay-of-game violation if a free-throw shooter ventures beyond the three-point arc between attempts.

Also, half-time breaks will be 15 minutes for all games starting the moment the second quarter ends, with a delay-of-game penalty issued to any team not ready to resume at that point.

The league will now allow seven timeouts per team per game with all timeouts lasting 75 seconds.

Previously, timeouts could be 90 seconds or "20-second" stoppages that typically lasted a minute.

All four periods will have two mandatory timeouts, which will take place after the first stoppage under the seven- and three-minute marks.

An under-nine-minute mandatory timeout in the second and fourth periods will be eliminated.

Each team can carry up to four timeouts into the fourth quarter, but face the new limitation in the final three minutes.

Teams will have two timeouts in any over-time period, a reduction from three.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'NBA cuts down on timeouts to improve viewing experience'. Print Edition | Subscribe