After their annual meetings in Las Vegas earlier this week, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously voted on changes pertaining to the pace and flow of the game. The two major points of contention; timeouts and the length of halftime/downtime during play.
With the coming of the new season, there will be a change in the format of timeouts. Both the “full” and “20-second” timeouts have been removed and replaced by the “team” timeout. Each team will have a total of seven “team” timeouts per game, each lasting 75 seconds. Therefore, the total number of timeouts per game will drop from 18 to 14.
The new timeout format also comes with a change to stoppages within the final three minutes of regulation. Instead of each team having a maximum of three timeouts in the final two minutes, they will now be limited to two “team” timeouts in the final three minutes.
Only four “team” timeouts will be allowed entering the fourth quarter, and only two will be awarded per overtime period.
Finally, only two mandatory or “media” timeouts will be taken per half. The regulation timeouts after the nine-minute mark in the 2nd and 4th quarters have been eliminated.
NBA President of League Operations, Byron Spruell, expressed that these changes were implemented to “further enhance the viewing experience for (the) fans”.
Besides the changes to the timeout format, the NBA will also carry new regulations for the halftime break and free throw stoppages. From the end of the 2nd quarter, the halftime break will last a total of 15 minutes. Should a team not be on the floor, ready to play by the end of the 15 minute period, a delay-of-game penalty will be issued.
Also, should a free throw shooter venture beyond the three-point line between attempts, he will be charged with a delay-of-game penalty. Two delay-of-game penalties in a single game result in a technical foul.
In addition to the rule changes above, the Board of Governors also agreed to change the trade deadline to 10 days before the NBA All-Star break to prevent disruptions of the festivities. Rosters will be finalized before the break.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also announced an earlier start to the regular season, eight days earlier than the start of the 2016-17 season. According to Silver, opening day with be Tuesday, October 17th.