NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday the league will likely put a new rule in place to prevent “Hack-a-Shaq” from occurring. Silver said the NBA would like to have a new rule in place before the start of the 2016-17 season.
“It's not unanimous, but there is clearly an emerging consensus, both among the members of the competition committee and the owners, who we made a presentation to at last week's meetings, that we need to address the situation,” Silver said, per Sports Illustrated. “Exactly what the new rule should be is still open for debate. At least I'm hoping that between now and when the owners next meet in July we can create and form a consensus as to what a change in the rule should be.”
Hack-a-Shaq is a technique teams use to intentionally foul a poor free throw shooter as a means of gaining an advantage. Though the current rule has its merits, it’s a wise move by the NBA to make this change. Hack-a-Shaq slows the game down and the league wants to attract more fans, not deter them.
According to Silver, the NBA’s research suggests it only has a minor impact on the success of a team. It “adds approximately 11 minutes to the game," so the rule change is largely about maintaining and improving the quality of the game.
“It sort of goes against the spirit of the rule book,” said Kiki Vandeweghe, the NBA's vice president of basketball operations. “The free throws are to compensate and deter fouls, not to encourage them. And so I think we're at the point where everyone agrees on that.”
The looming rule change will impact the Celtics to a minor degree.
Brad Stevens has scarcely used “Hack-a-Shaq” against poor free throw shooters like Andre Drummond, or for a change of pace at the end of quarters, but it’s never been a prominent strategy. It’s also rarely been used against the Celtics, since Amir Johnson (57 percent from the line) is the only hackable player on the roster.
From a broader perspective, it might impact decisions by the front office. Poor free throw shooters will gain some value with a rule change, so the Celtics might be more likely to pursue such a player. Looking ahead to the 2016 offseason, players like Festus Ezeli, Bismack Biyombo, or Ian Mahinmi are free agent rim protectors that will be helped by the new rule.
With eight draft picks, the Celtics could also look to the 2016 NBA Draft for a cost-controlled big man instead of tossing money into free agent market.
Looking solely at subpar free throw shooters, Texas' Prince Ibeh and Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku are two rim protectors that could be available in the second round, and Michigan State's Deyonta Davis has appeal as an upside pick with the No. 16 Mavericks pick.
No longer will it be a hinderance to Brad Stevens’ rotation if he has a poor free throw shooter on the roster. And for fans of the NBA, there will be no more complaining about the lethargic pace of games that feature Hack-a-Shaq.