Last night, the NBA Board of Governors approved the implementation of a handful of rule changes, which include a few tweaks to the league's instant replay policies.
First, the instant replay stuff. Referees can now use replay in the following situations:
• When reviewing a block/charge play to determine whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area, officials will now be permitted to reverse a charge call, or uphold a blocking call, when the defender was outside the restricted area but was not set when the offensive player began his upward shooting motion.
• To determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has started his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.
• During the review of any instant replay situation to permit the officials to assess the appropriate penalties of any unsportsmanlike and unnecessary acts (e.g. flagrant fouls) that are observed during the instant replay reviews.
Obviously, that first one will have the most impact on a game-to-game basis, and it's a positive step forward for the league. Blown block/charge calls are one of the more frustrating aspects of the game, and this rule change gives referees an increased opportunity to get calls right on plays they would have already been reviewing. Still, I'm sure Jeff Van Gundy will find some way to complain about this rule during the season.
And here are the other minor tweaks to the rule book:
• On clear path to the basket fouls, it will no longer be considered a clear path foul if at any point before the foul is committed, the defender who commits the foul is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt.
• A team on offense will lose possession if its player leaves the floor and does not immediately return to the floor, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.
We are for any rule that makes clear path violations easier to understand (because they are hard to understand), but that second change is a bummer for the league's more devious coaches, who had started doing things like telling specific offensive players to stand out of bounds in order to create even more floor spacing.
Meanwhile, no changes were made to the league's anti-flopping policy, which was characterized as insufficient by David Stern just last month.