Those changes Adam Silver talked about earlier this month, designed to cut down on or eliminate the strategy of fouling the shit out of poor free-throw shooters, have already come to partial fruition, and this, at least, didn’t require a rule change.
Intentional fouls away from the ball in the game’s final two minutes are already discouraged by awarding the fouled team a shot and possession. But teams have found a way around that: mauling a player during a free throw attempt counts merely as a loose ball foul. No longer.
In an NBA memo sent to teams yesterday, the league announced that jumping on the back of players during free throw attempts can be classified as flagrant fouls.
We have recently seen instances during games in which a player, in order to commit a deliberate foul, jumps on an opponent’s back during a free throw attempt. This is a potentially dangerous play against a player in a vulnerable position.
Please be advised that the referees have been instructed to evaluate such plays under all applicable playing rules, including the rules relating to Flagrant Fouls. Players remain free to commit deliberate fouls during free throw attempts, but such fouls will be assessed as Flagrant if they meet the applicable criteria. (See this memo of October 26 for the factors used in determining and classifying Flagrant Fouls.)
Whether these will actually be ruled flagrant fouls remains to be seen. If so, goodbye to this: