- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Changes are coming to the NBA — and they’re designed to speed up the games.

The league announced Wednesday it will eliminate four timeouts throughout the course of games beginning next season. In addition, teams will be limited to only two timeouts in the final three minutes instead of previously having three timeouts in the last two minutes.

And in an unrelated move, the NBA is also pushing up the trade deadline to the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game. Next year’s trade deadline falls Feb. 8.

The games before and after the break will have a maximum of 14 timeouts instead of the traditional 18.

The NBA is getting rid of two mandated television timeouts at the under-nine minute mark for the second and fourth quarters. The league is also scrapping two potential timeouts in overtime, giving teams a maximum of two timeouts instead of three.

The changes were decided at the annual Board of Governors meetings in Las Vegas.

“These changes will help us fulfill our goal of improving game flow and pace of play,” said Byron Spruell, NBA President of League Operations said in a statement. “Fewer stoppages and less time without action, especially at the end of a game, will further enhance the viewing experience for our fans.”

Each team will have seven timeouts during a game, each lasting 75 seconds. Before, the NBA differentiated between 90-second “full” and 60-second “20-second” timeouts. Teams previously had six full timeouts and one 20-second timeout. 

The NBA has mandatory stoppages for commercials at the under-seven and under-three minute mark of every quarter, which will remain in place. Those stoppages, however, count toward the 14 total and replace team timeouts if they’re not used. 

At the start of the fourth quarter, teams can enter the period with up to four timeouts. 

Effectively, the NBA is cutting down the maximum number of seconds for timeouts from 600 to 525.

Regarding late-game scenarios, teams now having a maximum of two timeouts in the final three minutes instead of three in the final two allows games to have a more natural flow while allowing a quicker finish.

“We’re pretty happy with the length of the game,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said at a press conference. “We were more focused here on the pace and flow of the game. What we heard from our fans, what we heard from many of our teams, was that the end of the games in particular were too choppy. And I think since I was a kid, that was an issue people were talking about, the last two minutes of a game.”

In another effort to not waste time, the NBA will also assess delay-of-game warnings to any player that wanders beyond the three-point arc in between free throw attempts. Teams will also be given a delay-of-game violation for teams not ready to start the game following halftime, which is 15 minutes and begins immediately when the first half ends.

A second delay-of-game warning produces a technical foul.

The league is also moving up the trade deadline. Traditionally, the NBA trade deadline fell on the Thursday following the All-Star game.

But the NBA said in a statement, “With the new placement of the trade deadline, teams will be able to settle their rosters before the All-Star break and avoid the disruptions that result from players joining new teams just as practices and games are beginning to resume following the All-Star break.”

Last season, then-Sacramento Kings star DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans the night of the All-Star Game. The trade led to confusion and an awkward situation for Cousins, who was pulled from the game. Silver said if an All-Star is traded between conferences before the game, it would be handled on a case-by-case basis.

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