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NBA makes changes to timeout format with game flow, pace of play in mind

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder looks into the stands at a timeout as the Jazz and the Thunder play at Vivint Smart Home arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.
Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder looks into the stands at a timeout as the Jazz and the Thunder play at Vivint Smart Home arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

LAS VEGAS — Basketball writers on tight deadlines and fans who think NBA games drag on too long should be pleased with some upcoming rules changes in the league.

Multiple changes to timeout format, the length of halftime and procedures for administering free throws will be implemented beginning this season after unanimous approval by the NBA's Board of Governors on Wednesday, the league announced.

Two of the bigger changes to timeouts include the reduction of timeouts per game from 18 to 14 and limiting teams to only two timeouts apiece instead of three in the final two minutes.

"These changes will help us fulfill our goal of improving game flow and pace of play," NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell 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."

Timeout modifications, per the press release, include:

  • Each team will have seven timeouts per game, with no restrictions per half.
  • All team timeouts will be 75 seconds. In the previous format, "full" timeouts were 90 seconds and "20-second" timeouts were 60 seconds. Both "full" and "20-second" timeouts have been replaced by team timeouts.
  • All four periods will have two mandatory timeouts, which will take place after the first stoppage under the seven- and three-minute marks.
  • The under-nine-minute mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth periods will be eliminated.
  • Each team can enter the fourth period with up to four team timeouts.
  • Each team will be limited to two team timeouts after the later of the three-minute mark of the fourth period or the resumption of play after the second mandatory timeout of the fourth period.
  • Each team will have two team timeouts per overtime period; previously teams had three.

Game-flow changes as outlined by the NBA:

  • Referees will assess a delay-of-game violation if a free-throw shooter ventures beyond the 3-point line between attempts.
  • Halftime will last 15 minutes for all games, beginning immediately upon expiration of the second period. A delay-of-game penalty will be issued if a team is not ready to start play at the expiration of the halftime clock.

The NBA also decided to move the midseason trade deadline from the Thursday after the All-Star Game to 10 days before the annual event in February. That will help avoid awkward situations like when DeMarcus Cousins presumably found out he was being traded during an interview session at All-Star Weekend last season.

"With the new placement of the trade deadline," the release explained, "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."

Utah is represented on the NBA's Board of Governors by former Jazz CEO Greg Miller.