Coaches sup­port rule changes

Woonsocket Call - - Sports - By BRIAN MA­HONEY Associated Press

NEWYORK — Mike D'An­toni ran an of­fen­sive sys­tem known as seven se­conds or less, so he likes things fast.

Good thing, be­cause NBA coaches find things come at them more quickly this sea­son.

They are los­ing time and time­outs, with fewer days to pre­pare be­fore the reg­u­lar sea­son and fewer chances to talk things over dur­ing games.

Throw in new rules leg­is­lat­ing how they can rest play­ers, and there are plenty of ad­just­ments even for vet­eran coaches.

“I think it's good,” said D'An­toni, the NBA coach of the year with Hous­ton last year. “Take stuff out of coaches' hands, be­cause we just screw it up any­way. So it's bet­ter for the play­ers.” Among the changes: — Tues­day's start is the NBA's ear­li­est since 1980. It's a week ear­lier than nor­mal, with the max­i­mum num­ber of pre­sea­son games cut from eight to six.

— Time­outs are re­duced from 18 to 14, with each team hav­ing seven. They will be lim­ited to two dur­ing the last three min­utes of games, in­stead of the pre­vi­ous rule that per­mit­ted three time­outs in the fi­nal two min­utes.

— Teams can be fined $100,000 or more for rest­ing healthy play­ers dur­ing na­tional TV games, and are dis­cour­aged from rest­ing mul­ti­ple healthy play­ers in the same game or sit­ting them in road games.

— Half­time will be 15 min­utes for all games — and the league plans to be dili­gent about start­ing the clock as soon as the first half ends. There pre­vi­ously was a minute or two longer for na­tional TV games, and some­times the clock wouldn't start un­til all play­ers had cleared the floor.

That change caught the at­ten­tion of D'An­toni, who noted that in some are­nas there is a longer walk from the benches to the locker rooms.

“So in­stead of show­ing 10 clips at

“I think it's good. Take stuff out of coaches' hands, be­cause we just screw it up any­way. So it's bet­ter for the play­ers.”

half­time, you might only be able to show two or three,” D'An­toni said.

By­ron Spru­ell, the NBA's pres­i­dent of league op­er­a­tions, said the goal wasn't to shorten the length of games, which run about 2 hours, 15 min­utes. He said the league wanted the games to have a bet­ter flow, and worked with the coaches and Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mit­tee, which in­cludes some coaches, dur­ing the sum­mer on the changes.

Spru­ell said coaches were fine with the re­moval of the un­der-9 minute time­outs in the sec­ond and fourth quar­ters, feel­ing they came too soon af­ter the quar­ters started. There will now be two manda­tory time­outs in each quar­ter, at the un­der-7 and un­der-3 minute marks.

Even at the end of games, coaches ac­knowl­edged there were too many stop­pages.

“As a head coach you al­ways want more time­outs. You want to have that flex­i­bil­ity at the end of the game to be able to help your team,” Mi­ami's Erik Spoel­stra said. “But when I'm watch­ing games, I want there to be less. I do. I want there to be less time­outs and for the games to go a lit­tle bit quicker, par­tic­u­larly at the end. You want to just see the ac­tion.”

All time­outs will now be 75 se­conds. Full time­outs were for­merly 90 se­conds.

“Be­fore you have the lit­tle pow­wow for a long time­out, the coaches try to get reac­quainted and fig­ure out where you're go­ing to eat din­ner,” D'An­toni joked. “But now you've got to go in and ac­tu­ally coach.”

Spru­ell said the league didn't get a lot of push­back from coaches on the sug­gested changes, even com­ing around on the rest­ing rules.

“I'm just happy Adam Sil­ver gave us some good guide­lines to fol­low when it comes to that so we don't feel like we're cheat­ing our fans,” Mem­phis coach David Fiz­dale said. “That was one good thing that came out of the coaches' meet­ings, Adam Sil­ver's lead­er­ship on that.”

Player health was one rea­son for the shorter pre­sea­son. By adding the ex­tra week to the reg­u­lar sea­son, the league re­duced back-to-back games and has no teams play­ing four in five nights for the first time.

Knicks coach Jeff Hor­nacek said the shorter pre­sea­son wouldn't mat­ter to most teams, since they usu­ally run a sim­i­lar sys­tem from year to year un­less there was a coach­ing change, and there were none.

His team is dif­fer­ent. The Knicks are largely scrap­ping the tri­an­gle of­fense they ran when Phil Jack­son was pres­i­dent and re­defin­ing roles with lead­ing scorer Carmelo An­thony traded. They've had a num­ber of nag­ging in­juries and may not see some com­bi­na­tions play to­gether un­til the games count.

“It's one of those years that maybe you wish there was eight ex­hi­bi­tion games, but it is what it is and we just have to work,” Hor­nacek said.

There's also a change for gen­eral man­agers in the form of an ear­lier trade dead­line.

Pre­vi­ously the Thurs­day af­ter the All-Star Game, now it's the Thurs­day 10 days be­fore it. Spru­ell said in dis­cus­sions with GMs, they felt that would ben­e­fit the traded play­ers, who would have the break to ac­cli­mate them­selves to their new cities.

So there's plenty that's new, but Spoel­stra said they will all catch on.

“When­ever there's rules changes, re­gard­less, play­ers or coaches, you even­tu­ally adapt and we'll do that as well,” he said.

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