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Takeaways from the latest NBA Rule Changes

Harsher penalties for the “take” foul, and the Play-In Tournament is here to stay.

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images

As it does every offseason, the NBA Board of Governors has voted on a variety of rule changes and issues, and perhaps the most prominent one is a heightened penalty for the transition “take” foul, or the act of a defender intentionally fouling a player to prevent him from getting out on the fast break.

It’s a frequent deterrent of highlight opportunities and slows down the pace (which naturally is not what fans want these days), and the league’s remedy will be rewarding the fouled team with one free throw that can be taken by any offensive player on the court, possession of the ball, and the offending defender will be assessed a person foul. (Before, it was just a common foul unless a clear path call was ruled.) The rule can also be applied to a player who doesn’t have the ball but is fouled in a manner that otherwise prevents a fast break, although there is an exception to when “take” fouls are legal:

Under the new rule, teams may commit a take foul during the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and the last two minutes of any overtime period (regardless of whether the foul occurs during a fast-break play) without triggering the heightened penalty. This exception will allow the defensive team to use the longstanding tactic of taking a foul to stop the clock during an attempted comeback or prevent the opposing team from potentially tying the game with a three-pointer.

This new rule should be beneficial to a young Spurs team that finished 8th in the league in fast break points and 11th in steals last season, although they’ll be missing the head of the snake since league-leader in steals, Dejounte Murray, was traded. Even so, this will still be a young Spurs team that will want to get out and run, and anything that will force the defense to allow them to do so should be to their benefit.

The other major (but unsurprising) vote was to make the Play-In Tournament a permanent part of the NBA playoffs race. Originally created in 2020 to help curb some of the fairness that was lost due to teams finishing the Bubble with an uneven number of games played, it was then implemented on a one-year basis for the next to two seasons to heighten the intensity of the playoff race and try to curb tanking.

It worked to an extent, with the Spurs making the tournament the last two seasons and being a prime example of a team that would have been out of the playoff race sooner in the season but kept fighting to try and make the postseason. It’s tough to say if they will make the play-in this season, but if nothing else it makes for some more interesting standings watching.

Finally, the BOG voted to begin recognition payments for former ABA players Former in a program funded jointly by the league and the current players’ union. An estimated 115 surviving players who logged at least three seasons in the ABA but did not qualify for the NBA pension plan will receive $3,828 annually per year of service.