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The NBA is improving the coach’s challenge

Two new rules, plus a few other noteworthy additions are coming to the NBA.

2023 NBA Draft Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

As is the case every offseason, the NBA Board of Governors has voted on a variety of rule changes and issues, and two new rules are coming into affect for the 2023-24 season are an expansion for the Coach’s Challenge and the addition of in-game flopping penalties. We’ll take a look at those, followed by some other changes coming to the NBA.

Coaches Challenge expansion

The Coach’s Challenge was a welcomed addition to the NBA a few years ago. It gave a coach the right to challenge most (but not all) types of calls if they felt it was wrong. It had still its quirks, such as initially out-of-bounds calls couldn’t be challenged in the final two minutes because the refs could already review it on their own. However, in an effort to improve game flow, in 2021 the NBA eliminated referee-initiated replay review for out-of-bounds violations during the last two minutes, thus allowing coaches to challenge out-of-bounds calls in the final two minutes.

Of course, the downside of that was now coaches were reluctant to use their Challenge outside of the last two minutes, and although there’s the old saying that a game-changing play that can’t be overcome never happens before the fourth quarter, they can cause huge momentum swings and change the course of the game, creating “what if’s” after the fact.

As a result, the league finally approved something everyone has been clamoring for: if a coach has a successful challenge at any point in the game, he will be awarded with a second challenge for future use.

Obviously, if that initial challenge is unsuccessful, the coach loses the challenge along with the timeout and will not get a second one. Also, as noted above, the timeout used for the first challenge is still lost even if it is successful, and a the coach much must still have a timeout available to use his second challenge. Overall, this is a welcomed addition to the league and should help eliminate shockingly bad calls earlier the game that could have glaring repercussions later (such as a key player getting into foul trouble early and having to sit on a bad call).

In-game Flopping penalty

The other rule change is the addition of an in-game flopping penalty. It’s pretty straight forward: if the refs decided that a player flopped (i.e. faking or exaggerating marginal contact to dupe the refs into calling foul), they can call a technical on that player, and the other team is rewarded a free throw. Officials can also wait for dead ball to make the call instead of stopping the game for a flop.

One thing to note is that a flopping call cannot be reviewed using the Coach’s Challenge, but a referee could call it if noticed during a review for other actions (for example, if a coach challenges a foul call, and the refs determine the “victim” flopped). Both of these rules have already been tested in Summer League.

In-season tournament

Beyond the rule changes, the NBA has also approved the addition of a Euro-style in-season tournament, where teams will be divided into six intra-conference squads and will complete in regular season games in November for the right to make the “playoffs” of the tournament in December. To learn more about that and where the 2023-24 Spurs are placed, click here.

Awards eligibility

With player management becoming a new norm, the players and Board of Governors approved a rule that will require players to appear in 65 regular-season games to be eligible for NBA awards (MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, etc.) and All-NBA teams. Also, the two guards/two forwards/one center format has been eliminated for All-NBA and All-Defense teams. They are now position-less and will simply be rewarded to the top 15 players regardless of position.

Potential NBA expansion

Last is not something that has been approved yet, but it has been mentioned multiple times by Commissioner Adam Silver this summer: potential NBA expansion. Here is what he had to say on Monday at an interview at the Las Vegas Summer League:

“We will turn to expansion once those new media deals are done. It’s not a sure thing but, as I’ve said before, I think it’s natural that organizations grow over time.”

“We will look at (Vegas). There’s no doubt there’s enormous interest in Seattle. That’s not a secret. There are other markets that have indicated interest. For the people who hear or read about this interview, we are not engaged in that process now. We’re not taking meetings right now with any potential groups. What we’re saying to everyone, privately is the same thing I’m saying publicly that there’ll be a very open process at the time already to consider expansion. But that’s not yet. That’s not yet now.”

As Silver noted, now is not the time to be seriously discussing expansion with potential takers, but the time to watch will be 2025, when the NBA’s current media rights are up.