NBA changes timeout rules to improve game flow

The NBA announced rules changes regarding timeouts aimed at improving game flow.

The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved Wednesday the changes to reduce the number of timeouts from 18 to 14. In the last three minutes of a game, teams will be limited to two team timeouts each rather than the previous three.

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

The league also announced the following timeout rule changes:

Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg talks to the team during Game 3 against the Boston Celtics in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Chicago, Friday, April 21, 2017. (Brian Hill/AP

• Each team will have seven timeouts each game, with no restrictions per half.
• All team timeouts will be 75 seconds. Previously, full timeouts were 90 seconds and “20-second” timeouts were 60 seconds.
• 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 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, which is reduced from three.

The NBA also made the following changes regarding game flow:

• Referees will call a delay-of-game violation if a free-throw shooter ventures beyond the three-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 Board of Governors also moved the trade deadline from the Thursday after the NBA All-Star Game to the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game. They hope that teams will be able to settle their rosters before the  break and avoid the disruptions following the All-Star break.