Will NBA call foul on ‘Hack-a-Shaq?’

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Clippers coach Doc Rivers joked with Houston fans Monday night as he employed the “Hack-a-Shaq” on Houston center Dwight Howard. Usually, it’s the Clippers and DeAndre Jordan that are on the receiving end of the strategy.

The “Hack-a-Shaq,” though, is no laughing matter to the league office that is under fire to change the tactic that allows a team to foul a bad free throw shooter in order to regain possession. It’s making for bad theater in the playoffs, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver knows it.

“If my view was I can’t watch this anymore, I’d be pushing for a change,” Silver told a group of Associated Press Sports Editors last week. “But the reason I’m not is because, on one hand, it’s always been part of the game—making free throws. Tactically in terms of strategy, I find it fascinating. So, I don’t think it’s necessarily terrible television. But in other games, I watch it and I’m like, oh my god! I feel people changing the channel.”

Silver said intentional fouling will be high on the NBA competition committee’s agenda when they meet in June.

Still, the league is facing a dilemma. Do you outlaw the tactic by diminishing one of the most fundamental aspects of the game—the free throw?

“I’ve sat in meetings with some of the greatest players like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird who said that players should learn to make their free throws,” Silver said. “It’s part of the game. At the same time, it doesn’t make for great television, so I’m on the fence right now.”

There are other solutions. Some have suggested the intentional foul could occur only after 10 or 12 seconds have run off the shot clock, thus giving the offense a chance to score before play is stopped.

Cavaliers coach David Blatt has another idea that he brings from his days coaching overseas.

Smart and simple.

Whatever the case, it does seem the NBA will move quickly on this issue, especially if TV ratings and revenue are negatively impacted.

“We’re also an entertainment property that’s competing against a lot of other options that people have for their discretionary time,” Silver said. “Sometimes the issue with coaches and generals managers changes according to who’s on their roster at any given time. Understandably. So, it’s out job to take a longer term view of it. I think, though, it’s one of those issues we will be very engaged in over the next few months.

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