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NBA Trade Deadline and Timeout Rules Change for 2017-18: No More 20-Second Timeouts, Trades Come Sooner

The league wants games to flow better and trades to come sooner.

Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The NBA Trade Deadline and rules governing timeouts and game flow will change in the 2017-18 season. The NBA Board of Governors has instituted these changes primarily to speed up game flow.

The trade deadline will move from the Thursday after the NBA All-Star Game to the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game

Timeouts have been standardized to 75 seconds each, eliminating the traditional “full” and “20-second” timeout structure. Each team will be granted seven timeouts per game without restrictions on use per half, with limits on the numbers used in the fourth period and in the final minutes of the game.

Text of the press release explaining these rules changes follows.


Effective with the 2017-18 season, the maximum number of timeouts per game will decrease from 18 to 14. In addition, during the last three minutes of a game, teams will be limited to two team timeouts each instead of the previous rule that allowed three per team in the last two minutes.

“These changes will help us fulfill our goal of improving game flow and pace of play,” said Byron Spruell, NBA President, 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 rule modifications for timeouts are below:

  • Each team will have seven timeouts per game, with no restrictions per half.
  • All team timeouts will be 75 seconds. In the previous format, “full” timeouts were 90 seconds and “20-second” timeouts were 60 seconds. Both “full” and “20-second” timeouts have been replaced by team timeouts.
  • 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 mandatory 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 (i) the three-minute mark of the fourth period or (ii) the resumption of play after the second mandatory timeout of the fourth period.
  • Each team will have two team timeouts per overtime period; previously teams had three.

The NBA also made the following changes regarding game flow:

  • Referees will assess 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.

In addition, the Board of Governors approved moving the trade deadline from the Thursday after the NBA All-Star Game to the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game. With the new placement of the trade deadline, teams will be able to settle their rosters before the All-Star break and avoid the disruptions that result from players joining new teams just as practices and games are beginning to resume following the All-Star break.

The NBA’s Competition Committee unanimously recommended the rules changes before the Board of Governors’ vote.