The NBA Board of Governors has approved two rule changes for the 2023-24 season. Amid the flurry of free agency rumors, Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news about the rules updates today.
Addressing an oft-debated issue, the NBA will now allow coaches a second challenge to referee rulings if their first challenge is successful. This makes intuitive sense. Coaches were tempted to save their lone challenge even when they knew a call was wrong, just in case a more critical situation arose. The only loophole might be finding ways to “game” the second challenge, using it as a de facto timeout and/or doubling down on same. The risk seems small, since the first challenge would need to be valid for the strategy to work.
Second, the league has added an in-game technical foul penalty for flopping. Charania indicates that this change is happening on a trial basis.
Making good use of this rule will be tricky. The issue has never been penalizing flopping, but detecting it. Proving that something was a flop is difficult, even with slow-motion replay. Raised stakes—the point given via free throw—will put more pressure on officials to make that determination accurately, as the consequence affects the game in progress. That’s not going to make their eyesight better nor the infraction easier to discern. It could lead to increased reliance on replay and huddled debate, neither of which is good for game flow. Add in the fact that nobody will be pleased with the eventual ruling and this may end up being a rule worth rethinking, creating as many issues as it solves.
We’ll see when the 2023-24 season begins in October.
Update: Charania’s tweet says the Board of Governors will vote on the rules changes on July 11th. They’re not done deals yet. Usually, when announced, changes like this do go through, but we’ll not know for sure until July 11th. Apologies for the misread in the free agency rush. The information above should still be valid, with that asterisk attached.