N.B.A. Decides to Stand Pat on Free Agency and Free Throws


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DeAndre Jordan in April. He provided examples of two main issues on which the N.B.A. had considered making changes.

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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — DeAndre Jordan drew a disproportionate share of the spotlight this week during meetings here for the N.B.A.’s competition committee and the league’s Board of Governors.

Jordan, the imposing center for the Los Angeles Clippers, was a hot topic because of two separate issues: his inability to make free throws and his recent struggles choosing between the Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent.

For now, though, opposing teams will be free to continue to foul Jordan in late-game situations without additional penalty, and no changes appear to be coming regarding the way the league conducts free agency, even though that inaction could open the door for more players to flip-flop between suitors.

“The moratorium was discussed, and nobody had a great idea, frankly, in terms of how to change it,” Commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday in a news conference after the Board of Governors met at the Wynn Las Vegas. “From a personal standpoint, it was not a great look. It’s not what we want to see happen in the moratorium period.”

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Adam Silver said the competition committee had recommended that the league seed teams for the playoffs in each conference based purely on their regular-season records.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

The moratorium — a buzzword in recent days — is the period at the start of free agency during which teams can negotiate with players but cannot enter into binding contracts. It ran from July 1 to July 8 this season, and it was during that time that Jordan agreed to join the Mavericks and then, days later, changed his mind, opting to re-sign with the Clippers.

His waffling left the Mavericks in a bind. Dallas could have been pursuing other free agents, but team officials thought they had a commitment from Jordan.

The moratorium may be imperfect — Silver conceded as much — but most around the league consider it valuable because it prevents a mad rush for contracts. Free agents can meet with multiple teams and weigh their options. Players generally honor their oral commitments. Jordan was an exception.

“It may be that we do need to take a fresh look and shorten it for a few days,” Silver said. “But nobody, at least from the owners’ standpoint, came up with a better solution about how to deal with free agency.”

As for the small matter of free throws — and the increasingly popular tactic of intentionally sending poor free-throw shooters like Jordan to the line — Silver said no changes to the current rules were imminent. The competition committee and the owners discussed the issue.

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“It came out status quo,” Silver said, adding, “There is a sense, especially among the basketball people, that it would be sending the wrong message to the larger basketball community, particularly to youth basketball, to de-emphasize the need for guys to hit free throws.”

One rule modification is on the horizon. Silver said the competition committee had recommended that the league seed teams for the playoffs in each conference based purely on their regular-season records. Under the current format, each division champion is guaranteed a top-four seed.

Silver said a vote among the owners would be held before the start of the season. He expects it to pass.

Silver also addressed the influx of new television revenue, which will drastically raise the salary cap in the coming seasons. But he cautioned that many teams were still not profitable.

“I don’t know the precise number and don’t want to get into it,” he said, “but a significant number of teams are continuing to lose money, and they continue to lose money because their expenses exceed their revenue.”

The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union includes an opt-out clause for either side after the 2016-17 season.

“It’s clear the goal on both sides is to avoid any sort of work stoppage whatsoever and maybe even to avoid the opt-out,” Silver said.



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