League considers rule change to curb free throws

Associated Press

New York — The NBA is reviewing whether the act of jumping on a player’s back to intentionally foul him should be interpreted as a flagrant foul.

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters Sunday that a memo from the NBA said that act would now be ruled as a flagrant 1 foul. But a league spokesman says there has been no rule change, only that league officials are discussing how the play should be interpreted.

If it became a flagrant 1, the team that was fouled would keep possession after the two free throws.

“Telling a guy he can’t jump on someone’s back is not that big of a rule change,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Sunday.

Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Houston’s Dwight Howard have both been subjected to the act, with players jumping on their backs to send the notoriously poor free throw shooters to the line. They also are frequently fouled intentionally away from the ball, along with the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan.

The NBA is expected to consider making some sort of rule change this summer in an effort to get teams away from using such a ploy.

“We’ll do whatever’s necessary, but I don’t think anybody wants to see a free throw contest,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, who has seen Heat center Hassan Whiteside challenged by the Hack-a-Somebody ploy several times in the last couple seasons. “But if it comes down to it, so be it.”

And on Sunday in the nationally televised Heat-Clippers game in Miami, both Rivers and Spoelstra used the intentional foul trick early.

The Heat fouled Jordan late in the first quarter, and the Clippers’ center missed both. So the Clippers countered a few seconds later, taking Jordan out of the game and replacing him with Cole Aldrich — who immediately wrapped up Whiteside away from the ball. Whiteside made one of his two free throws.

There is some irony with this possible change and its potential effect on the Clippers, in that Jordan is the player perhaps most regularly targeted by the intentional foul move — and it was their own star guard Chris Paul who famously jumped on Howard’s back to commit a foul while trying to give the impression that he was merely jostling the Houston center for a rebound in last year’s playoffs.