NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has finally chosen a side in the hack-a-Shaq debate, and the rule could be changed as soon as this offseason.
"I'm increasingly of the view that we will be looking to make some sort of change in that rule this summer," Silver told USA Today Sports' Jeff Zillgitt on a podcast.
The number of "hacks" have increased dramatically this season, with NBA coaches exploiting the rules as frequently as possible to force terrible free-throw shooters like Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan to the line. After just 164 such fouls last season, teams may reach 300 hacks by the All-Star break next week, only two-thirds of the way into the season.
"Even for those who had not wanted to make the change, we're being forced to that position just based on these sophisticated coaches understandably using every tactic available to them," Silver told USA Today. "It's just not the way we want to see the game played."
Many coaches who use the strategy have expressed a distaste for the rule, but as long as it's still legal, coaches will continue to exploit it.
The hacking rule may be changed gradually, a league source told USA Today, eliminating loopholes like intentional loose ball fouls that can be committed within the final two minutes when the team using the strategy is shooting free throws.
"As I travel around the league, there's that one school of thought, ‘Guys have got to make their free throws,' " Silver said. "But then at the end of the day, we are an entertainment property, and it's clear that when you're in the arena, that fans are looking at me, shrugging their shoulders with that look saying, ‘Aren't you going to do something about this?' "
An easy fix to the rule would involve giving all non-shooting fouls within the bonus an option of free throws or just inbounding the ball again, as suggested by our own Tom Ziller. Without the player shooting being forced to step to the line, hack-a-Shaq will essentially end. In the USA Today article, other suggestions are mentioned, such as banning the strategy outright or limiting the number of hacking fouls that can be committed per game. Ziller also refutes five of the most common arguments against changing the rule right here.
Regardless of how the NBA chooses to change the rule, it looks like the days of hack-a-Shaq are numbered.