NBA Approves Changes to Traveling Rule Violations, Starting Lineup Protocol

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2019

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 11:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets dribbles the ball up the court in the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at Toyota Center on February 11, 2019 in Houston, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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The NBA Board of Governors approved a number of rule changes on Friday, with tampering and travels among the main focuses.

The league has added new guidelines in regards to how teams handle free agency, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:

Tampering has become a topic of conversation in recent years as free agency has become quite the spectacle. Some players, such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, seemingly had free-agent deals with new clubs in place before the June 30 moratorium period began this offseason.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported on Sept. 14 that the NBA proposed fines up to $6 million for entering into unauthorized agreements and up to $10 million for tampering. 

Wojnarowski and ESPN colleague Zach Lowe noted on Thursday that some inside of basketball circles believed the league was "rushing the process" of adding new rules.

The league has also added new language in effort to clarify what constitutes as a travel, as detailed by Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

The new rules differentiate how traveling will be called based on when the ball-handler successfully gathers the basketball: 

  • A player who gathers the ball while progressing may (a) take two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball or (b) if he has not yet dribbled, one step prior to releasing the ball to start his dribble.
  • A player who gathers the ball while dribbling may take two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball.
  • The first step occurs when a foot, or both feet, touch the floor after the player gathers the ball.

The league also clearly defined what constitutes as a "gather" in the update.

NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell explained the reasoning behind the revisions, via the official release:

"One of the most misunderstood rules in our game is how traveling is interpreted and appropriately called. Revising the language of certain areas of the rule is part of our three-pronged approach to address the uncertainty around traveling. This approach also includes an enforcement plan to make traveling a point of emphasis for our officiating staff, along with an aggressive education plan to increase understanding of the rule by players, coaches, media and fans."

Meanwhile, teams will now be required to submit starting lineups a half-hour before tip-off:

Per the official release, the change to the pregame protocol is being made "to increase transparency for teams, media and fans."

The league's competition committee unanimously recommended both rule changes.

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