Readers' ideas for NBA changes (cont.)
Pick up the pace. Someone who goes by the handle of "KneejerkNBA'' wrote from Portland, Ore., calling for all sorts of changes to put some giddy-up in the league's get-along. "Change the :24 clock to :20,'' he (or she) urged. "Change the free-throw time to :05 [instead of 10 seconds] from the time the player gets the ball from the ref. ... Watching Tim Duncan stare at the rim for a half hour and then brick the shot anyway is pure torture.''
The same reader wants NBA-levied fines against teams that fire their coaches during the season, as well as a minimum-games-played requirement for postseason eligibility, to preempt late-season roster additions. He also touches on the Holy Grail of changes that would improve play in the NBA: shorter regular seasons. That would be terrific -- one home and one road game against each of the other 29 teams for a 58-game schedule -- but neither owners nor players seem ready for a commensurate 29 percent reduction in revenues.
Don't penalize the passer. Edwin of L.A. doesn't think it's fair that a player who sets up his teammate with a nifty pass comes up empty if that man gets fouled, even though the play can put points on the board for the passer's club. He suggests awarding an assist if the teammate makes both free throws, with a half-assist when he makes one of two from the line.
No long goodbyes. Too many timeouts, particularly late in games, is a real and figurative drag. Dave of Winnipeg wants each side restricted to just one -- full or 20-second, doesn't matter -- in the final minute. Dave of Cleveland wants points awarded with each foul in the final minute, though he doesn't say which team should have possession after such plays. He also opens up the refs -- all seven of them, maybe -- to more second-guessing and wrath than they already face.
Oh, Canada! Some readers from the Great White North took exception to a comment I made recently about NBA players who get forgotten about once they're traded to the Toronto Raptors. Other felt I was too harsh in giving the Raptors an "F'' as their midterm grade (though at least two wrote in to accuse me of being too kind). So we'll include a suggestion from Bernard of Toronto that Air Canada Centre serve as the host of All-Star weekend. The people there don't need me to tell the world that Toronto is a world-class city. Toronto is a top-five destination among the current 29 markets. In other words, Alonzo Mourning was wrong, wrong, wrong.
One and done. "How about eliminating the best-of-seven playoff series?'' Thomas of Montreal wondered. "I understand the reasoning in baseball because the pitchers are always different. But in the NBA or in the NHL, the lineups pretty much remain constant.'' He also wants teams that don't finish above .500 to be excluded from any postseason brackets. Just give byes to the top clubs to sort it out, I guess. This would provide a great incentive to the league's powerhouses not to take any nights off against a mediocre challenger in the regular season -- they could, in effect, eliminate them months before the playoffs even begin.
Better not miss. Ben from Orlando doesn't like half-court sluggishness or physical play or constant unwhistled traveling. But what he really abhors is lousy shooting. "If your shooting percentage dips below 40 percent, you have to play in the [D-League] until you get a better shot,'' he wrote. "This could work with other stats as well: too many turnovers, you're moved down until you figure out how to make a bounce pass to the post man. ... It's all about fundamentals.''
At least Ben admitted: "Will never happen.''
Promote and demote. More than one reader wants the NBA tiered, so that the worst of the good teams gets dropped to a "B'' level and the best of the bad teams gets boosted up. Dave of South Bend, Ind., said it could lead to new franchises in Kansas City, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and other NBA-hungry towns. But he acknowledges the problem with that: "It will never happen because owners have waaay too much invested in their teams to risk dropping to the lower league, but a boy can dream!''
Coach Hoodie: Yea or Nay? Jonathan of Houston didn't like my silly suggestion that coaches wear warmup suits rather than Armani wardrobes on the sideline. "No one wants to see a bunch of Belichicks sitting on the bench,'' he wrote. But Cristian of Santiago, Chile, disagreed. "I love baseball where [the manager] looks like an actual player and even gets a numbered uniform.''
Smile when you write that. My point about having players smile when photographed or interviewed was facetious, intended to wring out just a little of the attitude that seems so popular with the marketing folks. But Peter of Philadelphia took me seriously. "Don't be a control freak,'' he wrote. To which I respond: Grrrrrr.
Thanks to all who contributed, and we'll keep an eye out for the very best brainstorms for future inclusion here.
Steve Aschburner covered the Minnesota Timberwolves and the NBA for 13 seasons for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He has served as president or vice president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association since 2005.