Sports

Thunderclap

NBA to relook star buys in order to maintain a competitive balance in the league

Kevin Durant's decision to thunder out of Oklahoma City for Golden State has brought the warrior out of NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Durant recently left Thunder to sign a two-year deal worth US$54 million ($72m) with the Warriors, creating another NBA powerhouse.

But on Tuesday Silver said the league might look at ways of maintaining competitive balance following the blockbuster move.

Silver expressed concern at the signing, which creates another super team and indicated that the NBA's parity might be better served if changes were made to the collective bargaining agreement.

"Just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that's ideal from the league standpoint," Silver said of lopsided teams during a news conference at the league's annual board of governors meeting.

Silver added that Durant did not break any rules by exercising his right to change teams.

"I don't think having two super teams is good for the league," he said.

PLAYERS' RIGHTS

"For me, part of it is designing a collective bargaining agreement that encourages the distribution of great players throughout the league.

"On the other hand, I absolutely respect a player's right to become a free agent and in this case for Kevin Durant to make a decision that he feels is best for him.

"I have no idea what's in his mind or heart in terms of how he went about making that decision.

"In a way, the good news is that we are in a collective bargaining cycle, so it gives everybody an opportunity - owners and the union - to sit down behind closed doors and take a fresh look at the system and see if there is a better way that we can do it.

"My belief is we can make it better."

The league's current agreement runs through June 30, 2021. Either side can opt out by June 30, 2017, if it notifies the other side by Dec 15. It was negotiated during the lockout five years ago.

Durant averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists a game last season for the Thunder, who came within a game of reaching the NBA Finals before losing to Golden State in the Western Conference finals.

Now Durant, the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player and a four-time league scoring champion, will unite with Stephen Curry, the 2015 and 2016 NBA MVP and this year's top scorer with 30.1 points a game.

On next year's All-Star game, Silver said the league hasn't made a decision on moving it from Charlotte in protest at North Carolina's controversial restroom privacy protection law.

"We're not prepared to make a decision today," Silver said.

"But we recognise the calendar is not our friend. February is quickly approaching, especially in terms of big events like the All-star games if we're going to make alternative plans." - AFP.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they score 200 points next year.

— Joel Embiid of Philadelphia on the Warriors’ single-game scoring potential following the capture of Durant

No more 'Hack-a-Shaq'

The NBA approved rule changes on fouls away from the ball on Tuesday, which could help reduce intentional fouling.

Previously, if a foul occurred away-from-the-play in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, it resulted in one free throw and possession of the ball. That rule has been extended to apply to the last two minutes of all quarters.

Intentionally fouling of poor free-throw shooters has become a frequent strategy of the game, an often-criticised one, and the rule tweak will limit the opportunities for teams to employ that ploy.

Frequently employed against former Lakers centre Shaquille O'Neal, the strategy went on to be known as "Hack-a-Shaq''.

"In looking at the data and numerous potential solutions to combat the large increase in deliberate away-from-the-play foul situations, we believe these steps offer the most measured approach," Kiki VanDeWeghe, NBA executive vice-president, basketball operations, said in a statement.

"The introduction of these new rules is designed to curb the increase in such fouls without eliminating the strategy entirely."

Additionally, on inbound plays, a defensive foul before the ball is thrown in will also be subject to one free throw and possession.

Flagrant foul rules were also adjusted and will now automatically be in effect for any dangerous or excessive deliberate fouls.

Previously, these types of fouls were subject to being called flagrant but were not automatic.

- Reuters.

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