Someone at just about every level in the league, from players to coaches to famed commentators, have expressed distaste for the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy, which is defined by intentionally fouling a poor free-throw shooting opposing player late in games to both stop the clock, and heighten the possibility that the opposing team comes away with just 1 point (or no points) on a given possession. It’s a perfectly legal strategy, but it’s drawn widespread criticism, especially over the last season, when teams began using it throughout the game, and not just in dire 4th quarter circumstances.

Commissioner Adam Silver has taken note of the issue, and announced last night that there will be rule changes heading into the 2016-2017 season.

Per USA Today, teams will have to start rethinking whether or not they’ll be using the intentional foul caveat all willy-nilly, as the league has expanded a salient rule. Fouls committed away from the play in the final 2 minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime result in the fouled player being awarded a free throw, and his team being allowed to maintain possession of the basketball. That rule has been expanded to the final two minutes of every quarter, which should definitely make coaches think twice before they have players come off the bench for the sole purpose of beating up on the other team’s worst free-throw shooter.

In addition, the blatant, I’m-going-to-jump-on-your-back-and-potentially-injure-you-so-it’s-obvious-I’m-trying-to-send-you-to-the-free-throw-line fouls will now be whistled as flagrant fouls instead of your run-of-the-mill personal foul. That will also force players to be more strategic with how they foul the player they’re trying to intentionally foul, and avoid the occasional frustration altercation.

Here are the rule changes in full detail.

  • “The current rule for away-from-the-play fouls applicable to the last two minutes of the fourth period (and last two minutes of any overtime) – pursuant to which the fouled team is awarded one free throw and retains possession of the ball – will be extended to the last two minutes of each period.”
  • “For inbounds situations, a defensive foul at any point during the game that occurs before the ball is released by the inbounder (including a “legitimate” or “natural” basketball action such as a defender fighting through a screen) will be administered in the same fashion as an away-from-the-play foul committed during the last two minutes of any period (i.e., one free throw and possession of the ball).”
  •  “The flagrant foul rules will be used to protect against any dangerous or excessively hard deliberate fouls.  In particular, it will presumptively be considered a flagrant foul if a player jumps on an opponent’s back to commit a deliberate foul.  Previously, these type of fouls were subject to being called flagrant but were not automatic.”

Somewhere, guys like Dwight Howard, Bismack Biyombo, Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan are smiling.