Previously, and for what seems like the last 25 years, rules changes were the exclusive domain of the league’s general managers. Owners and coaches were not a part of the process. Unless the GMs wanted to make a change, it never got to a vote.
But in recent years, that system had not been working for Stern. So he ordered the change.
This was a commissioner-driven production, even though the league made it a point to announce that its owners called for the change. According to ownership sources, they did, but only after Stern first went to them and told them he wanted a new, smaller committee that would implement the changes he is seeking before he retires. He has told friends he’s probably going to step down after two more seasons.
The new committee was hand-picked by Stern and consists of two owners, four GMs and three coaches. When they come up with rules changes, those will go directly to the 30 owners for their consideration and vote.
The members are: owners Dan Gilbert (Cleveland) and Joe Lacob (Golden State); GMs Bryan Colangelo (Toronto)
, Mitch Kupchak (Lakers), Kevin O’Connor (Utah) and Sam Presti (Oklahoma City); and coaches Rick Carlisle (Dallas), Lionel Hollins (Memphis) and Doc Rivers (Boston).
“Stern is looking for more control,” said a source. “He hasn’t been able to get some things done because he’s had to deal with 30 general managers and he can’t control them. But now he has his people on the committee.”
Stern’s new committee is expected to work on two major rules changes right away: Adopting the international rule for goaltending, meaning that balls could be legally knocked off the rim or backboard that now would result in a basket; and penalizing “floppers.”
Stern has talked to GMs in the past about changing the goaltending rule, but never got anywhere. But now he’ll have a more receptive group to consider what would be a dramatic change in the defensive rules.
As for flopping, Stern recently came out strongly against the tactic, after the league fined Indiana coach Frank Vogel $15,000 for saying before the Miami-Indiana series that the Heat is the “biggest flopping team in the NBA.”