The NBA wasted no time implementing rule changes, as the Board of Governors approved new regulations introduced during the 2023 Summer Leagues. Starting from the 2023-24 season, the league will introduce an in-game flopping penalty and expand the use of the Coach’s Challenge.
These changes have already been in effect during the NBA 2K24 Summer League, currently taking place at the UNLV campus. They were also utilized in the previous Sacramento and Salt Lake City events. The NBA implemented these changes on a provisional basis for the July exhibitions.
Game officials will enforce The in-game flopping penalty when they perceive a player deliberately trying to draw a foul from an opponent through physical deception. The player responsible will be assessed a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul, which will not count toward an ejection. The rival team will be awarded one free throw, and the coach can choose any player on the court to take the free throw.
Referees can call a “flop” during live play or at the next neutral opportunity. It’s possible for both a foul and a flopping violation to be called on the same play. The rule will be implemented on a trial basis for one year.
Flopping has been a topic of discussion and criticism for years, and this is the first time the NBA has introduced in-game penalties specifically targeting this tactic. The league office has already reviewed questionable plays and issued fines after games. Although post-game fines will still be in place, no additional financial penalties for flops called during games will be imposed. The technical fouls will carry the same $2,000 fine as other technical fouls, with increasing amounts for repeat offenders.
Early instances of the new flopping call involved Lester Quinones of the Golden State Warriors and Jaden Shackelford of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Quinones was penalized for attempting to sell a foul against Jordan Ford of the Sacramento Kings during the California Classic. On the other hand, Shackelford embellished contact from Jake LaRavia of the Memphis Grizzlies, resulting in a penalty during the game in Utah.
The theatrical nature of flopping has garnered critics both inside and outside the NBA. Warriors coach Steve Kerr called for the league to take action against flopping during the playoffs in May, expressing his desire to see it eradicated from the game.
While a flopping violation cannot be directly reviewed through a Coach’s Challenge, a referee can call it if noticed during a review for other actions. Additionally, teams will now have the opportunity to use a second Coach’s Challenge if they are successful with their first one in a game.
Previously, coaches hesitated to use their challenge early in the game, preferring to save it for a critical moment later. However, coaches will no longer be penalized for using their challenge early, allowing them to rectify obvious incorrect calls.
To initiate a challenge, a team must still have a timeout available. It retains its timeout once the challenge is successful. This remains the case for the first challenge, but any subsequent challenges will result in losing a timeout to maintain game length and flow.
The NBA Competition Committee, consisting of players, coaches, executives, owners, and referees, unanimously recommended these new rules for approval by the Board of Governors.