Is Hack-a-Howard on the way out?
The Hack-a-Howard strategy might get hacked.
At the very least, the NBA realizes that the lack of a strong intentional-foul rule tends to dim the viewing experience.
“It slows the game down,” said Joel Litvin, NBA president of basketball operations. “This is a rule that does apply in the last two minutes of the game, so why shouldn’t it apply for the first 46?”
Translation: Intentional fouling is bad for business.
Dwight Howard has often been a target of other teams trying to drain points from the Lakers. Opponents often fouled him on purpose during the regular season, mindful of his 49.2% free-throw accuracy.
It hasn’t been a factor in the playoffs for the Lakers, who lost the first two games of the series to San Antonio.
Teams are discouraged from doing it the final two minutes because a player gets two free throws and his team gets the ball out of bounds if he is fouled intentionally.
Getting the rule changed would be up to the NBA’s competition committee, Litvin said. It meets again this summer.
One person, however, doubted the end of Hack-a-Howard.
“They’ve been doing it for a while. I don’t think they’re going to stop,” Howard said. “It’s a strategy. Teams are going to use it. I can’t control that. They’re going to continue to do it so I might as well make the free throws.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern seemed to agree with Howard. It required more practice, not rewriting a rule.
“The reality is where you are in your career arc, it’s easy, you should just shoot foul shots better,” he said, declining to specifically voice his opinion of the actual rule.
Litvin and Stern were speaking at a sports editors conference in New York.
Coaching contract math
The Lakers will receive 20% to 50% of the money they owe former coach Mike Brown, a person familiar with the situation said.
They owe Brown about $7 million over the next two seasons but could recoup anywhere from $1.5 million to $3.5 million because he accepted a job to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers with a reported five-year, $20-million contract.
The Lakers won’t know exactly how much they get back until they see final contract figures next month.
Brown was fired by the Lakers after a 1-4 start this season. He was replaced by Mike D’Antoni, who has two more guaranteed years for about $8 million on his contract.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said D’Antoni would return next season in a recent interview with The Times.
D’Antoni, 61, went 40-32 in the regular season after taking over as the Lakers’ coach.
Times staff writer John Cherwa contributed to this report.
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