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New NBA rules against James Harden, Trae Young foul-baiting tactics, revealed

James Harden, Trae Young, Adam Silver, NBA

It has long been rumored by many insiders that the National Basketball Association is making an effort to curb foul-baiting. Now, in a welcome news for basketball fans, the NBA has officially announced their plans regarding this tactic.

In a Zoom call with reporters, NBA senior vice president and head of referee development and training Monty McCutchen said that foul-baiting will be a major point of concern for referees in 2021 – 22. (via ESPN)

“We want basketball to be played, not manipulated.”

“NBA referees are no longer in the business of what would have happened,” McCutchen said, adding that the goal is to determine whether there is an ‘overt, abrupt or abnormal motion’ when the offensive player starts to create contact with the defender.

Drawing fouls isn’t exactly a new thing in basketball. Plenty of players have done it already before. But today’s NBA stars have learned to abuse the rules to draw egregious fouls. James Harden, Trae Young, and Luka Doncic are among some of the stars that have a notorious reputation for repeatedly trying to draw fouls. With these planned changes in interpretation, the likelihood of them getting weird foul calls will decrease.

The key point here is that the changes are in the interpretation of the NBA rulebook, not a rule addition or change. Pump-faking a three-point shot to draw a foul is still possible next season. However, the shooter has to be in a “natural” shooting motion to draw the foul. Any unnecessary motion will result in a no-call or even an offensive foul. Their goal is to reduce the times that players like James Harden or Trae Young jump into defenders to get contact by not giving free throws when they do it.

To put it simply, in McCutchen’s words:

“We don’t want to disincentivize free throws,” McCutchen said. “We want to disincentivize abnormal moves whose sole purpose is to get free throws.”