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NBA governors approve in-game flopping penalty, expand coach's challenge

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The NBA Board of Governors approved an in-game flopping penalty and expanded use of the coach’s challenge, the league announced today.

Both rule changes will be implemented beginning with the 2023-24 NBA season. Here are more details about each rule change:

In-Game Flopping Penalty

Under the new rule, when a game official calls a flop – or a physical act that reasonably appears to be intended to cause the officials to call a foul on another player – the offending player will be charged with a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul and the opposing team will be awarded one free throw attempt, which could be attempted by any player who is in the game when the technical foul is assessed.  A player will not be ejected from a game based on flopping violations. 

Referees will not be required to stop live play to call a flopping violation.  If necessary (for example, to avoid stopping live play while the offensive team has an immediate scoring opportunity), the officials will wait until the next neutral opportunity to stop live play to administer the flopping penalty.  After the penalty free throw, the league’s resumption of play principles will apply, meaning that the team with actual or imminent possession when play was stopped will be awarded possession when play resumes.   

It is possible that the officials could call both a foul and a flopping violation on the same play.    

A flopping violation will not be directly reviewable by a Coach’s Challenge.  However, the referees could call a flop via replay review of a called foul triggered by a Coach’s Challenge or referee-initiated replay review of certain types of called fouls (such as a potential flagrant foul, block-charge call, end-of-period foul or clear-path foul).  

The league office’s ability to assess flops after a game will remain in place.  New for the 2023-24 season, the postgame monetary penalty system for flops has been modified to replicate that of technical fouls, with fines starting at $2,000 and increasing incrementally for repeat offenders.

A flopping violation called by the officials in real time will not result in a fine or count toward the postgame financial penalty system.  When a flop is called by the referees, the lone penalty will be the in-game competitive penalty of the opposing team being awarded one free throw attempt.

The new in-game flopping penalty will be in effect on a one-year trial basis.

Expanded Use of Coach’s Challenge

The coach’s challenge has been expanded to award teams a second challenge if their first challenge is successful.

A team must continue to use a timeout to trigger a challenge, which means a team will not be able to use its first or second challenge unless it still has a timeout available. 

In addition, a team will continue to retain the timeout used to initiate its first challenge if the challenge is successful and did not trigger a mandatory timeout.  For game length and game flow reasons, a team will not retain the timeout used to initiate its second challenge even if the challenge is successful. 

The NBA’s Competition Committee – which consists of players, representatives from the National Basketball Players Association, coaches, governors, team basketball executives and referees – unanimously recommended both the in-game flopping penalty and expanded use of the coach’s challenge to the Board of Governors.

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