Players and coaches around the NBA have been calling for additional space to be cleared on the baseline for years to help improve player safety.
Now according to a new memo obtained by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press those wishes will become a reality next season:
The NBA is expanding the area that must be clear behind the basket and cutting the number of photographers along the baseline in an effort to improve player safety. The new regulations, calling for an extra foot of open space on both sides of the basket stanchion, were sent to teams Tuesday by league president of operations Rod Thorn in a memo that was obtained by The Associated Press.
The changes come in the wake of a gruesome leg injury suffered by Indiana Pacers’ star Paul George while landing on a basket stanchion during a Team USA scrimmage in Las Vegas last month.
Although George was not trying to avoid photographers on the baseline during that incident, his spill highlighted the need for the NBA to create more room for players to maneuver under the basket. The league will be creating that additional room via multiple methods, according to the league memo:
The “escape lanes,” the unoccupied area on either side of the stanchion to the closest photographer spot, will increase from 3 to 4 feet. Only 20 camera positions, 10 on each baseline, will remain, down from 24 last season and 40 during the 2010-11 regular season. Each baseline can have six photo spots on one side of the basket and four on the other, and dance teams or other entertainers cannot be stationed along the baseline
One player likely to be excited about the change? Celtics’ big man Kelly Olynyk, who ran into a bit of an issue on the baseline during a game for Team Canada last month.