The NBA wants to speed up the start of games this season, establishing a new 90-second clock from the end of lineup introductions to opening tip. Teams that fail to be ready at that point will be assessed a delay of game penalty. Two delay-of-game warnings would result in a technical foul. Here's more on the new initiative:
Over the years, as the elaborate handshakes and other routines have become extended -- for example, Shaquille O'Neal famously created teamwide skits acted out before Phoenix Suns games three seasons ago -- games have routinely taken five minutes or longer to begin after the starting lineups were announced. The NBA is attempting to speed up the start of games.
Players have been advised of the initiative during the annual meetings with referees in the preseason as part of the league's "points of emphasis."
"There's a 90-second countdown, it is placed on the clock," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said. "At 30 seconds, there's a warning horn and alert by the refs. At the end, teams need to be ready to tip off or face a delay-of-game warning."
The Celtics already got a taste of the new 90-second clock, getting tagged with a delay-of-game warning before tip-off of an exhibition tilt against the Knicks last weekend in Hartford, Conn. While Boston's handshake routine isn't quite as elaborate now as it has been in recent seasons (like when O'Neal was here), the 90-second clock will certainly force Kevin Garnett to hustle a bit more on his goalpost headbutt/chalk toss/chest pound routine.