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NBA eliminates some annoyances

The new CBA has some nice little surprise Christmas presents for NBA fans.

Ric Bucher reports on an end to some of the sport's most manipulative plays:

"Rip-through" moves, in which an offensive player swings the ball into a defender's outstretched arm and then attempts a shot once he has created contact, will be considered non-shooting fouls if the contact begins before the offensive player starts his shooting motion.

Also, on drives to the basket, a shooting foul will be called only if contact occurs after the offensive player has begun his shooting motion, not after he has initiated his leap toward the basket.

This change will spare fans the indecency of slow-motion replays designed to trick defenders into cheap free throws. Presumably elite NBA scorers like Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Manu Ginobili -- who were smart enough to master these tricks -- will quickly adjust.

My favorite chance, as a fan, is also from Bucher's article. And it is this: timeouts will end promptly. Bucher writes: "Two horns will be sounded 15 seconds apart after every timeout. Teams whose players are not moving toward the court as soon as the second horn sounds will receive a delay-of-game warning."

That is amazing. What would be even more amazing is if that first horn sounds after the amount of seconds the rulebook designates a timeout should last, as opposed to when the TV commercials are over.

Larry Coon and Marc Stein report on a number of other new changes. One of them will prevent bad teams from handing out more bad contracts in the name of competitive balance: "The sides agreed Nov. 26 to increase the minimum team salary from 75 percent of the cap to 85 percent in 2011-12 and 2012-13 and 90 percent thereafter. In Hunter's Wednesday memo to the players, minimum team salary drops to 80 percent, giving teams more time to transition to the higher salary requirements."

In other words, teams like the Nets, Grizzlies, Pacers and Nuggets just had several million dollars knocked off the amount of money they will be forced to spend imminently. That probably helps them make smarter long-term decisions.

And finally, a while ago I wrote that the union wanted to curtail the disciplinary powers of David Stern.

A common reaction to that post was along the lines of "good luck with that."

But Coon and Stein write that now "any discipline from NBA commissioner David Stern for on-court misconduct is now subject to neutral review."

Whatever "neutral review" means exactly, it's a new feeling to have somebody looking over the commissioner's shoulder for once, isn't it?