Phil Jackson's ideas to improve the NBA: 4-point line, longer shot clock

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson has some ideas for the NBA. In an interview with Charley Rosen for Today's Fastbreak, he suggested a couple of rule changes that suggest he is more progressive than some might think:

"Why not have a four-point line about 35 feet out? It wouldn't be long before players will get reasonably comfortable shooting from out there. And having a four-point line would certainly serve to enable teams to catch up in what are now blowout games."

In addition, Jackson supports adding six seconds to the shot clock: "This would give offenses more time to get low-post players involved, make defenses work harder, and encourage more passing and player movement."


This is not the first time Jackson has mentioned a 4-point shot -- he said he'd endorse it in an interview with the New York Times' Harvey Araton in February 2015. When he said that, it sounded funny because he has been critical of the way the league has embraced 3-pointers at the expense of the midrange game and post play. That perceived imbalance, though, might be precisely why Jackson is suggesting these tweaks.

Phil Jackson and Bill Bradley
The game is different than when Phil Jackson and Bill Bradley played. USATSI

Two thoughts:

  • If teams station shooters even farther away from the basket because of a 4-point line, then defenses will be stretched out even more. This opens things up for big men to post up one-on-one without help defenders disrupting them as easily. In a way, making outside shooting more valuable also could make isolation scoring and low-post skills more valuable.
  • The longer shot clock would make posting up much more viable. Teams have stopped feeding big men not just because they lack the polish to score inside, but because it's difficult just to get the ball down there and give them time to make plays without forcing anything. Adding six seconds would not get rid of the incentive to push the ball and score before the defense is set, but it would also give teams the option to play methodically and make the other team defend for a full, long shot clock.

Neither of these changes will likely be implemented anytime soon, but there is logic to them. In the past couple of decades, the NBA has put a premium on skill, ball movement and player movement. Jackson is encouraging the league to take that even farther and make defense even more difficult.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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