“…and hopefully you guys in the news will understand that’s not traveling.” That’s how Mike D’Antoni responded to a question after the Rockets first practice of the 2019-2020 NBA season. The question was how he thinks the NBA’s new emphasis on calling traveling will affect James Harden.
Every year the NBA informs all teams which points of emphasis they will be making in the upcoming season. If you remember, freedom of movement and the flow of the game were a priority last season so moving screens and holding off-ball players were called a lot. As with many other rules, the main question is will the refs be persistent enough to make players change or will they stop calling it as much as the season goes along?
This year traveling is being stressed and obviously the first candidate for traveling is James Harden and his step-back three-pointer. Sometimes he just travels – makes 4 or 5 steps and D’Antoni didn’t dispute that happens and will probably be called. But the one where Harden uses the “gather step” – here’s what coach D’Antoni said about that (via ESPN):
“They, which is great, they made a point to tell every head coach that is not traveling. And it’s not traveling. So hopefully coaches will quit complaining and hopefully, you guys in the news will understand that’s not traveling. … His patented move IS NOT A TRAVEL. That’s the way it’s defined in the rulebook, and it isn’t so he can go at it.”
The key is “the way it’s defined in the rulebook”. The rulebook should be amended then because, despite coach D’Antoni appealing to the guys in the news, we will still consider it travel. But, as the amount of traveling in the NBA overall has been annoying us for years, we support the decision to address it and hope they will stick by it.