Max Strus laughs at the conversation, but not the reality.
Because no matter where his Miami Heat journey takes him after being elevated to starter last season, his NBA legacy is now secure.
Just as Bird Rights stand as homage to Larry Bird and the rule designed to entice free agents to remain in place, and just as the Arenas Provision dates to Gilbert Arenas and a salary-cap workaround for restricted free agents, there now is a Strus Rule.
Well, not officially. But perhaps that element only is a matter of time.
Because of the lengthy delay in the time it took for the announcement during Game 7 of last season’s Eastern Conference finals that a successful Strus 3-pointer, upon video review, had been nullified by an out-of-bounds ruling, the NBA this season has changed the way such notifications will be handled.
“Clearly the Max Strus play in Miami highlighted that time that passes between the event and the dead ball,” NBA officiating supervisor Monty McCutchen said during a media seminar.
So now, rather than waiting for the next dead ball or time out, once the NBA Replay Center determines a scoring change is necessary, a blue light will illuminate on the scorers’ table. Play then will be stopped during a “neutral” moment during the action, when neither team has an advantage in a potential scoring situation.
“The announcement will be made, and the ball will immediately be put into play under the conditions that existed before,” McCutchen continued. “We think that will take significant time off the announcement, allowing for the teams to have the best information possible to make the best schematic changes that they would like to, strategy changes that they would like to.”
The irony is that Strus saw it coming (even if he still doesn’t agree with the ruling of his stepping out of bounds).
“My brother did say to me after the game, ‘You’re going to have your own rule named after you,’ ” Strus told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, with the Heat shifting from their Bahamas training camp to work back at FTX Arena. “So I guess there’s that. He spoke that into existence.”
McCutchen said 72 seconds of game action simply was too long to go without knowing the corrected score, after the ruling had already been made at the league’s Secaucus, N.J., offices.
“I thought something was going to be talked about,” Strus said of his after-the-fact surprise when he learned that day of three of his points coming off the scoreboard. “I thought that was such a crucial basket, they were going to have to make a [rules] change.
“So I’m happy they talking about it and discussed it and hopefully this helps people.”
But, no, not happy that he had to serve as the test case, still not convinced there is a definitive replay angle showing him out of bounds in the game when a late 3-point attempt by teammate Jimmy Butler could have been a game winner.
“They’re still reviewing it, huh?” he said with a laugh. “Obviously it sucks the time and the place that this one happened, it’s not fortunate.”
While it might take time for Strus Rule to formally enter the NBA’s vernacular, the league has adapted over the years to several player-inspired changes, among them:
— The Allan Houston Rule. This one allowed teams a one-time amnesty exception to remove a bad contract from their books, an approach that has morphed into the current stretch provision.
— The Charles Barkley Rule. This is when the NBA instituted a five-second rule for backing defenders into the post, as opposed to such extended sequences created by Barkley (and his posterior).
— The Rodman Rule. Cameramen were moved further from the baseline, ostensibly to keep Dennis Rodman from kicking them (and for the landing safety of other players).
— The Mutombo Rule. No more waving a finger (or gesturing toward an opponent) as Dikembe Muitombo did after blocking an opponent’s shot.
— The Trent Tucker Rule. After the Knicks guard was credited with a successful 3-pointer off a play with one-tenth of a second remaining, it was deemed that at least three-tenths of a second must remain for a successful perimeter attempt.
— The Reggie Miller Rule. From what had been a signature Miller move to gain free throws, the league ruled unnatural kicking motions by shooters would be deemed offensive fouls.
— Hack-a-Shaq. From the incessant fouling of Shaquille O’Neal due to his poor foul shooting, rules were instituted to prevent such intentional off-the-ball fouls during the final two minutes.
— The Durant Rule. Players no longer are awarded free throws when ripping the ball through a defender’s outstretched arm just prior to a shot attempt, an approach that had been maximized by Kevin Durant. (An even stricter definition has since come to be known as the Harden Rule, for James Harden’s theatrics in getting to the line.)
IN THE LANE
TOUGH ENOUGH: No sooner did Markieff Morris arrive to camp with the Brooklyn Nets then he let on about what he thought was missing from the Nets while he was with the Heat last season. “They were soft, just point-blank. Period,” said Morris, who took a one-year free-agency deal from Brooklyn at the veteran minimum. “When we played up against them, they were soft. Just go right in their chest. That’s what we did.” Truth be told, there wasn’t much first-hand experience in that regard for Morris, who played in only one game, for 14 minutes, last season against the Nets, as he battled back from the neck injury sustained in his run-in with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. Morris said he hopes his words resonate. “I’ve been on soft teams before, and people called us soft, and I was a part of the team,” Morris said. “I know I’m not soft, but that’s just what it is sometimes.” Morris somewhat qualified his comments about the 2021-22 Nets, “I don’t think they thought they were soft, but that’s what we thought from the outside.” As for new teammate Kevin Durant initially seeking a trade from the Nets before that was patched up, Morris said, “That’s the NBA. You break up with a girlfriend, you get back with her. . . . I broke up with my wife a couple times; we still married.”
TUCKER’S IMPACT: To the Philadelphia 76ers, P.J. Tucker showed up as advertised after his free-agency defection from the Heat. “You can see certain guys like P.J. stand out, especially defensively,” coach Doc Rivers said during 76ers camp. “When he’s on the floor, when he’s off the floor, it is night and day.” Rivers added, “He’s smart, and he’s played for coaches that I’ve been under. He’s been in the Miami system. I’m a [Pat] Riley disciple in a lot of ways.” While the Heat also offered Tucker a three–year deal, it was not as lucrative as the one offered by the 76ers. “You have other teams that were interested,” Tucker said, “and somebody has to jump out there a little bit more to make it happen, and they did.” Tucker, 37, revealed on the eve of camp that he had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee in the offseason. “It made sense time-wise to go ahead and get it knocked out,” he said. “It’s been six weeks. I’m fully cleared and back on the court and doing everything. So, I’m excited.”
SOLID ATTITUDE: Last seen in the playoffs in the 2020 NBA Finals with the Heat, Kelly Olynyk has endured his share of losing since, during his time with the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons. Now more figures to be the case with his trade to the lottery-lusting Utah Jazz. But, to his credit, the spirit remains strong from the versatile 31-year-old big man. “I think they have a great direction and plan in place in where they want to get to and want to go and how to get there. I believe in them,” Olynyk said of his faith in Jazz CEO Danny Ainge, who drafted him out of Gonzaga for the Boston Celtics in 2013. “It’s crazy, because when I got drafted by Boston, we were almost in the exact same situation with Danny that they’re in here right now. You have some older guys with experience, you have some young guys, you got a bunch of draft picks coming in for the next few years.” Olynyk noted how he broke in with the Celtics under first-year coach Brad Stevens, and is arriving to Utah to work under Jazz first-year coach Will Hardy.
NEXT STEP: Acquired from the Heat in the 2021 offseason transaction that sent Kyle Lowry to the Heat, Precious Achiuwa is finding the ante raised with the Toronto Raptors. “His biggest goal would be to play more consistently above average night in and night out,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of the No. 20 pick in the 2020 NBA draft. “I think that none of us should ever expect somebody to have a good game every night; it’s not the way it works. But the average-to-above-average games need to increase from two out of five to three out of five to four out of six. That’s what to me is going to show us our growth and progress. And I would imagine he’ll have some games where we’re like, ‘Wowee, how did he get 25 tonight?’ and then he’ll probably have a few games where we’re wondering where he was.”
4. Teams for former Heat forward Moe Harkless since the end of last season. Dealt by the Heat to the Sacramento Kings in March 2021 for Nemanja Bjelica, Harkless was dealt by the Kings to the Atlanta Hawks in July, then dealt Tuesday by the Hawks to the Oklahoma City Thunder and then on Thursday dealt by the Thunder to the Houston Rockets. Harkless next could wind up with a buyout, making possible joining a fifth team since July.