While the zero-tolerance policy has gotten a lot of attention, NBA refs have also begun a crackdown on traveling. As is the case with technical fouls, the NBA hasn't changed the rules - they've just made it a policy to enforce the ones they already have. A novel approach.
The funny thing is, the gap between the written rule and the play on the court is still significant.
True, prior to this year, there was almost no way to be called for traveling in the NBA, short of picking up your dribble at mid court and taking 8 steps to the rim. But the NBA very clearly targeted a couple of situations in which the players have gotten sloppier and sloppier over the years, while ignoring others.
The crackdown seems to focus on two things: carrying the ball and the jab-step-two-step on the wings. In Sunday's Clippers-Magic game, poor Grant Hill, who played many years against Michael Jordan and was once the Next Jordan for FSM's sake, was called twice for carries that couldn't carry Jordan's carries' books. I'd still like to see more consistency on both of these calls, but overall, the policy to enforce the rule as written is a welcome change.
However, the footwork after receiving a pass remains atrocious, and the refs, for the most part, continue to not care. Point guards will take a pass in the backcourt, look to the coach for instructions while taking 4 steps, and then start to dribble, with nary a whistle. Or my personal favorite, the three point threat who receives a pass with both feet in front of the arc, and somehow ends up with both feet behind the arc, without wasting his dribble. A clever maneuver, though not actually within the rules.
The amazing-moving-pivot-foot remains a problem as well. I realize it was at the end of a blow out, and the refs probably just wanted the game to end, but Paul Davis' lovely up and under move in the last minute against Orlando would have been even lovelier had it been even close to legal.
However, Dick Bavetta appeared to be on a one-ref mission against some of the on-going malfeasance on Sunday. He let Davis' pivot foot slide (as it were) but he did call three separate walks on players (Livingston, Ariza and Arroyo) who took steps after receiving a pass. I watch a LOT of basketball and I have a peeve about traveling, and these were literally the first three times I've seen this type of walk called this year.