Challenging the System


NBA to Experiment with Coach’s Challenge at Summer League

Changes could be coming to the way the NBA reviews controversial calls.

The NBA is planning to experiment with a coach’s challenge system on referee’s calls during the upcoming Las Vegas Summer League.

NBA executive VP of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe announced the innovation Sunday on Sirius XM NBA Radio.

“The competition committee has been trying to figure out how we actually do this, because there’s some complications. It’s not quite as simple as you might imagine. We’ve had it in the G League for a number of years now and it’s been very effective. We’re going to try it in a very limited form in Summer League and we’re going to see how it goes. We’re going to let everybody look at it.”

Contrary to previous reports, a flag will not be involved in the challenge system.

The fact that this method would be used in the summer league should not be taken lightly. The NBA has often used summer league and the G League to test out rule changes, including adjusting goaltending rules and expanding officiating crews.

If introduced, the challenge system would be the latest increase in the NBA’s use of instant replay over the past number of years. While improved accuracy of calls is a positive, some say that more reviewing slows the game down.

There is also the issue of games possibly being decided by video review. Game 1 of this year’s Finals, where a late Kevin Durant charging call was changed to a Lebron James blocking foul, is a notable example.

Regardless of the testing’s success, VanDeWeghe said the NBA would not adopt the challenge system by next season.

“We are very careful in how we implement things,” he said. ” … We would look at it for a year, in the G League as well, and see what happens. A lot of things that we’re always trying to innovate, we’re always trying to improve the game. We’re always looking at new things. Summer League is a great time to do that. G League is a great place to do that.”

At least one head coach is in favour of the idea.

“I like it,” said Dallas’ Rick Carlise, the president of the NBA Coaches Association. “For me, it’s not so much about the power of having a challenge, it’s really another layer of protection if a call is missed. Officials aren’t perfect. They’re men, not machines. If there’s any kind of trigger or something that we can add into the game that’s simple and effective and can potentially prevent us from the big bang, the call that’s really the one that’s a destructive thing, then I’m all in favor of it.”


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