The NBA is considering tweaking the coaches’ challenge system. Coaches currently get one challenge to use over the course of a contest, regardless of outcome, but the league is thinking about adding a second challenge that could be used if the first one is deemed successful. If a coach’s initial challenge is unsuccessful, they wouldn’t be awarded the second challenge. The potential change will continue to be examined by the league’s competition committee in the coming weeks, and it would ultimately need to be approved by the league’s board of governors.
“We’re absolutely looking at it,” NBA’s president of basketball operations Byron Spruell said during an appearance on ESPN‘s “NBA Today.” “The competition committee over the summer will review it. It’s still a process. We have to get it through a board vote over the summer, test it as well, but we feel like it’s an incremental movement that we would potentially like to see.”
Coaches’ challenge have been in place for four seasons, and they have become an important aspect of the game as they allow coaches to contest a call on the floor — something they never previously had the ability to do. Since coaches currently only have one challenge at their disposal, the typical practice is to wait until later in the game to use it. The addition of a second challenge could alter the way that we commonly see the challenges used.
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, for one, is in favor of the league adding a second challenge. “Yeah. I think it would be good,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t know what the unintended consequences are, but I always feel like if I burn one whenever, early in a game and you win it, it’s like, oh, geez, I would like to have another one.”
Doubling the number of challenges in every game has the potential of creating more breaks in the action, which could result in games taking longer to complete. As way of combating that, as well as just maintaining a better overall product, the league is also investigating ways to further integrate technology into the officiating process in order to assure swiftness and accuracy, specifically on goaltending and out-of-bounds calls in the final two minutes of games.
“We always want to get those calls right, and the timing and accuracy of those are important,” Spruell said. “Those are areas where they’re more objective and technology can take a look at those, and that’d be assisted by the replay center. So some opportunity for technology to be viewed in the replay center, assisted first, and then be able to make those calls to the officials on the court.”
Referees are far from perfect, as we’ve seen time and again, so any avenues that would improve accuracy without disrupting game flow are probably worth pursuing.