Winderman: Replay officials in NBA — an idea whose time has come

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The comment came during one of those informal pregame chats NBA referees have been conducting with the media over the past month.

“I think that replay is only going to be growing,” the veteran referee said.

He wasn’t commenting on whether it was a good thing or otherwise, but rather that it was an inevitable reality, based on what he had witnessed in the NFL and even during baseball’s ongoing postseason.

This season, the NBA will utilize late-game replay on calls involving the restricted area beneath the basket and goaltending, make replay mandatory for flagrant fouls, and continue to utilize replay on the timing of end-of-period shot release, 24-second violations and out-of-bounds situations.

That’s a lot of time to be huddling at the scorers’ table amid typical late-game mayhem, almost as silly as baseball’s umpires running off the field in midgame to review homerun calls.

The NFL, of course, is ahead of the game, with replay officials already on site, able to assist with business away from the mayhem. The NHL takes it a step further, with all replay issues handled out of their hockey-central office in Toronto.

In the NBA, though? Mayhem at midcourt, where players, coaches, fans can at least attempt to influence the decisions.

As it is, the NBA already has referee evaluators at every game. The support staff and support system already are in place.

And in most years, quality officials are forced to step aside because of the rigors of the game, making for the perfect pool of NBA “video officials.”

Unlike regular referees, such replay officials would not have to deal with the rigors of travel, simply assigned to a single city. While some might be concerned about home-team and hometown bias, as it is, those who monitor shot clocks work a team’s schedule throughout the regular season. At some point, integrity has to win out.

The NBA has proven forward-thinking with its increased use of replay. Even during the regular season, there are enough important calls to warrant the use of such technology, as well as prepare the systems for the playoffs.

The last thing a referee after 46 minutes of action on his feet needs is to stare into a small monitor courtside and begin requesting replay angles. Such work could be accomplished far more efficiently in a television truck, where multiple monitors are available.

A ruling could be rendered. An announcement could be made. And the referees on the court would be spared direct derision over the final verdict.

Upon further review, the NFL and NHL have decided that an extra pair of eyes makes sense on the game’s biggest calls. The NBA would be wise to follow suit.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

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The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.

 

Vintage Kobe: Redeem Team recalls him running over Pau Gasol

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If the goal of a trailer is to get you to want to see the movie, then well done Netflix. I’m in.

Netflix released a trailer for its upcoming Redeem Team documentary on the 2008 Olympics, featuring some vintage Kobe Bryant. Just as a quick refresher, in 2008 the USA’s toughest opponent would be a deep Spanish team led by peak Pau Gasol but also with Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Juan Carlos Navarro and more. This was a legitimately dangerous team and one the USA would face first in group play.

Kobe wanted to set a tone — and did by running through his friend Gasol. (Warning: There is NSFW language in the video clip below.)

“‘First play of the game I’m running through Pau Gasol.’ And we was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘First play of the game, I know what they’re gonna run.’ And he knew Pau was gonna be the last screen and he said ‘I’m running through him,'” Dwayne Wade said

Spoiler alert: The USA thrashed Spain in group stage play. However, come the Gold Medal game it was a lot tougher for the Americans to beat the Spaniards, with Kobe having to have a big fourth quarter and — what often goes unremembered — a master class from Chris Paul in game management to control the tempo and flow.

I’m all in for the documentary, which drops on Oct. 7 on Netflix.

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson to miss start of training camp with shoulder injury

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Keldon Johnson is poised to have a monster season on a rebuilding Spurs team.

Except he’s going to miss the start of training camp and the team’s preseason games. And could be out longer.

Johnson suffered a “right shoulder posterior dislocation during Spurs open gym” the team announced Saturday. Posterior dislocations are rare (less than 5% of all dislocations) and are usually from a fall on an extended arm. Recovering from the injury depends on many factors but can extend out for months. However, the Spurs said Johnson is expected to be available for the start of the regular season less than a month from now.

Johnson averaged 17 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season, and is an elite perimeter shooter off the catch-and-shoot (39.8% from 3 overall), who also can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (to Dejounte Murray, who is now in Atlanta).

The Spurs will be cautious with bringing Johnson back. Even in what could be Gregg Popovich’s last season as coach the Spurs are looking more to be part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes than push for a playoff spot. Johnson is a quality player who helps San Antonio win games, which both is why they want him back healthy and why they are not going to rush him.

Cavaliers reportedly extend Dean Wade for three years, $18.5 million

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This could be a steal for the Cavaliers — Dean Wade could be the starting three for the Cavaliers by the end of this season and he’s got a genuine upside.

The Cavaliers have extended Wade for three years, $18.5 million, a story where multiple sources were on top of it, including Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Wade’s counting stats aren’t eye-popping — 5.3 points a game and shooting 35.7% from 3 — but he is a quality wing defender who has improved as a floor spacer (sometimes setting picks and popping out). He’s a two-way player who has put in the work and could pass Isaac Okoro on the depth chart this season.

The Cavaliers have four All-Stars who will undoubtedly be starting for them — Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley up front — and the looming question is at the three. Wade has a chance this season to step into that role.

Which makes extending him at a little over $6 million a season a potential steal for the Cavaliers.