D-League makes it official: League will allow coach’s challenge among other rules experiments

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The D-League, on top of being a minor league for the NBA (one which will by the end of Wednesday already have two call ups this season) but it is a laboratory of NBA experimentation. Whenever the league wants to see how a new rule might work in practice, they try it out in the D-League.

That means this year D-League coaches will get a challenge flag (well, the right to challenge a call). That’s one of a few interesting rule changes for this season the D-League announced Wednesday.

The coach’s challenge idea is one we knew was coming, but the league detailed how it would work:

The coach’s challenge enables NBA D-League coaches to initiate instant replay review of referee calls of personal or shooting fouls, including offensive fouls, as well as those plays that have been identified as triggers for instant replay. Violations such as traveling and palming may not be challenged, nor can continuations or act-of-shooting determinations.

To initiate a challenge, a coach must call a timeout and immediately signal to the referees that a play is being challenged. The referees will then review the event in question and determine whether to uphold or change the original call. The challenging team will retain its timeout if the challenge is successful and will lose its timeout if it is unsuccessful. Teams will be granted one challenge during regulation and another challenge in each overtime period.

I like it. First off, if you can’t challenge shooting calls, what’s the point? That’s almost always where the disagreement is in the first place. Secondly, if you are successful with your challenge you get to keep it for another try — this is as it should be.

We’ll see how this goes in terms of lengthening games and other concerns, but I want to see this tried out.

Other rule changes coming to the D-League this year:

• The “advance” rule — once in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, a team can advance the ball for a half-court throw-in (after a made basket or the ball going out-of-bounds off the opponent) without having to call a time out. Teams can also substitute in this window. Right now coaches save a couple of time outs to use in the final minutes of a game so they can advance the ball and get the players they want on the court, often the coaches draw up a play in there. Now once per game they don’t have to call a timeout (and slow the game down) to do it.

• The “away from the ball foul” rule, which is designed to thwart the “hack-a-whoever” strategy. Right now players such as the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Rockets’ Dwight Howard (among others) may just get fouled and sent to the line because they struggle to knock down the two free throws. Under the new rule the coach of the fouled team can send any player on the court to the line for one of those free throws. That essentially makes it highly likely one of the shots gets made, which makes employing the “hack” strategy far less attractive.