Now, it’s time to bring the system to the NBA itself.
The NBA will implement a coach’s challenge at the upcoming summer leagues and anticipates using the rule during 2019-20 regular season as part of a pilot program, per a memo sent to teams this morning and obtained by ESPN.
Coaches will get one challenge per game, and they will lose it even if the challenge is successful, according to the memo. They can use it to challenge only called fouls, goaltending, basket interference, and plays when the ball is knocked out of bounds, the memo says.
Coaches must have a timeout remaining to use a challenge. The team must call a timeout immediately after the event they would like to challenge, and the coach must “twirl his/her index finger toward the referees” to signal for the challenge, the memo states. If the challenge is successful, the team retains the timeout it used to stop play. If the challenge is unsuccessful, they lose that timeout.
Challenges will create more stoppages (something the NBA was trying to reduce). Challenges will also sometimes fix incorrect calls. I’m not sure whether that will happen enough to justify all the lengthy delays.
But that’s why this is just a pilot program. Considering the upside of getting more calls correct and giving teams (and their fans) more reason to believe they have recourse in officiating, it’s worth trying.
I’m happier about the fastbreak-foul rule. That is a no-brainer that should have already been fixed. Right now, the smart move is fouling to stop high-efficiency fastbreaks. It’s on the league to change the incentive and encourage play to continue in those exciting moments.