By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Brace yourselves, basketball fans. Coach’s challenges are coming to the NBA.
The league’s Board of Governors voted Tuesday to bring coach’s challenges to the NBA on a one-year trail basis next season. Here are the guidelines that the NBA announced:
- Each team is entitled to one challenge in the game (regardless of whether the challenge is successful).
- A team can use its challenge in the following instances: a called personal foul charged to its own team; a called out-of-bounds violation; or a called goaltending or basket interference violation.
— A team can use its challenge on a called personal foul at any point in the game.
— In the last two minutes of the fourth period or the last two minutes of overtime, a called out-of-bounds violation or called goaltending/basket interference violation will not be challengeable and instead will be exclusively triggered by on-court referees.
- To initiate a challenge, a team must immediately call a legal timeout and the head coach must immediately signal for a challenge by twirling his/her finger toward the referees.
- If a team attempts to challenge an event with no remaining timeouts, the team is charged an excessive timeout, for which the penalty is a technical foul, and no challenge will take place.
- If a team calls a timeout to challenge an event that may not be reviewed, the team will be charged a timeout but retain its challenge.
- As with other replay reviews, in order to overturn the event as called on the floor, there must be clear and conclusive visual evidence that the call was incorrect.
There’s some nice balance there. Yes, challenges will likely lead to an extra stoppage or two each night, but at least we get to watch NBA coaches waive their finger at referees. Depending on the call they’re challenging, which finger they choose to waive could change and provide some priceless results. Challenging subjective foul calls could get interesting real quick.
The biggest point is that teams only get one challenge per game regardless if they win the challenge or not. There is no penalty for losing a challenge, but it will cost the timeout that the team had to call to signal the challenge. That lost timeout could prove to be big later in games.
This isn’t something the NBA is just throwing out there. They began testing coach’s challenges during last year’s Las Vegas Summer League and have carried it into this year’s summer slate, and it has been in the G League the past two seasons. Now they’re ready for a trial run in the NBA.
And if you’re worried that these new challenges will slow the game, well, yeah, they probably will. To try to help combat that, the NBA also implemented another change that allows the NBA Replay Center to trigger replays in the first 46 minutes of a game. A new “courtside administrator” will be at each arena’s scoring table to expedite the communication between the NBA Replay Center and the on-court referees, which should help speed up in-game reviews.
There will be bumps along the way as coaches and the league figure out these new challenges. Coaches will have to make their challenge decision pretty quickly, and with just one, they’ll have to weigh challenging a truly egregious call early or saving their challenge for later in the game. And if all of this goes terribly throughout the season, the NBA can always scrap it after the season.
It will likely become what challenges are in every other league, causing more headaches than corrected calls. But if this change brings the imagery of Greg Popovich, Doc Rivers and others twirling their finger at refs, it’s worth a shot.