NBA to experiment with coach replay challenges in Summer League

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, rear, reacts as he talks to referee Derrick Stafford (9) during the first half of Game 2 of basketball’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Coach’s replay challenges could be coming to the NBA.

Long available to coaches in the NFL and in recent years to managers in MLB, NBA coaches could have the ability to request a replay on a questionable call with a new challenge system in the future, NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VandeWeghe said on Sirius XM Radio Sunday night.

Don’t worry, it won’t make its first appearance in the NBA Finals. VandeWeghe said the Las Vegas Summer League will be the testing grounds for the system. Summer League begins in July

How a coach will ask for a replay has yet to be determined

There was some speculation that, like in the NFL, a flag could be involved when asking for a challenge. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, that won’t be the case. And it’s not the only detail that has yet to be worked out.

From ESPN:

Officials are still working on what mechanism coaches will use to trigger a challenge and what the parameters are, but they will not use a flag, sources said.

VandeWeghe admitted as much during his Sirius interview.

“We’ve wanted to do it for years,” VanDeWeghe said via USA Today. “The competition committee has been trying to figure out how we actually do this, because there’s some complications. It’s not quite as simple as you might imagine.”

Replay is on the rise in the NBA

Anybody who watches the game is aware that replays on tight calls, especially late in games, have increased. The officials also consult replay on fouls that could be deemed flagrant.

The most recent notable replay call came in late in Game 1 of the NBA Finals when a charge called on Kevin Durant was overturned and switched to a blocking foul on LeBron James. Because the officials were not sure if James was in the restricted area after initially making the call, the play was reassessed with replay. From there, it was determined that James was not in the restricted area. However, that replay allowed them to assess whether James was in a legal guarding position. It was determined he was not, so the call was switched to a foul on James.

The next day, the NBA said in its Last Two-Minute officiating review that the correct call was made.

“The crew was not reasonably certain whether James was in the restricted area after an offensive foul was called against Durant,” the report said. “Upon replay review, it was confirmed that James was outside the restricted area. The referees also reviewed whether James was in a legal guarding position, which is an additional reviewable matter for this replay trigger. Replay showed James was not in a legal guarding position.”

G League and Summer League are important for NBA rules experiments

In the NBA G League, coaches are permitted to challenge one call per game, but only on fouls, goaltending/basket interference plays and out-of-bounds calls. VandeWeghe said the implementation of challenges in the G League has been a success.

“We’ve had it in the G League for a number of years now and it’s been very effective,” he said. “We’re going to try it in a very limited form in Summer League and we’re going to see how it goes. We’re going to let everybody look at it.”

Both the G League and Summer League have been used as a means to experimentation for the NBA. For the 2017-18 G League season, a number of experimental rules were used, including a new format for the playoffs, adding an additional referee and a new structure for timeouts, among others. In the past, the NBA even experimented with things like the international goaltending rules in the G League.

Coach challenges in the NBA are unlikely next season

VanDeWehge said the league wants to be careful how quickly it implements a major change like this, so if it comes to fruition, it probably won’t happen next season.

“We would look at it for a year, in the G League as well, and see what happens. A lot of things that we’re always trying to innovate, we’re always trying to improve the game. We’re always looking at new things. Summer League is a great time to do that. G League is a great place to do that.”

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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