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NBA testing challenge system during Las Vegas Summer League

Updated July 5, 2018 - 6:59 pm

Just as a coach would develop offensive concepts and defensive philosophies, Steve Gansey believes strategy is important when it comes to using the coach’s challenge.

He has plenty of experience with it, spending the past three seasons coaching the Fort Wayne (Indiana) G League team.

“I think there is a huge advantage to it,” said Gansey, who is coaching the Indiana Pacers’ Summer League team. “I think the coaches and the officials think it is a great rule to have because they’re just trying to get the correct call, especially down the stretch in the fourth quarter.”

The G League has used a challenge system the past four seasons. Now challenges will be allowed for the first time in the NBA Summer League, which begins at noon Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion.

With all 30 teams competing in the Summer League for the first time, this is the chance to get a true perspective on whether a challenge system could work in the NBA. If there is enough support to make it part of the game, the challenge would need to clear a couple of hurdles before being adopted, a process that wouldn’t play out until at least 2019.

“We just want to be careful,” said Kiki VanDeWeghe, NBA executive vice president of basketball operations. “It’s a fairly long process, but there’s nothing on the horizon right now. We’re just looking at this.”

Challenges will be allowed over the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and throughout overtime. If a coach wants to challenge a call, he calls a timeout and before play resumes, signals he wants to review the play and touches a light at the end of the scorer’s table. If the challenge is successful, the coach receives a second one and keeps the timeout as well.

The NBA replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey, will handle reviews.

Coaches are allowed to challenge eight types of situations that include whether a shot beat the 24-second clock, whether a defender was in the restricted zone on a charge, and whether there was goaltending.

Officials have the sole responsibility of going to replay for other types of decisions, such as end-of-quarter shots and those involving player safety.

VanDeWeghe said restricting challenges to the final two minutes was a better way to maintain proper game flow while also keeping an eye out for player welfare throughout each contest.

“You don’t want to have too many stoppages in the game,” VanDeWeghe said. “The great thing about NBA basketball, and you’ve got to give (commissioner) Adam (Silver) tons of credit on this, is the game really flows.

“We want to balance those two things. But we do want to get the calls right as much as possible, and we want to give the coaches an avenue that if they disagree with something, they can stop the game and they can ask the referees to take a look.”

As an advocate of the challenge system, Gansey would like to have access to it throughout the fourth quarter even if he limits himself to using them in more end-game situations.

“There are things that officials just don’t see,” Gansey said. “They’re human. It’s part of the game, but it’s the officials trying to get the right call.

“It gives you the opportunity to use your voice and say, ‘You guys are wrong.’ Well, here’s my chance to prove it. I’ve been on that other end, where, ‘Steve, no it wasn’t a foul,’ or ‘Steve, it was off you.’”

More NBA Summer League: Follow all of our NBA Summer League coverage online at reviewjournal.com/summerleague and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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