NBA expands opening night rosters, retains coaches’ challenges

From the Associated Press:

The NBA coach’s challenge is back, and here to stay.

Following the recommendation from the league’s competition committee, the NBA’s board of governors voted Thursday to keep the challenge as an option for coaches going forward. It was introduced last year on a one-year trial.

Coaches challenged 700 calls last season, including the playoffs. Calls were overturned 308 times, or a rate of 44%.

Also approved by the board of governors Thursday: a plan to give teams the ability to expand their active roster on game nights from 13 to 15 for this season — a move being made largely in response to the coronavirus pandemic and in anticipation of the likelihood that teams will be missing players from time to time.

“There will be people that get the virus. It’s going to happen and we have to adjust,” Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said a few hours before the board of governors convened Thursday. “And when it happens, no one’s going to know how … no one’s going to understand how it happened. But we have to be able to have an adjustment, to understand that things are going to happen. We have to adjust, to go on and figure it out.”

Plus, the trade deadline is finally set for this season: It’ll be March 25, or about two weeks into the “second half” of the schedule. The schedule is known through March 4, with the remainder to be determined in the coming weeks.

The NBA tweaked two parts of the challenge rule from last season. Teams can no longer challenge the preceding call if they incur a delay of game violation before asking for the review, and — in situations where officials meet to determine what call to make — the time window that a team has to challenge that call now will not begin until the team gets the final ruling on the play from those referees.

And just because the rule is staying doesn’t mean it can’t be further tweaked in the future. The league has acknowledged in the past that it is on a bit of a tightrope between wanting to shorten games, not interrupting the pace of a game and wanting to get as many calls as possible correct.

The challenge option wasn’t the most popular addition in the league last season. Teams must have a timeout remaining to use their challenge, they are limited to one challenge per game regardless of the outcome of the reviewed call and retain the timeout only if they win the challenge.

“I’m generally not a fan of replay,” said New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy, who was a television analyst last season. “I think I’ve made that pretty clear. And so, as a result, I’m not really a big fan of the rule. … We have a strategy. I had my assistant coaches do some research on it and I think we have a pretty good idea of when we’ll use it and when we won’t.”

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