Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA will “inevitably” give referees additional options for reviewing replays.
“So far, in terms of all of our triggers, we’ve tried to maintain a line of what is clearly objectively ascertainable,” Silver told a group of Associated Press Sports Editors on Thursday. “You know, foot on the line or not, buzzer or not. My sense is where we’ll end up is giving the referees more discretion over what they can look at once we go to replay.”
Silver’s comments came just hours before Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague appeared to step out of bounds before making a 3-pointer against the Indiana Pacers. The basket counted. While officials could review whether he was behind the arc or not, they could not review whether or not he stepped out of bounds.
In another controversial play, the Golden State Warriors hung on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of their playoffs series after an unreviewable foul call on an out-of-bounds play. All the referees could decide was that the ball last touched Clippers guard Chris Paul so possession was awarded to the Warriors. However, they could not review that Warriors forward Draymond Green appeared to foul Paul before the ball bounced off Paul and went out of bounds.
Silver said it is confusing for viewers to see something obvious on a television replay but officials are handcuffed due to replay rules limits.
“I think the most difficult area now, even for our fans to understand, is when an official can go to replay and everyone can see something that looks like a foul or wasn’t a foul, but yet the official is restricted from being able to apply, in essence, his judgment on the play,” Silver said. “And I think that’s an area that I think inevitably we’re going to reach where an official is going to need to have some more discretion.”
But senior vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe questioned how far back officials can look before the play they are reviewing.
“Those are things that when you start to have subjective calls and you’re looking at a lot of things, and you’re giving more discretion on what to look at, those are the problems and the issues that you try to figure out,” VanDeWeghe said. “But like Adam said, giving the referees a little bit more discretion when there’s something obvious that happens within the context of the foul, you want to get it right.”
The NBA’s competition committee is meeting in July to determine recommendations, which have to be approved by owners.