NBA Development League Experimenting With Referee Headsets And Other Innovations

It started with a multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey, and in a continued effort to increase accuracy and consistency on the part of officials, the NBA Development League began beta-testing the use of referee headsets at its annual D-League Showcase in January. The idea is that it would limit the amount of time officials spend conferring about plays and give them a direct link to the replay center to get information in real-time and speed up the decision-making process.

NBA.com’s Scott Howard Cooper spoke to President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn about the possibility of using them in the big leagues:

“Let’s say there’s a (call between a) three and a two that the replay center can see definitely it’s a three, right away, and they can say to a referee on the court, ‘That’s a three,’ you wouldn’t need to have a timeout,” Thorn said. “They could just tell the scorer’s table at the next dead ball that it’s a three. There are different ways you could go from there…. It’s something that’s in progress. As to when it might come in, that’s a really tough one to say. You want (headsets) as small as possible, you’d like to get something that enough of shelf life, if you will, that you wouldn’t have to constantly charge it during play. But it is something that to me has some possibilities because it could help speed up the game, number one, and it could also help the referees.”

The league front offices are considering several other rules changes, some of which could possibly be instituted as early as next season, including the ability to advance the ball to half-court late in games without using a timeout, a coach’s challenge similar to the ones used in the NFL, and the addition of a fourth referee.

Implementation of any new potential rules in the NBA, however, would require approval of both the competition committee and the Board of Governors.

The NBA has never been quick to make a change, but they have made countless tweaks to rules over the years that have revolutionized the game and how we watch it: the shot clock, the three-point line, zone defense, replay rules, eliminating hand checking and innumerable others.

And just for fun, here’s a look behind-the-scene’s at the NBA’s Replay Center in New Jersey.