Everything you need to know about the new NBA replay procedure

By Adam Wexler - Sports Anchor/Reporter
2019 Getty Images

HOUSTON - The NBA Board of Governors has unanimously approved two changes to the instant replay rules.

The first change is the introduction of a Coach’s Challenge to trigger instant replay review of a limited set of matters.

The second change enables the NBA Replay Center, in addition to the on-court referees, to trigger instant replay in certain circumstances. This process, which was successfully tested at MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2018 and is being used again at this year’s event, will be implemented for the 2019-20 NBA season.

A version of the Coach’s Challenge to trigger instant replay review that has been in effect in the NBA G League for the last two seasons and is being used at MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2019 will be adopted in the NBA on a one-year trial basis during the 2019-20 season.

“These initiatives further strengthen our officiating program and help referees make the right call,” said NBA President of League Operations Byron Spruell.

“Giving head coaches a voice will enhance the confidence in our replay process among teams and fans and add a new, exciting strategic element to our game. Enabling the NBA Replay Center to trigger instant replay will improve game flow and provide real-time awareness of any adjustments to the score,” Spruell said.

Key features of the Coach’s Challenge are below:

  • Each team is entitled to one challenge in the game, regardless of whether the challenge is successful.
  • A team can use its challenge in the following instances: a called personal foul charged to its own team, a called out-of-bounds violation or a called goaltending or basket interference violation.
  • A team can use its challenge on a called personal foul at any point in the game.
  • In the last two minutes of the fourth period or the last two minutes of overtime, a called out-of-bounds violation or called goaltending/basket interference violation will not be challengeable and instead will be exclusively triggered by on-court referees.
  • To initiate a challenge, a team must immediately call a legal timeout and the head coach must immediately signal for a challenge by twirling his/her finger toward the referees.
  • If a team attempts to challenge an event with no remaining timeouts, the team is charged an excessive timeout, for which the penalty is a technical foul, and no challenge will take place.
  • If a team calls a timeout to challenge an event that may not be reviewed, the team will be charged a timeout but will retain its challenge.

As with other replay reviews, in order to overturn the event as called on the floor, there must be clear and conclusive visual evidence that the call was incorrect.

NBA Replay Center triggers

In the first 46 minutes of the game and the first three minutes of overtime, the NBA Replay Center will be able to trigger instant replay of the following events:

  • 2-point or 3-point field goals – i.e., whether a made field goal should count as two or three points or, in the event of a shooting foul, whether the offensive player should be awarded two or three free throws for being fouled on a shot attempt
  • Potential shot clock violations – i.e., whether a successful field goal was attempted before or after the shot clock expired
  • A new “courtside administrator,” hired and supervised by the League Office, will be stationed at the scorer’s table to facilitate and expedite communication between the NBA Replay Center and the on-court referees. The courtside administrator will not have any decision-making authority with respect to officiating calls or replay determinations.

The NBA’s Competition Committee recommended the two changes to the instant replay rules before the Board of Governors’ vote.

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