MIAMI — A larger officiating crew isn’t necessarily a good thing in Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s eyes.
The NBA Development League announced Monday that it will experiment with four- and five-person officiating crews for nine games this season. The NBA currently uses three-person officiating crews.
“I’m a little bit more of the school of thought that the more people that are out there, the less accountability there is,” Spoelstra said before Monday’s game against the Wizards. “Actually Ron (Rothstein) used to talk about it all the time. When he coached, there was two officials. You watched the game and you watched everything that was happening, and you end up having more accountability.”
The D-League will begin its experiment, which is being conducted by NBA and NBA D-League Referee Operations, with larger officiating crews on Dec. 26. The Sioux Falls Skyforce, the Heat’s D-League affiliate, is not included in any of them.
“It seems like now more and more that it’s somebody else’s call or it’s somebody else’s eyes that are supposed to be on that,” Spoelstra said. “There’s a lot more gray area. It’s very confusing to all of us. It must be incredibly stressful and confusing for the officials. I think you add one more, much less two more to the mix and it will become even more confusing, in my opinion. And there’s more bodies on the court. We need more court space and less bodies.”
The four-person experiments will be run in two configurations. The first will feature two officials in the lead position and two split between the slot and the trail. The second is highlighted by two officials in the slot position with the additional two as a trail and a lead, respectively.
In the five-person tests, the existing three-person system will rotate typically with the two additional officials taking lead stationary positions on each end of the court.
“We are confident in how our three-person system works and are constantly thinking of ways to improve our game,” said Bob Delaney, the NBA’s vice president of referee operations and director of officials. “The four- and five-referee initiative is a prime example of that focus and will help the NBA with research and development. The NBA D-League provides the perfect opportunity to conduct this test.”