NBA

NBA dealing with referee shortage due to COVID-related issues, per report

USATSI

Nine NBA referees are currently unavailable for games due to COVID-related issues, and a 10th official is sidelined due to an injury, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. That’s the highest amount of officials not available at any point this season. With the playoffs quickly approaching, the lack of referees could become an even bigger issue. 

A league spokesperson told ESPN that all 10 refs currently out will be back in May — mostly because the ones currently unavailable can’t work because of contact tracing. The NBA is using extra caution when it comes to the referees, the league’s vice president of referee development and training Monty McCutchen told ESPN.

The absences have lead to two-person referee crews rather than three, as well as lower-level G League referees moving up to call NBA games more often than expected. G League officials typically head up to the NBA for six-to-eight games each, but this year they are working 20-25 NBA games a piece.

According to McCutchen, officiating has actually been better this season.

“Our metrics and our data show that we’re better this year, analytically, with our decision making. These were our top six G League officials who would have been getting some NBA games anyway this year,” McCutchen said. “They had to be pressed into some more service, but they are knocking on the door to being staff members.”

Not everyone is on board with how the NBA has handled the added caution when it comes to referees, though. 

“It’s been bad all year,” one general manager told ESPN, while another saying the officials are “young and inexperienced.” 

The playoffs are set to begin on May 22.



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