Monty McCutchen Rumors
Seeing NBA officials go to the replay center at midcourt has become a commonplace yet frustrating aspect of these playoffs, with refs determining if contact is worth a flagrant foul. What’s a flagrant? Is it a Flagrant 2? What happened to the hard playoff foul, to reasonably stop a player from scoring on a touch foul and going for a 3-point play? The interpretations of the rules have changed through the years and with multiple camera angles equipped in every arena, there’s no lack of officiating experts at home or in the stands.
Monty McCutchen was a longtime official and now works in the league office as head of officiating. He spoke to Yahoo Sports recently, addressing concerns that have been on full display over the past few weeks. The data shows the officials are blowing the whistle more but getting more calls right, even though McCutchen admits he understands the frustration with the frequency of reviews. “I do think it’s a fair criticism,” McCutchen said to Yahoo Sports. “I would say then, that we’re sort of betwixt, in between a rock and a hard place there. Based on our desire for the health of our players. It is a difficult spot for our referees to be in. Do I think we’ve gone a couple of times when we didn’t need to? Yes, I do. And we try to train and calibrate that. “And the reason we’re blowing our whistle more is because the play is more and more assertive and more aggressive. And in some cases, even rough.”
It seems obvious when the notion is presented aloud, but it’s not that there’s more rough play — there’s just less congestion for incidental contact. Almost everything has to be done with intention, thus blurring the lines. “It’s hard to get windup and impact when all 10 players are playing in the paint like Charles Barkley did,” McCutchen told Yahoo Sports. “But when you start playing in space, you get a lot more of the [Memphis wing] Dillon Brooks chase down, a lot more of the layup where someone is recovering like [Dallas’] Dorian Finney-Smith.”
ESPN reported that more than a third of the league’s referees were in COVID protocols at the end of December. But, as with players and coaches, the regular referees are, slowly, coming back. “We’re coming out of the worst of it,” NBA Senior Vice President, Head of Referee Development and Training Monty McCutchen said Tuesday, noting the combination of vaccines and boosters — all required by the league for officials to work NBA games this season — along with the antibodies produced in healthy people who have gotten the vaccines and boosters but nonetheless test positive. “That being said, we’ve had to lean on other people,” he said. “And we’ve been proud of their work. … We’ve lost, it seems to me, this ability to allow people a proper apprenticeship. We tend to want our first-year players to be immediate successes. We want our first-year coaches to be immediate successes. And, of course, refereeing is always judged up against this unreasonable standard of perfection, instead of where are they on their arc, and are they doing excellent for that arc of growth?”
Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s vice president of referee development and training, said Tuesday afternoon that he’s pleased with the league’s progress toward eliminating foul calls on non-basketball moves. But he added that his officials are still working to strike the right balance between not calling those non-basketball moves and missing some defensive fouls, and that the league is still committed to offensive players not being held and grabbed — what the league refers to as “freedom of movement.”
“The referees have done an excellent job,” McCutchen said on a conference call with a handful of reporters after a meeting of the league’s competition committee earlier Tuesday. “I think in any of this, there’s some adjustment period on the shooting foul itself, as to what constitutes the things we’re asking. There’ve been a few instances, nothing that’s raised to a significant level, where we would still want a defensive foul where it’s getting lumped into a non-basketball move. “
Conley was in the G League for seven seasons, Schwab for five and, like Scott, they also worked WNBA games this season. “It’s continuing our thought of ‘What do good officials look like?’” said Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s senior vice president and head of referee development and training. “They look like anyone you see on the street. They look like men, they look like women, they look like people from different cultures. There’s both diversity and inclusion in our hires.”