Report: COVID-19 creating NBA referee shortage

At least 10 referees are currently unavailable due to issues related to COVID-19, ESPN reported Monday.

Many of the absences are tied to contact tracing as opposed to positive tests, per the report, which adds that the NBA expects all officials presently sidelined to be available for the playoffs next month.

Absences are creating more two-man referee crews, which could continue for the next several weeks.

“We at the NBA have taken a very strong stance, especially with referees traveling commercial, that we want referees and the teams that they are serving to be safe,” Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s vice president of referee development and training, told ESPN. “And so with an abundance of caution, we pull people out on contact tracing, if there’s even the smallest inkling (of an issue).”

Rodney Mott, NBA, referee
Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

McCutchen said the league has used its top six G League officials. Each of them had already been scheduled for some NBA games before the protocol pushed them into more games.

In the playoffs, an alternate official is assigned to each site in case of an injury or illness.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)