SAN ANTONIO – After a six-month review, the NBA intends to improve its officiating by launching several initiatives aimed at enhancing referees' recruitment, training, development and performance.
Among them: The league will increase its officiating staff by 25 percent over the next three seasons. It will use a "data-driven game review system" to measure refs and track progress regarding errors and call accuracy over multiple season and use technology, including virtual reality, to train officials.
It's also organizing an advisory council that includes former NBA referee Steve Javie, current TV analysts Doug Collins and Kenny Smith, retired U.S. General Martin E. Dempsey and former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Current NBA players, coaches and referees will be named later.
"Ours is a hard game to officiate, it really is," Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Our players are so good, it's hard to see in real time. A lot of it is judgment. … It's a tough job. Hopefully, there's something good that comes out of it. You never really know what the end result is. I like the idea behind it, but we have to be sure we make it better and not worse."
Duncan is a former collegiate player whom Thibodeau coached at Harvard long ago.
"I like the people they have on the committee," Thibodeau said. "I think their intention is to make the game great. We feel the game is in a great place, but you're always looking for ways to improve the game."
On the campaign trail
San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard for MVP?
The Spurs are 48-13, and Leonard is their new superstar, a guy who delivered the winning shot vs. Indiana Wednesday and then provided a couple of late steals and the pass that set up Patty Mills' crucial three-point shot in Friday's overtime victory at New Orleans.
"Not just because of his numbers, but about when and how he plays both ends," Wolves guard Ricky Rubio said. "He doesn't do it just one night. He does it every night."
Ready to play
The Wolves played their fourth and final 8 p.m. start on Saturdays because of an exclusive television window granted to ABC's national 7:30 p.m. game.
"That's a big part of your professionalism," Thibodeau said. "In the NBA, you have all kinds of different start times because of TV and other things. It might be noon or it might be 8:30. You've got to be ready whenever the ball goes up. That's why it's so important to have a routine."
Going old school
Shabazz Muhammad didn't plan to wear a headband Saturday, but he reserves the right to wear it again after so far sporting it three times (with a 2-1 record) before ditching it Wednesday at Utah and Saturday. Fashion or function for an accessory that already has its own Twitter account?
"It's kind of both," he said. "Just trying something new."
Thibodeau when asked if he prefers Muhammad with the headband or without: "I know you're not serious about that, but I appreciate your sense of humor."
• Thibodeau said he hopes to find a much improved Lance Stephenson when the team returns home for three Target Center games this week. The Wolves intend to re-sign him when his Grade 2 ankle sprain heals. "We have to make sure he's healthy," Thibodeau said.
• Zach LaVine is expected to return this week from Los Angeles, where he has been rehabilitating with one of the team's athletic trainers after surgery to repair a torn ACL.