Mike Derer, Associated Press
Brian Peters, center, a television director for the Denver Nuggets, takes a test with other NBA team representatives and referees about basketball rules

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — It's still training camp, not boot camp.

The NBA's referees are now reporting to a general, and so far he seems a perfect fit for a group that was seeking a strong leader to guide them through the toughest times their profession has ever endured.

Ron Johnson, a two-star general who served 32 years in the Army, was hired over the summer as the league's new senior vice president of referee operations. He's just starting to meet many of his officials during training camp this week and has made an instant impact.

"I've never seen the morale higher," said Bernie Fryer, who attended camp for 28 years as a referee and is now the NBA's vice president and director of officials.

That's hard to believe coming from a group that's taken as many hits lately as the NBA's referees.

Since the refs arrived here for their six-day camp, Tim Donaghy began serving his 15-month prison sentence for betting on games he officiated and taking cash payments from gambling associates in exchange for information to help them win their bets.

The scandal exploded last summer, and just when Donaghy's former colleagues thought the worst was behind them, blew up again at the worst time, when his lawyer accused them of misconduct and bias during the NBA finals.

"That was a blow to our profession and we took it," veteran referee Joey Crawford said, "and the league was phenomenal supporting us and we supported one another and we got over it. We're getting over it and we're going to move on. We're going to be fine. It's in the past. We have to heal and we're going to."

A new referees operations department is in place to help. Besides Johnson and Fryer, Joe Borgia became vice president of referee operations.

The sessions Wednesday included reviews of game footage and discussions of calls that were made and missed, quizzes involving rules interpretations, and reminders of areas the officials should focus on in the coming season. There are three new referees, but even someone like Crawford, entering his 33rd year, said the reminders are beneficial.

"You're always trying to get better," he said. "You cannot believe that you've got this game made as a referee, because I don't even get 100 percent of the plays right in the first quarter. So I'm looking for perfection."

BOBCATS EXTEND OFFER TO LANDRY: The Charlotte Bobcats moved to bolster their thin frontcourt Wednesday, signing Houston Rockets restricted free-agent forward Carl Landry to a three-year, $9 million offer sheet.

The Rockets have a week to decide whether to match the offer or lose Landry to Charlotte.

ATKINS UNDERGOES SURGERY: Denver Nuggets guard Chucky Atkins will miss six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Wednesday.