Sorry conspiracy theorists, one former NBA referee says stars don't get enough calls

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reThumbnail image for Barnes_ref.jpgNBA referee conspiracy theories rank right up there with JFK, Area 51 and Tupac is alive in American mythology.

It’s an almost unquestioned belief that NBA superstars get the calls. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James get calls when they drive that Caron Butler or Jonny Flynn would not. Particularly late in games or during the playoffs. It’s probably why the Lakers won the last two titles, right?

Not even close, said former NBA official Ronnie Nunn, as told to the Toronto Star.

“The reverse is true, and that’s something the fans don’t know. To be perfectly honest, star players get fewer calls than they deserve. They probably deserve more calls,” said Ronnie Nunn, a retired NBA ref who now works as the director of development of NBA officials. “(Star players) play through contact that would make one believe the contact wasn’t significant enough for a foul. And then you look at it on tape and you see, ‘Wow, he really got bumped on that play, but he swirled around it and he made it look easy.’ And so, the no-call was incorrect.”

You know who gets the calls in the NBA? The aggressor. Almost every time. If you see a free throw disparity in a game, it’s not because a referee favored Miami over Atlanta, it’s because the Heat got the ball inside, because their players attacked the rim while the Hawks settled for jumpers.

But that’s not as much fun as saying the refs were trying to decided the game. And that Tupac was there, too, in section 114. I swear.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.

76ers coach Brett Brown: Joel Embiid’s minute restriction could quickly rise

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Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).

But good news could be on the way.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.

Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.

Report: Bucks have offered second-round pick as enticement for Rashad Vaughn trade

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John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.

Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.

It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.

But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.

Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.

This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.