Winderman: NBA should adopt NHL’s “hockey central” foul review

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No sooner did the forearms of Tyson Chandler meet the force of LeBron James then the referees in Game 1 of Heat-Knicks huddled to come up with what has been the consensus answer for flagrant fouls this season: Assume the worst and allow the video to sort it out.

With all Flagrant Foul 2 calls subject to video review, it has become the easy way out.

Call it a Flagrant 1 and play continues, without review. But rule it a Flagrant 2, which Danny Crawford certainly knew it wasn’t, and you not only can downgrade it to a Flagrant 1, but downgrade it to a mere personal foul, as well.

The reality was Chandler was never at risk for automatic Flagrant 2 ejection. Crawford knew it; Chandler knew it.

But to have to go through with the courtside charade is a bit much.

What the NBA needs is go to the NHL’s “hockey central” approach, where all video issues are handled from the central league office by someone who can assess the issue without the emotion of being on scene, alongside peering players and combustible coaches, in front of frenzied fans.

Beyond that, there would be a single standard for all such flagrant-foul determinations, not what Dan Crawford is feeling in Miami, Joey Crawford is feeling in L.A. or Scott Foster is feeling in San Antonio.

It also would speed play to a degree that shot-clock issues and other re-settable timing issues, or even 3-point judgments, could be handled as play is continuing, rather during ensuing stoppages courtside.

With the NHL, there is one voice nightly in Toronto on what is and isn’t a goal.

With almost no overlap of NBA games in the postseason, such timing and judgment issues could be handled by even higher authorities in the league’s New York office rather than by exhausted officials who work without the opportunity to rest their feet.

Heck, have David Stern handle it from his couch.

Particularly with flagrant fouls, decisions that have to be made in the moment, a uniform league standard would level the playing field, when even an NBA neophyte can recognize that some officials are better than others, some more prone to eject than others.

When it comes to ejections, as it is with suspensions, why not handle all such matters from the league office, and allow the referees to sort out more mundane issues, like block-charge?

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Watch the top 60 clutch shots from last NBA season

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It’s that time of the year when there is no basketball, so we fill the time with idle Kyrie Irving speculation and video highlights of last season.

Along those lines, above you can out the top 60 clutch shots from last season, as determined by the folks at NBA.com.

The great thing about the clutch shot list is the ball is in the hands of stars at the ends of games, so there is plenty of Russell Westbrook, John Wall, LeBron James, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and more. Personally, I would have switch No. 1 and No. 2 on the list, but it’s all fun to relive.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert: Pacers ‘could have done better’ on Paul George trade

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Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. LeBron James could leave next summer. The Cavaliers keep churning through general managers, the newest – Koby Altman – the reason for today’s press conference.

But Cavs owner Dan Gilbert looked past his own team’s turmoil and potential turmoil to take a shot at the Pacers, who traded Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

“I will say Indiana could have done better than they did,” Gilbert said after Altman refused to directly address a question about George trade talks and shifted the discussion elsewhere.

This didn’t strike me as Gilbert trying to distract from Cleveland’s troubles. He just seemed to want to take a shot at a foe, something he’s no stranger to doing. The Cavaliers are particularly salty about their trade offer for George, which included Kevin Love, not being accepted.

For what it’s worth, Gilbert is right. The Pacers should have done better. Oladipo is now on a lucrative contract extension, and Sabonis spent his rookie season showcasing the reasons people doubted him the draft. That’s a piddling return for a star, even one on an expiring contract with dreams of joining the Lakers.

Report: Kings meet with former Magic GM Otis Smith about front-office job

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The Kings lost Scott Perry to the Knicks, so Sacramento is seeking someone else to aid Vlade Divac in the front office.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Former Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith has met with Sacramento Kings officials about the franchise’s vacant vice president of basketball operations job, league sources told ESPN.

Smith has plenty of experience, which Divac lacks. But it’s not all good experience.

Running the Magic, Smith made numerous errors – including drafting Fran Vazquez (who has never played in the NBA) No. 11, overpaying Rashard Lewis and then trading Lewis for Gilbert Arenas’ even worse contract. If Smith’s Orlando tenure is predictive, he’ll indulge the Kings’ worst tendencies to mortgage the future for the present.

That said, Smith might have learned from his time with the Magic (though working under Stan Van Gundy with the Pistons the few couple years isn’t exactly the best place to hone long-term-planning skills). What amounts to an assistant general-manager role might be a better fit for him, too.

Usually, this opening wouldn’t garner so much attention. But Perry was lavished with praise for Sacramento’s offseason, raising the profile of this job – which already carried relative prominence. The No. 2 in the Kings’ front office is now perceived, somewhat fairly, as more important than the typical assistant general manager.

Lakers sign Tyler Ennis to minimum contract

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Jut before the trade deadline, the Lakers took a flier on Tyler Ennis, who had struggled in two-plus seasons with the Suns, Bucks and Rockets.

The former No. 18 pick finally looked like an NBA player in Los Angeles, so he’s returning.

Lakers release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard Tyler Ennis, it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

This is fantastic value for the Lakers. Ennis is probably worth a minimum salary, and if he is, they have him for two years at that price. If not, they can drop him for no cost next summer, when their cap room will be at a premium. This is the type of bet smart teams make, which bodes well for the Magic Johnson regime.

Ennis’ productivity in Los Angeles might not be sustainable. He shot well above his career marks on 3-pointers and free throws in a small sample. But he looked more comfortable on the court, showing some of the savvy he was expected to bring from Syracuse. He’s also just 22, and point guards tend to develop later than other positions.

The Lakers still have their room exception, which they could use on another point guard. So, it’s uncertain whether Ennis will back up Lonzo Ball or fall to third string. I’m not sure any remaining free-agent point guards – Ty Lawson, Deron Williams, Brandon Jennings, Ramon Sessions – will command more than the minimum or playing time over Ennis, though.