Charles Barkley joins growing chorus annoyed with Blake Griffin flopping

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After last night’s Memphis loss to the Clippers, I asked a couple Memphis players if the Clippers’ theatrics and flopping bothered them. Nobody would go near the topic. Well, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins called Chris Paul a flopper on national television, but even off the record the Memphis players would shake their heads to acknowledge it and say they didn’t want to talk about it.

But everyone else is.

The Clippers have become the poster children for flopping in the NBA. It lit up twitter Monday night. Blake Griffin gets the brunt of it because it contrasts with his physical, almost confrontational style of play. We have video of Chris Paul flopping when a referee touches him. It’s not a simplistic situation — Griffin and Paul draw a lot of contact in part because they attack the rim. They get fouled more than they get calls. But they are trying to play the gamesmanship card now of selling that contact to get calls with the kind overacting usually reserved for bad dinner theater.

And there may have been no more vocal critic of the way Griffin is handling this than Charles Barkley. He ripped Griffin on the TNT postgame show Monday and said the same thing on the Dan Patrick Show (via Sports Radio Interviews).

“(Griffin) made me so mad last night. I called him Vince Carter last night. Because Vince Carter was a great player — we used to joke he got shot like three times a game. I called him that on the show last night, I said ‘Blake Griffin has turned into a new Vince Carter.’ … He gets shot three or four times a game and just goes down. He better stop that flopping. He gotta stop that, because you can tell all these players are taking cheap shots because he’s getting to be annoying with all the flopping.”

Will he lose the respect of players for flopping?

“No they just gonna enjoy hitting you more. Because what the mentality becomes then is, ‘OK, if you’re gonna flop I’m gonna knock the hell out of you.’ That’s actually the way it goes. They won’t lose respect because he’s a terrific player.”

What the Clippers are doing is not new — even players with a tough reputation like Kobe Bryant sell calls. And that’s part of it — when your team does it, they are just trying to sell the call because the referees don’t respect them; when the other team does it, they are flopping and why doesn’t the referee call that?

What I fear is the second round when the Clippers (assuming they can close out the Grizzlies) take on the Spurs, who have the king of all floppers in Manu Ginobili. It’s going to look at times like there are snipers all over the arena picking guys off. Yea! NBA Basketball, it’s fantastic!

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.