Blake Griffin says flopping fines just NBA going after cash

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For the most part, NBA players have been backed the NBA’s new penalties for floppers — plays will be reviewed by the league office and guys will be warned for the first instance and fined after that up to $30,000 for the fifth incident.

Players seem to think maybe this will cut down on flopping where they all think they were victims (but none of them think they actually did it).

Blake Griffin, not so much. He thinks this is pretty much a money grab by the league that may not be much of a deterrent when it matters, he told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

“It’s not going to win or lose games for anybody. It’s a good way for the NBA to get more money,” Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin said.

“I guess it’s good in a sense that it stops any of it from happening,” Griffin said after the Clippers’ open practice and scrimmage at the Galen Center on Wednesday. “But now you’re telling me if it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals and a guy has a chance to make a play he’s going to be like, ‘Well, do I want this $10,000 or do I want a championship?’ “

First, let us pause here to enjoy the irony — Blake Griffin sells calls and flops as much as anyone in the league. In fact, he may have my favorite of all time, the self-flop.

Second, this is not a revenue stream for the league. Money from fines is split between the NBA and the players union then both use all that money exclusively for charitable causes (NBA Cares stuff, for example).

Now, to Griffin’s point it will not work at key moments… probably true.

The new procedure works this way: Potential flops will be tagged by NBA officials who watch games (every minute of every game) and sent to the league office for review. If the league feels a player embellished contact to sell a call (which is going to be a hard line to draw consistently and keep fans happy), then players can be fined. First offense in a season gets you a warning. Second time it is a $5,000 fine. Third time it is $10,000, fourth time $15,000 and if there is a fifth offense in a season the fine is $30,000. (This applies only to the regular season, different playoff flopping rules will come later.)

The NBA players union said it will file a grievance against the league for unilaterally imposing these new player fines without negotiating with them. The union suggested this could go to court. The league says they did discuss the fines with the union (the union just doesn’t feel heard or that there were negotiations) and released this statement.

“Although we haven’t seen any filing from the Players Association, our adoption of an anti-flopping rule is fully consistent with our rights and obligations under the collective bargaining agreement and the law.”

Still, most players seem to accept this as the new reality, that the rules will be in place.

Griffin is spot on about part of it — if even a regular season game is on the line and a player is taking a borderline charge, you can bet he is still going to sell the contact in hopes of drawing the whistle and impacting the outcome of the game. And competitive guys will not blink at risking a fine to do it.

It’s going to be interesting to watch this new rule play out this season, because it is no panacea.

Stephen Curry drains shots from near half court during warmups like they’re layups

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Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.

Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.

We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.

Gregg Popovich makes it official: No Kawhi Leonard for Game 4

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This was expected. It still sucks to hear.

Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.

Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.

San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.

Report: Orlando hires Toronto GM Jeff Weltman to be president of basketball operations

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In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.

Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.

Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.

Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.

Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.

That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as

Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.

Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.

He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.

Celtics’ Guerschon Yabusele has foot surgery, expected to be ready for training camp

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When the Boston Celtics head to training camp next fall, all eyes will be on Markelle Fultz whoever the Celtics take with the No. 1 pick. He will be the guy expected, in a few years, to lead the Celtics to the top of the mountain in the East (assuming LeBron James ever leaves that space).

But they will have another high first round pick coming in: Guerschon Yabusele, a 6’8” power forward out of France. The Celtics drafted him No. 16 a year ago, then had him go get a year of seasoning in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Yabusele is having foot surgery but is expected to be ready for training camp, reports Chris Forsberg of ESPN.

Guerschon Yabusele, a 2016 first-round pick of the Boston Celtics, underwent surgery recently to remove bone spurs from the top of both feet and will not participate in summer league, according to a league source.

Yabusele, the 16th overall pick in last year’s draft, spent much of his first professional season stashed in China. He came stateside in March and latched on with the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s D-League affiliate.

For a team that lacks rebounding, Yabusele could be a fit in Boston. He has the build of an old-school power forward, but he has a face-up game on offense, a quicker first step than people think, and he can shoot the three.

The Celtics also have Ante Zizic, last year’s No. 23 pick, who played last season in Turkey. The Celtics are a deep team, will they have a roster space for Yabusele or Zizic next season? Or will at least one of them play another year overseas, stashed away and waiting for their chance? There are a lot of questions about the Celtics’ plans this summer, that is just one of them.