NBA not making changes to toothless flopping fines; replay use expanded

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This was David Stern back in June at the start of the NBA Finals, when asked about the league’s flopping policy of reviews, warnings, then $5,000 and escalating fines:

“It isn’t enough. It isn’t enough. You’re not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player’s salary is $5.5 million. And anyone who thought that was going to happen was allowing hope to prevail over reason.”

That’s what we were all thinking. So we were going to see a change right?

Nope.

The NBA owners (in their Board of Governor’s meeting in Las Vegas) voted to continue the flopping policy and fines as is for another season. This was Stern (who works for the owners, remember) on Thursday after the BOG meeting.

“There was a report on our flopping rules and the competition committee thought they were working well and didn’t recommend any changes to them,” Stern said.

Okay then. Apparently somebody thought that worked last season so we are going to get another round of it.

Stern also talked about how there was some discussion of ways to speed up the replay process. What that could mean is by next playoffs there will be a fourth official at the desk to handle replay, and eventually the NBA could go to an NHL-like system where a central office makes all the video replay calls (that process is generally quicker than the NBA’s current system).

“It’s always something that’s a tradeoff, but we really want to get it right,” Stern said.

While flopping system of penalties stays the same, there are a number of other replay and rule changes for next season:

• Replay can now be used with wider latitude on block/charge plays — before referees could only use it to determine whether a defender was inside or outside the restricted area, now officials can reverse a charge call, or uphold a blocking call at the same time. Meaning they can call a block, look at the video and change the call to a charge.

• Replay also now can be used to determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has started his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.

• Finally with replay, if a referee is looking at one call and sees an unsportsmanlike, flagrant penalty that was not called, he can now make that call.

• One new rule says if an offensive player “leaves the floor and does not immediately return to the floor” (providing he is not injured or something) his team will give up possession.

• Stern also spoke on the impact of new CBA on free agent movement.

“There’s a little bit more free agent movement than we had under the old agreement, and that is something we projected and expected, because there’s more player sharing as teams under the cap acquire players and as teams who are up against the tax level or above it find themselves making harder decisions about what players are necessary to retain or not.”

He said this makes the league more competitive.

• Stern said he expects there to be approved testing of HGH for players once the league and union discuss the issue. However, right now the union leadership is shifting so things are stalled.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.