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.

Nike “very concerned” after LeBron James’ jersey rips on opening night

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In the team’s first preseason game, the jersey of the Lakers’ Tyler Ennis was torn in the back with a tug from an opponent. Everyone made tearaway jersey jokes and moved on, thinking it was a one-off situation.

Then LeBron James‘ jersey ripped down the back on opening night, on national television.

Now Nike is looking into the issue, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

Nearly three days after one of its jerseys tore in the first regular-season game of its new deal with the NBA, Nike released a statement Friday expressing worry about the issue, without offering insight as to what happened or what will be done.

“The quality and performance of all our products are of utmost importance,” the company said in a statement. “We are obviously very concerned to see any game day jersey tear and are working with the NBA and teams to avoid this happening in the future.”

This is the first year Nike has the NBA apparel contract, having just taken it over from Adidas. They made the jerseys similar to what had been done for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where there were no issues, but these jerseys are lighter than the former Adidas ones. It’s unclear what, if any, changes could be coming.

Like many of the jerseys from opening night, LeBron’s ripped one is being auctioned by the NBA to raise money for hurricane relief.

Reports: Rockets think Chris Paul could be sidelined for up to a month

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The Rockets’ opening night win over the Warriors was a boost to their confidence — they believe they can challenge the Warriors next May in the playoffs.

Chris Paul is a big part of that plan, which is why we may not see him for up to a month (even though he is listed as day-to-day, and officially only out Saturday). With that, the Rockets are considering adding another point guard to the roster. Marc Stein of the New York Times and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news Friday afternoon.

At the top of the free agent point guard list is Jameer Nelson, the veteran was just waived by Denver to make room for Richard Jefferson.

C.J. Watson and Trey Burke also are available.

Chris Paul and Harden still need to smooth out playing together, something that will take time on the court together. CP3 being out until mid-November is not ideal, but the Rockets are thinking about May, and ideally June, so they will sacrifice a few games now to have him healthy then.

Dwight Howard still feeling ‘super’ expectations with Hornets

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DETROIT – Dwight Howard went from leading Orlando in the NBA Finals to playing in star-studded Los Angeles to joining a Houston team that also fancied itself a contender to being the highest-paid player in his hometown Atlanta to… landing in Charlotte, a small-market franchise with modest ambitions.

The spotlight finally off the former No. 1 pick, Howard doesn’t feel reduced pressure.

“Everybody expects me to be Superman every single night,” Howard said.

Howard is diving into his new situation – his third team in three years – headfirst. He’s leading pregame huddles and the Hornets onto the court.

“I have the most experience,” said Howard, in his 14th season. “So, it’s not to come in and fit in. It’s to come in and be a leader.”

This is the latest referendum on Howard. Despite eight All-NBA selections (most of them first-team) and three Defensive Player of the Year awards, he faces relentless criticism of his legacy.

His exit from the Magic was so ugly, it’s known as the Dwightmare. His feuding with the Lakers great is the stuff of legend in Kobe Bryant mythology. Howard never clicked with James Harden with the Rockets. The Hawks unloaded him for a paltry return in what was more salary rearrangement than salary dump, and his former teammates reportedly cheered.

Howard just seems to rub people the wrong way.

That makes his latest test in Charlotte so interesting. Howard is supplanting maybe Kemba Walker as the face of the team and definitely Cody Zeller as starting center. The Hornets have found success with Zeller, going 63-53 when he starts and 57-73 otherwise the last three seasons.

“The nature of his game, he plays in a way to help other people play better,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said of Zeller. “He is a screener. He is a ball-mover.”

In other words, the type of player teammates love.

Is Howard?

Howard is still solidly productive. In Charlotte’s season-opening loss to the Pistons, he posted 10 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks – and ruffled a few feathers. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

https://twitter.com/Vincent_Ellis56/status/921100491362365440

Dirty-work players who irritate opponents are revered. High-priced players who irritate their teammates are loathed.

Howard walks a fine line.

He returned to Atlanta with emotion and expectations. By the end of his time with the Hawks, everyone seemed unhappy. Still, Howard says he’s grateful for the opportunity to play in front of people, especially his grandparents, who watched him grow up.

“Atlanta is going to be my home,” Howard said. “The Hawks is always going to be my favorite team.”

It’s just never easy for Howard.

Even a career Basketball Reference pegs as 99% likely to end in the Hall of Fame based on his tangible accomplishments stirs controversy.

“He’s a Hall of Famer right now if he never played another game,” Clifford said.

Said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who coached Howard in Orlando: “It’s mind-boggling to me that would be any debate there.”

It’s probably easier for Van Gundy and Howard to recall their time together fondly than it was to enjoy it while partnered. Clifford, who was an assistant in Orlando and Los Angeles while Howard was there, is just getting into his time as Howard’s head coach.

It’s those middle moments, in the throes of long seasons, that have proven difficult for Howard and those around him.

Here he is in Charlotte, hosting the Hawks tonight, and facing another challenge. The Hornets would probably be happy just making the playoffs and ecstatic advancing, which would be their first playoff-series victory since reemerging as the Bobcats in 2004. Howard, who has reached three conference finals, is counting on himself to lead them there – even if nobody else is anymore.

Kobe Bryant still has it, bounces shot in from near half court

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This was a Nike gala, an event with a basketball theme. The court was lit up from below, there were tables at half court, and people had drinks in their hands.

Kobe Bryant was there, stylishly dressed in black. So was famous model Winnie Harlow.

Know that regardless of the setting, Kobe still has game.