The NBA views what Jameer Nelson did in celebration of hitting a big shot against the Bulls earlier this week as an “obscene gesture,” and routinely fines players who continue to rejoice in this way.
We all know it as the “big balls dance,” made famous by Sam Cassell.
Nelson was slapped with a $15,000 fine for it, but doesn’t exactly regret his show of emotion.
From Ken Hornack of Fox Sports Florida (via HoopsHype):
“I accept the fine,” Nelson said Friday at the Magic’s shootaround before their game against the Charlotte Bobcats. “Hopefully I won’t get emotional again. If I have to pay $15,000 for our fans to get excited I’ll do it again.”
Nelson came within a point of tying his career high when he poured in 31 against the Bulls. The 30 field goals he shot were a season high for any Magic player, and his 13 3-point attempts tied Arron Afflalo’s total on Dec. 3 in a double-overtime loss at Philadelphia.
“If I offended anyone, I’m sorry,” he said. “Basketball is a fun game, and you get emotional. You never see my emotions, but you did that game.”
The league considers its product to be a family-friendly one, so their position on fining players for this particular celebration is understandable when viewing it in that light.
Much like the toothless warnings for flopping, however, if players feel the need to break this out when the mood strikes, a $15,000 fine against millions in annual salary isn’t likely to act as much of a deterrent.
Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.
Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.
But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.
LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.
LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.
However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.
For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.
Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.
Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:
Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.