Kobe Bryant does it. LeBron James does it. Kevin Garnett does it. Much of the league does it. Rasheed Wallace did it like he was playing down at Venice Beach in Los Angeles.
Players complain about calls. Or non-calls. They throw their hands in the air in disgust even at the most obvious of calls.
Do it now, get a technical.
It’s one of the changes in rule enforcement in the NBA this coming season, as the league announced this week. Players that make an aggressive gesture, and ones that are demonstrable after a call, charge at referee after a call and you get a technical. Even if you use a polite tone, if you enquirer multiple times (Derek Fisher, Ray Allen) you get a “T.” It’s not just words it’s body language. The league laid out specific actions that get you a tech now and told the refs to enforce it.
Why the change? Because you complained.
This comes based on fan surveys, as Ron Johnson, the NBA’s senior vice president of referee operations told Henry Abbott of ESPN.
“Our players are more personally connected to fans than any other sports,” Johnson said. “We don’t have masks. … There’s nothing you can hide on the expression of an NBA players. … People expect hockey players to be fighting. They expect baseball managers to be kicking dirt on umpires. But that’s not our game. That’s not what our fans want. They tell us in many many ways and I think we have to adjust to meet the needs of our league and our fans. It’s a business.”
Players are supposed to be able to make heat of the moment reactions, but it’s the extended over the top reactions that are supposed to draw fines.
It will be interesting to see where this like is drawn. Will some referees take it to an extreme where they pass out a lot of techs, while others will be treating it like the status quo. What players want is consistency, and this seems like it will be very inconsistent.
Three Things to Know: New look Bucks remind Raptors East full of threats
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Bucks rain threes, throw down dunks, remind Raptors the top of the East is a Battle Royale. Here’s my primary takeaway from Milwaukee’s 104-99 win in Toronto Sunday:
I can’t wait for the second round and beyond of the Eastern Conference playoffs next May.
Any combination of the big four teams — Toronto, Milwaukee, Boston, and Philadelphia — is going to be a compelling combination of slugfest and chess match. All those teams are deep with talent, have versatility, can knock down threes, can defend, and any one of them can win the East’s King of the Mountain battle next May.
The Bucks reminded the Raptors on Sunday not to count them out.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was the focus of the army of long, athletic wing defenders the Raptors can roll out — Paskal Siakam, Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby, Danny Green — and they did as much as anyone can do to make Antetokounmpo look human, he finished with “just” 19 points on 15 shots. Of course, he also had 19 rebounds, 6 assists, but he didn’t take over the game. Toronto had clearly focused on making it difficult for the Greek Freak to beat them, although he still was doing this (even if it didn’t count).
What the Bucks had was other guys to step up. Brook Lopez was every bit of Splash Mountain scoring 19 points and going 5-of-8 from three, including a beautiful step back at one point. Then, with the game on the line, Malcolm Brogdon was doing this.
Malcolm Brogdon knocks down two triples to put the @Bucks ahead for good!
These are not the Jason Kidd Bucks anymore, this is a modern NBA team now — they took 39 threes and only 12 of their 87 shots came between 8 feet of the rim and the three-point arc (13.8 percent of their shots from that midrange). Credit the Raptors defense, that’s more midrangers than the Bucks usually take. However, under Mike Budenholzer these Bucks are committed to their style of play.
So is Toronto under Nick Nurse, and they took 44 threes, hitting 15 (34.1 percent). The Raptors just were not as efficient: Serge Ibaka had 22 points but needed 21 shots, Leonard had 20 points on 18 shots.
That is where Toronto needs Kyle Lowry to step up, but he is in the middle of a terrible shooting slump and was scoreless in this one (he did have seven assists, he’s more of a playmaker now, but he still needs to be a threat to score for it all to come together). Lowry was 0-of-5 Sunday, making him 5-of-32 in his last five games.
This was a highly entertaining, up-and-down game that for a few minutes became the Brogdon vs. Fred VanVleet shootout we all expected (VanVleet had 19 off the bench). Actually, it speaks to the depth of these rosters that this game could become that and never lose its energy.
Milwaukee got the win Sunday, but next May if these teams meet in the playoffs we’re all going to win.
2) In the wake of a 56-point blowout loss, Bulls players call for meetings, everybody vents. When Fred Hoiberg was fired, Bulls management didn’t give Jim Boylen the interim tag as the new coach, they gave him the job for the rest of this season and noted he’s under contract for next season and they want to bring him back.
The reason for this was to give him leverage to come in hard and shake things up — Boylen has called it “shock and awe” to borrow the military term. He’s running long, hard practices and benching starters when they struggle. He did that for the final 21 minutes Saturday 56-point blowout loss to the Celtics.
Sunday, players pushed back against the tactics. It almost led to a player mutiny where they didn’t show up to practice, but then Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez talked everyone into showing up and meeting — first a players’ only meeting, followed by one with coaches and the front office. There was a lot of venting to do.
Per multiple sources, players started a group text exchange debating whether to show up at practice facility today. They ultimately decided to show up and told coaching staff they wanted players only meeting, which was followed by the meeting with coaches.
Regardless of which side called the meeting, players of coaches, this Wendell Carter Jr. quote sums up the nature of the talks and is as transparent as anyone who meet with reporters today was about the current state of the team. pic.twitter.com/Hw4YDwzP0b
Boylen has come in trying to change the culture of a Bulls team that needs it. Remember, he comes out of the Spurs organization, where Tim Duncan was open to Gregg Popovich coaching him hard and calling him out in front of the team as an example. Thing is, there is no Duncan on this Bulls team (on or off the court). When Hoiberg was the head coach Boylen could be the bad cop, hold guys accountable, and there was a balance, even if it didn’t work all that well. However, as the head coach, you can’t just be the bad cop or you lose guys. There has to be positives, there has to be rest for guys. More importantly, there must be explanations of why things are happening, trust needs to be built up. Do that and this generation of players will still run through walls for a coach — but if the coach just says “run through that wall” it doesn’t work anymore.
Everyone is adjusting to the new realities in Chicago. With Markkanen back and the team getting healthy, they should be good enough to move out of the East cellar. However, that’s going to take some work, from the players and coaches. And some open communication. That, at least, seems to be happening.
3) Julius Randle is a beasting as a starter. When Nikola Mirotic went out with an injury, Julius Randle slid into the starting lineup and has played in a way that is going to make it very difficult to take him out of it. Randle has dropped at least 26 points in his last four games — all starts — and that includes 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists Sunday as the Pelicans knocked off the Pistons 116-108.
In his last four games as a starter, Randle is averaging 29.5 points and 11.3 rebounds. It might be time for coach Alvin Gentry to take Randle out of the Sixth Man of the Year running — a race he has been in the conversation for early this season — because he will start to many games. It’s hard to argue with production.
DeMarcus Cousins is set to start practicing with Warriors’ G-League team
According to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, Warriors coach Steve Kerr says that Cousins will start to practice with Golden State’s G-League affiliate the Santa Cruz Warriors.
DeMarcus Cousins will practice with the Warriors’ G-League team at some point soon, maybe as early as this week, to really ramp up toward return. Warriors midseason practices are too light. Kerr wants Cousins in high intensity environments.
Reports have said that Cousins is slated to return with the team after Christmas, and so this timeline stays with that thinking. Returns from Achilles injuries can be dodgy, and there will be a lot of question marks about his ability, both due to his size and age.
If Cousins can come back and produce efficiently, he will help bolster Golden State against a shifting Western Conference in the playoffs.
David West on Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dust-up: ‘I could’ve stopped it’
David West used to be a calming influence in the Golden State Warriors locker room. The former two-time All-Star big man retired in August after a long career, and the Warriors are perhaps worse off because of it.
West was known to be the guy who could sort out the problems of other teammates, acting as an enforcer and mediator, a focuser of will. That might have come in handy this season as the Warriors have had some internal strife.
During a recent interview with The Athletic, West said he felt he would have been able to diffuse the situation during the Clippers game and avoid some of the questions about Golden State moving forward.
“I’m gonna be honest,” West told The Athletic by phone last month. “The only moment (where) I said, ‘Man, I wish I was there,’ was at that Clippers game. When Draymond turned the ball over at the end — and he was going to create the play; he was going to make the play, it just sometimes doesn’t happen — at that moment, when I saw the way he was walking, and I saw KD react, and it was like ‘Oh, I know if I was there that shit wouldn’t have happened.’ That’s the only moment where I felt like, ‘Man I could’ve stopped it.’”
At this juncture it’s hard to know just how much the issues between Durant and Green will cause, playoff time. The question about Durant leaving in free agency isn’t of real concern at this moment, mostly because it’s impossible to predict.
From an outside perspective, it does seem like West would have been a major factor during the Durant-Green tiff if he’d been in a Warriors jersey. West went on to say that the idea that Golden State doesn’t have to deal with adversity is “a false narrative”.
Will the Warriors be cohesive enough come playoff time? We’ll just have to wait to find out.
Report: Lakers trying to add Trevor Ariza via trade
Phoenix Suns wing Trevor Ariza has been a popular target of topic of discussion for NBA fans, either as a potential buyout candidate or as a trade target for playoff teams looking to add a wily veteran.
On Sunday, we got word of one potential deal with the Los Angeles Lakers that could involve Ariza.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ariza could be on the move if LA can find a third party to take on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The teams have been working to reach an agreement with a third team that would take on Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as part of a potentially larger deal, league sources said.
The Suns want to land a playmaking guard and a draft asset as the price of unloading Ariza, sources said. Phoenix and Los Angeles have made progress in third-team scenarios, although no agreements are close and both teams remain active in multiple trade discussions throughout the league, sources said.
This is an early report but it clearly signals that the Lakers are going to be bold as they try to solidify be roster around LeBron James heading into the new year. They’ve already added veteran big man is Tyson Chandler, also formerly of the Suns, so trading for Ariza would be in line with that strategy.