David Stern says league will discuss adding goaltending calls to instant replay list

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NBA commissioner David Stern wants the NBA to do away with goaltending as we know it, and adopt the international rule which would allow players to touch the ball as soon as it hits the rim. The competition committee has fought him on this issue, and it’s not one that’s likely to change anytime soon. But at the very least, the league is going to discuss adding goaltending calls — especially those made in game-deciding situations — to the list of reviewable plays.

Stern was in Phoenix on Tuesday to take in the game between the Suns and the Spurs, and met with the media for about 20 minutes just prior to tip-off. When asked if there were any plans to expand instant replay, he offered up his thoughts on the goaltending rule as it currently exists, and discussed the nuances of implementing any changes.

“Our competition committee has the final word on these matters, but I think there’s going to be a very robust discussion about goaltending … which, I’m not going to mention LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland game,” Stern said.

The game Stern spoke of involved Aldridge cleanly blocking a late-game layup attempt from Kevin Durant, but the referees ruled it a goaltend, and that sent the game into overtime where the Blazers went on to lose. The league issued a statement admitting the call was wrong, but it was too little, too late for a struggling Blazers team that was deprived of a win in regulation.

“What we want to do (with instant replay) is get it right, without killing the flow of the game,” Stern said. “My proposal, which doesn’t get any respect at all,  is to eliminate basket interference. It hits the rim, adopt the European rule — it’s in play. You know, ‘Is the hand just over the cylinder? Or not?’ Why task the referees with that? Just do it the European way. It’ll make free throw misses more fun too. But that’s not something that I have been successful on.”

This isn’t the first time Stern has mentioned his push to adopt the international rule on the matter. But he made it clear that his opinion is the minority one among those who make these decisions, so it seems he just wants to ensure that the current rule — since it impacts points scored and could potentially decide games, as it did in Portland — gets interpreted correctly, with the benefit of a second look if the situation should warrant it.

But when is that, exactly? Stern said that there’s a growing sentiment to make these types of plays reviewable only in the last two minutes of a game. The problem there is, of course, the fact that doing so might send a conflicted message.

“It’s ironic with how many of our fans would be satisfied in doing more just in the last two minutes,” Stern said. “And that’s something that we sort of resisted, but we’re getting pulled along. Because it counts the same in the first two minutes as the last, and we counsel our officials that a foul’s a foul (no matter when it occurs). And sort of saying, ‘oh yes, but the last two minutes is different,’ is sort of an interesting route.

“But, it’s true.  Our fans are saying the last two minutes should be treated differently. So we’re going to look at it, and see what’s going on.”

Stern talked about a system where coaches could throw a challenge flag similar to the way replay is handled in the NFL, but discounted it at the same time, pointing out that it places an unfair disadvantage on the team that just got the ball and is heading down the court in transition.

So that won’t be happening, and apparently, a complete change where the league does away with the current rule altogether won’t be happening, either. But goaltending seems to be an area that the league has focused on, and it will likely be a topic that finds its way into the instant replay system in the very near future.

Markell Fultz takes ugly pump-fake free throw

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A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?

Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.

Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice:

Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.

But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.

LeBron James: ‘I almost cracked’ with Lakers’ slow start

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LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.

How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬

LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.

If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.

So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.

Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.

Dwyane Wade: Making Carmelo Anthony ‘fall guy’ doesn’t address the ‘real problem’

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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – the banana-boat buddies – comprise the NBA’s most famous friendship group.

With Anthony nearing his end with the Rockets, that puts Houston teammate Paul in an awkward place. But Wade and LeBron are speaking up. So are the Trail Blazers’ Evan Turner and Damian Lillard.

Wade:

LeBron:

Evan Turner:

Damian Lillard:

It’s unclear whether Wade is scolding the Rockets or fans/media. That comment is far more loaded if he’s referring directly to the organization. I wonder what he sees at the “real problem” in Houston.

A struggling team waiving a minimum-salary player is rarely viewed as making that player the scapegoat. But Anthony has an outsized reputation due to his long, star-level career. With that in mind, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to defend Anthony.

But Anthony is a part of Houston’s problems. He’s awful defensively and shooting poorly. There is mounting evidence he’s washed up. Downgrading his role, whether or not that includes waiving him, is a step in the right direction for the Rockets.

It won’t solve everything, and Anthony – after all that he has done in the NBA – should be treated with respect. But there’s no way around his substandard current level of play.

Report: Jimmy Butler planned to hold out from Timberwolves unless traded, informing team during Friday’s game

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According to one narrative, the Timberwolves decided after Friday’s loss to the Kings to trade Jimmy Butler.

But he might have forced their hand, resulting in his trade to the 76ers.

Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Butler decided he would play on Friday night, but he viewed it as the fork in the road. If the Timberwolves didn’t find a deal to fulfill his long-simmering trade request after that, he would begin to sit indefinitely, league sources told The Athletic.

The Kings defeated Minnesota 121-110 to push the Timberwolves to 4-9 and a winless road trip; Butler had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 41 minutes. He had played almost 124 minutes in the last three games, all losses, and at halftime of the final one, the Wolves were informed that this was it for Butler, sources said.

Butler reportedly held out for a game a couple weeks ago, though he and Minnesota both denied it. It’s quite believable he would’ve held out again if not traded. Still, informing the team during a game he’s playing would have been quite bold.

I’m not sure who actually blinked first. This could be an I-quit, no-you’re-fired (or vice versa) scenario. Both Butler and Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau are stubborn.

But the most important thing is Butler is gone and both sides can move on – whatever ugliness preceded the trade.