NBA Players union to file grievance over new flopping rules

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When asked, players generally have been supportive of the new NBA anti-flopping rules and fines that were announced by the league office on Wednesday. Because they all think they have been victimized by floppers (but would never do it themselves).

The players’ union, not so happy.

The union has filed a grievance with the league over the regulations, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times.

It’s not really a huge shock — the union’s job is to protect the players and their paychecks, and they see this as a threat. There are legit questions about an appeal process and why the league gets the power here.

Bottom line, David Stern had a competition committee that discussed rule changes and things that included flopping, then the owners voted on those changes, and this didn’t come out of that process. This came unilaterally out of the league. You can like the intent but the league did not follow traditional or mandated process.

Plus, if you think the Billy Hunter and the union are going to pass up an opportunity to tweak Stern, you have not been paying attention the past 18 months.

Here is the direct quote from the union’s release:

NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter stated that, “The NBA is not permitted to unilaterally impose new economic discipline against the players without first bargaining with the union. We believe that any monetary penalty for an act of this type is inappropriate and without precedent in our sport or any other sport. We will bring appropriate legal action to challenge what is clearly a vague and arbitrary overreaction and overreach by the Commissioner’s office.”

But frankly, in the end this isn’t a bad set of rules for the union. For one, the union has to realize flopping rose to the forefront as an issue during the playoffs and the league needed to act. Flopping is and was damaging the league’s image. Second, the fines here are not that severe.

The union may have questions over how the rule will be enforced. We all do. Someone will argue that every close block/charge call was embellished and deserves a fine. The more likely outcome is only the most egregious calls lead to fines and the players will learn to walk that line.

While the union may not like them, the players seem to back the new regulations. Look what some Lakers told Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated at Wednesday’s practice.

“Shameless flopping is … a chump move,” Kobe Bryant said. “We’re familiar with it. Vlade kind of pioneered it in the playoff series against Shaq [as a member of the Kings in the early 2000s].

“I’d love to see it have an impact on the game itself,” Bryant said. “[In] international play, technical fouls are the penalty for it, you get free throws, get the ball back and that sort of thing. I like the rule, though….”

“Back in the 80s, they didn’t flop,” Metta World Peace said. “It’s very annoying … It’s not fair to the guys who have worked on their body all these years and got stronger. It’s not fair. Flopping is very stupid. It’s not even basketball. I don’t know who taught people how to flop. Just make the right call. It’s that simple.”

I can’t wait to read the quotes the first time a guy gets fined for this. Part of the league’s goal is to have the public fines be a deterrent (the fine itself is not way out of line, but the perception could change behavior).

This is just not going to play out smoothly, that may be the only sure thing about the flopping rule.

Pascal Siakam scores 37, Raptors remain red hot with win vs. Suns

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TORONTO (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 37 points and 12 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors beat the Phoenix Suns 118-101 on Friday night for their 16th victory in 17 games.

Serge Ibaka scored 16 points, Fred VanVleet and Terence Davis each had 14, Kyle Lowry had 13 points and 10 assists and OG Anunoby aded 12 points for the defending NBA champion Raptors.

After Toronto’s franchise-record 15-game winning streak ended with a loss at Brooklyn in the final game before the All-Star break, the Raptors bounced back by starting the second half with their eighth consecutive home victory.

The Raptors have not lost back-to-back games since an overtime loss at Indiana on Dec. 23 and a home loss to Boston on Christmas Day. Toronto has gone 19-1 since.

Siakam connected on 12 of 19 attempts, going 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

That was just one fewer than the six 3-pointers the Suns managed on 34 attempts. Phoenix shot 17.6%t from long range, its lowest mark of the season. No Suns player made more than one shot from distance.

Devin Booker scored 21 points and Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix. The Suns lost for the seventh time in nine games.

Ayton returned to the starting lineup after missing the final two games before the All-Star break because of a sore left ankle.

Phoenix trailed 93-78 through three quarters, but the Suns cut the gap to six points, 96-90 on a basket by Ayton with 8:08 left to play. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made a pair from the line, and VanVleet and Siakam both scored to put the Raptors up 102-90 with 6:58 remaining.

Booker missed a 3 with 4:45 left that would have made it a four-point game. Anunoby scored on a dunk and, after another missed 3 by the Suns, Ibaka banked home a 3-pointer to restore Toronto’s 12-point cushion.

Moe Harkless says no buyout with Knicks: “I’ll be here the rest of the year”

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Moe Harkless went from a guy often starting and playing critical minutes for a contender in the Clippers to being the matching salary in a trade and finding himself on the woeful Knicks.

“It is definitely an adjustment with the way things are,” Harkless told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Everything is different, the culture and everything.”

If there was a player nobody would blame for wanting a buyout and the chance to get back to a team playing for something, it would be Harkless.

That’s not happening. Multiple reports have surfaced that he is not talking buyout with New York running up to the March 1 deadline. The latest comes from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Then Harkless was even more direct speaking to Bondy.

“I’ll be here the rest of the year,” he said.

Harkless has fans in NBA front offices, with the Lakers rumored to be among them (although they are about to land Markieff Morris in a similar role). Harkless could play good defensive minutes on the wing down the stretch for a team, buying rest for key guys, plus in the playoffs he could be advantageous in certain matchups.

Morris and the Knicks have time to change their minds, but it sounds like he will play out the season in New York then be a free agent next summer.

Lakers reportedly will waive DeMarcus Cousins to clear roster spot

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If the Lakers are going to add Markieff Morrisas has been rumored — or anyone else via free agency, they are going to need to clear out a roster spot.

That has the Lakers looking to waive DeMarcus Cousins, a report broken by Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Cousins signed with the Lakers over the summer but never set foot on the court with them after tearing his ACL during summer workouts (which led to a scramble and L.A.’s fortuitous signing of Dwight Howard). He was around the team and rehabbing, and while they would never officially rule him out, Cousins was never expected to play.

He was not waived before because his $3.5 million salary might have been useful in a trade. When that didn’t materialize at the deadline it, became likely he could get waived.

It’s highly unlikely a team picks up Cousins this season, while he continues to rehab from his injury. However, it might be a good roll of the dice this summer by a team to sign him to a minimum contract for next season. Cousins still has some NBA basketball in him, if he can just stay healthy.

Karl-Anthony Towns has fractured wrist, to be re-evaluated in two weeks

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Karl-Anthony Towns was a surprise scratch from the Timberwolves last game before the All-Star break, a “left wrist injury” delaying the home debut of him with D'Angelo Russell (they did play a road game together in Toronto). Then came the rumors he could miss a few games when play started up again.

It’s going to be more than a few games, more than a few weeks.

Towns has a fractured left wrist, the team announced Friday. He is out and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. From the team press release:

“While Towns has been diligent in treatment with a goal of return to play, he has been assessed by multiple specialists over the last several days and the team continues to gather information on the optimal management strategies.”

Towns had been playing through wrist pain for a couple of weeks before this diagnosis.

Towns is having a career year on offense, averaging  26.5 points a game while shooting 41 percent from three (on 7.9 attempts per game), plus grabbing 10.8 rebounds a night. That has not translated into wins for Minnesota, however.

Towns being out doesn’t hurt the Timberwolves in the short term, they have fallen far out of the playoff chase in the West. However, this cuts into time Towns and Russell could have used to grow accustomed to each other’s games. It’s time lost for the coaching staff and front office as they evaluate the fit of players they have around Towns and Russell.