NBA updates media access rules for 2013-14 season

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We understand that the casual fan probably doesn’t care how often players and coaches are formally made to be available to the media throughout the course of the season, or how long reporters have to wait after games to speak to a team’s star players.

But it affects the coverage you’ll receive, especially from guys who are on hard and fast newspaper-mandated deadlines. So it’s worth delving into a bit with training camps still about 10 days away.

The NBA has revised its policies in these areas in time for the 2013-14 season, and overall, the changes should result in more relevant access to players, albeit a little less frequently.

From Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press:

“It was time to take a fresh look,” NBA senior vice president of communications Tim Frank said. “We’ve basically had the same rules for 30-plus years and with the changing media landscape it was clear there were redundancies and we needed to adjust.”

The old rules required players to be available at the morning shootaround and before the game, though most picked only one and some did neither. Now, they can choose one, but if their team doesn’t hold a morning workout, they will be required to be available at pregame if requested.

Players frequently didn’t talk when injured, and in the case of recent late-season injuries to Derrick Rose and Kevin Garnett, their teams’ seasons ended before they ever spoke to reporters after getting hurt. The new rules require a player with a long-term injury to meet with the media within a week of the diagnosis, if medically possible, and speak once a week after he returns to practice, even if he hasn’t resumed playing in games.

These two changes are big, in that star players often wouldn’t talk to media before games. Now they have to on days with no shootaround — at least according to the new policy. As always, some teams are more cooperative in this regard than are others.

The stipulation involving injured players is particularly of interest, and is likely in direct response to how the whole Derrick Rose situation was handled in Chicago last season. Rose spoke to reporters rarely during his recovery, although the team was more to blame for the hysteria surrounding his potential return than was the player.

Other changes include coaches being required to be available to media 10 minutes following a game’s conclusion, which I can tell you from experience doesn’t always happen, especially after a particularly tough loss. Players are also now supposed to be available within 45 minutes following a game — something that easily could have been dubbed The Carmelo Anthony Rule for the ridiculously long time he takes after games before speaking with reporters.

It’ll be interesting to see how this is all enforced, but overall, the league does a great job of providing plenty of access to its teams so that the local and national media each have a wealth of opportunity to provide comprehensive coverage.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.