Adam Silver wants to see changes to flailing, Hack-a-Shaq rules; defends Two Minute Reports

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OAKLAND — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to see improvement in the NBA’s officiating.

Just probably not the changes many of you want to see.

Thursday night he defended the NBA’s officiating, the Two Minute Reports, and said he still hopes to push through a change to end Hack-a-Shaq.

“I’d say largely what these Last Two-Minute Reports are showing is that the referees get it right about 90 percent of the time,” Silver said in a press conference before Game 1 of the NBA Finals tipped off from Oracle. “Now, from a fan standpoint, the other side of the coin is so, in other words, they’re getting it wrong one out of 10 calls? And I accept that.

“So to your ultimate question, how do I feel about the officiating? My feeling is I’d like that to be 100%. I’d love to get zero errors. I don’t think we’re ever going to be there.”

Because it’s never going to be there so long as humans are involved — and fans of opposing teams are always going to see close calls differently — what Silver continues to preach is transparency.

“We’re in the second year of our Last Two-Minute Reports, and I still remain strongly behind them,” Silver said. “Now, I understand the criticism from some of the teams that, ‘What’s the point? Why are you telling the world that this call was decided incorrectly? May have gone in our favor, may not have. Nothing can be done about it after the fact.’

“My view, first of all, in terms of building confidence in the public, they want to see consistency. So they want to understand if we call something a foul, why we called it a foul, and we often give explanations for why we believe something was a foul, whether it was correctly called or incorrectly called. So it’s our hope that you take the Last Two-Minute Reports together with using a certain amount of replay that we’re building to build trust and integrity in the league.”

How much trust the league can build in a social media world is up for debate. Silver, as is his nature, is open to discussing just about anything.

“I had a team come in the other day and say we should look at a fourth official,” Silver said. “And that goes to the core of your question. Maybe the game is so fundamentally different now that we maybe do need to look at a fourth official. So that’s something maybe through our Development League or Summer Leagues that we’ll take a fresh look at.”

That the league is talking about these things now — and putting out the officiating reports — is an improvement over the Soviet-style denial and lack of information that had been the NBA’s modus operandi for many years. More information is a good thing, even if reasonable people can disagree about how a call was seen.

Silver wants to see some officiating and rule changes. That starts with hack-a-Shaq.

“I think you all know it is my hope that we are not far away from some reform,” Silver said. “This is an issue where I’m hoping we can strike some sort of a compromise. I mean, there is no doubt that there are particular teams, particular owners who have spoken out against any change whatsoever. And I also recognize from a competitive standpoint that largely three teams will be the beneficiary of a rule change. There’s three players in particular, and everyone knows who I’m talking about, and whatever team they’re on, if they’re going to play a lot of minutes and they’re poor free throw shooters, the ability to hack them away from the ball creates an advantage for the other team….

“What we’ve seen even since last year is a two and a half times increase off last year of the number of these off-ball fouls, away-from-the-ball fouls, intentional fouls. Looking back just even at the last five years, it’s now up 16 times from five years ago.”

It has become a common strategy, and it is something both fans and the NBA’s broadcasters do not like or want. You know, the broadcasters about to start paying a lot more money for the rights to show NBA games.

“I’ve said it before, for example, when Hack-a-Shaq has done something like more than roughly ten times a game, it adds about 15 minutes to the length of the game,” Silver said. “Not only is that something that is bad for our network partners, but for all of the fan research we have shows that the fans hate it. You know, so there may be a compromise in there where we can cut it down significantly.”

The other officiating change will be a new enforcement on flailing, something that has become a hot topic in the playoffs ever since Draymond Green kicked Steven Adams in the nether regions in the Western Conference Finals.

“So in terms of the flailing, and we’re seeing a lot more late kicks and, frankly, players flailing their arms as well, it’s clear what they’re doing. They’re trying to sell calls. They’re trying to make contact,” Silver said. “They’re trying to demonstrate that they’re getting fouled on particular plays. It’s not something new in the league, but as we track it, it’s becoming more prevalent….

“It’s not something we want to see. In terms of flagrant fouls and potential suspensions, one of the things we look at is the intent of the players. Obviously it’s very difficult to discern intent. We want to find a way to discourage players from flailing….

“We’ve been talking about it throughout the season. Obviously (there is) a very controversial play that you just mentioned, and it’s on the agenda for the Competition Committee when we meet this summer.”

The competition committee is going to be very busy this summer.

Hawks’ Collins out weeks with sprained ankle, Hunter also at least a week

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ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks will be without both of their starting forwards for at least the next three games.

John Collins will miss at least the next two weeks with a sprained left ankle and De'Andre Hunter will be sidelined for at least one week with a right hip flexor strain, the Hawks said Thursday.

Both departed with injuries during Wednesday night’s win over Orlando. Hunter played only seven minutes and Collins was hurt after a dunk that didn’t count at the halftime buzzer.

Hunter is third on the Hawks in scoring at 14.9 points per game, and Collins is fourth at 12.3 points.

Hunter, a fourth-year player out of Virginia, has yet to play a full season because of various injuries.

Draymond Green wants to play 4-5 more years, ideally with Warriors, not stressed about contract

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Jordan Poole got a contract extension from the Warriors this summer. So did Andrew Wiggins.

Draymond Green did not — and he punched Poole and was away from the team for a time.

All this has led to speculation about the future of Green in Golden State. He has a $27.6 million player option for next season, but he could become a free agent this summer. With the Warriors’ payroll through the roof — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are on max extensions, Poole and Wiggins just got paid, and contract extensions for Jonathan Kuminga and the rest of the young players are coming — there are questions about how long Green will be in the Bay Area.

In an open and honest interview with Marc Spears of ESPN’s Andscape, Green talked about everything from his relationship with Poole after the punch to his future. Here are a few highlights:

“I want to play another four or five more years. That would be enough for me.”

“You can look around the NBA right now. There are five guys that’s been on a team for 11 years-plus. We have three of them [along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson]. It’s a very rare thing. There’s 470, 480 players in the NBA? There are five guys that’s been with his team for 11 years plus. That’s amazing. So, you don’t just give that away. So, absolutely I’d be interested in that.”

On rumors he wants to play with LeBron James and the Lakers: “I never said that. People can say what they want. I’m also not really one to react much to what one may say. I react to things when I want to react to it. I don’t react to things just because somebody said it.”

Is he worried about his next contract: “No, not at all. I have a great agent [Rich Paul]. The best agent in the business. That’s why you align yourself with an incredible agent, because they handle the business. I play basketball. That’s what I want.”

I don’t doubt there is mutual interest in Green staying with the Warriors, the question is at what price. It’s not a max. As for the threat of him bolting, Green is still an elite defender and secondary playmaker, but it’s fair to wonder what the free agent market would look like for him. Green is not the scoring threat he once was, and his unique skill set is not a plug-and-play fit with every roster and system (does he really fit on the Lakers, for example).

The conventional wisdom around the league right now is that Green will opt into the final year of his contract with the Warriors — especially if they make another deep playoff run — because that level of money is not out there for him. That said, it only takes one owner to fall in love with the idea and send his GM out to get the deal done. The market may be there for him after all, or he may be open to the security of three or four years with another team but at a lower per-year dollar amount.

Green also talks about his relationship with Poole in the Q&A and makes it sound professional and business-like. Which is all it has to be, but it’s not the “playing with joy” model the Warriors are built upon.

 

Lakers reportedly leaning toward packaging Beverley, Nunn in trade

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While the Lakers have looked better of late winning 6-of-8 with a top-10 offense and defense in the league in that stretch, plus Anthony Davis continues to play at an All-NBA level at center.

That run — which still has Los Angeles sitting 13th in the West — came against a soft part of the schedule (three wins against the Spurs, for example), and is about to get tested with a few weeks of tougher games, starting with the suddenly healthy Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. While the Lakers have been better, nobody is watching them and thinking “contender.” Are they even a playoff team?

Which is why the Lakers are still in the market for trades. But Jovan Buha reports at The Athletic the Lakers realize moving Russell Westbrook and his $47 million may not happen, so they are focused more on a smaller deal moving Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn (with maybe a pick) to bring back quality role players to round out the roster).

The Lakers are leaning toward [a Nunn/Beverley trade] at this point, the team sources said. That would entail making a smaller move to marginally upgrade the roster while retaining the possibility of following up with a larger Westbrook deal later in the season…

Beverley ($13 million) and Nunn ($5.3 million) are both underperforming relative to their contracts. With the Lakers’ needs for additional size on the wing and a better complimentary big next to Anthony Davis, along with the roster’s glut of small guards, Beverley and/or Nunn are expendable. Packaged together, the Lakers could acquire a player or players in the $20 million range.

Trading Nunn and Beverley lines up with a couple of good options from the Lakers’ perspective. For example, the salaries work to get Bojan Bogdanovic out of Detroit, or it matches up with a deal for Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson out of San Antonio. However, neither the Pistons nor Spurs care much about adding veteran guards on expiring contracts in Nunn and Beverley, so it’s going to require the Lakers throwing in one of their first-round picks unprotected (2027 or 2029) and maybe a second-rounder to get it done. (With how well the Pacers are playing, it’s not a sure thing that a Myles Turner/Buddy Hield trade is still available.) The Spurs trade may be more appealing to the Lakers because Richardson and Poeltl are expiring contracts, so it doesn’t change the Lakers’ plans to use cap space to chase bigger names this offseason (Bogdanovic was recently given a two-year, $39.1 million extension).

These may not be the “move us into contender range” blockbuster Rob Pelinka and the front office hoped was out there, but either of those trades would make the Lakers better. It could move them into playoff-team status, and considering LeBron James turns 38 at the end of the month they can’t waste a year and retool next offseason.

The Lakers have made a number of miscalculations over the years, but they are all-in with this group now and have to find a way to maximize it, even if the cost is a little painful.

Khris Middleton reportedly set to return to Bucks Friday vs. Lakers

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The Milwaukee Bucks are about to get better. Likely a lot better.

Which should worry the rest of the league because the Bucks have looked like one of the two best teams in the Association this season: A 15-5 record with the best defense in the NBA and an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Now they are about to get Khris Middleton back.

Middleton — the Bucks Olympian and All-Star forward — is set to make his season debut Friday night against the Lakers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN. Middleton had been recovering from wrist surgery.

Middleton averaged 20.1 points and 5.4 rebounds and assists per game last season. More importantly in Milwaukee, Middleton is the hub of the Bucks’ halfcourt offense — he is the ball handler in the pick-and-roll at the end of games, asked to create for himself and others in the clutch (with Antetokounmpo working off the ball and sometimes setting picks). Without him so far this season, the Bucks’ halfcourt offense has struggled, ranked 21st in the NBA this season in points per possession (via Cleaning the Glass). Overall the Bucks have a middle-of-the-pack offense because of it.

That is about to change.

While Mike Budenholzer will ease him back into the rotation as he gets his wind back, having Middleton back makes the Bucks much more dangerous. Which is bad news for the rest of the NBA.