Referees call for NBA to end Last Two Minute Reports

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver defended Last Two Minute Reports, and I’m firmly behind him.

Transparency? Good.

Accountability? Good.

Better informing fans? Good.

The National Basketball Referees Association? Um…

That union took a different approach:

NBRA POSITION ON THE CURRENT L2M REPORTING POLICY

Position The NBRA believes the league’s actions to promote so-called transparency will cause more harm than good for the officials and the game. We call for an end to L2M reporting and other transparency measures and a return to private, league-managed evaluations, reviews, education, training, and discipline for NBA officials.

Should the NBA reject the NBRA’s call and press forward with L2M reporting, it is critical that the current process be reformed to improve its accuracy and minimize the damage and divisiveness it is causing.

Reasons to End L2M Reporting and Other “Transparency” Measures

• Transparency does nothing to change the outcome of the game.

• Transparency encourages anger and hostility towards NBA officials.

• Focusing on officiating statistics encourages stat-oriented, versus game-oriented, officiating. It is in the best interest of the NBA and its fans to encourage and develop game-oriented referees that balance game flow and fair play.

• Efforts to promote transparency have encouraged the idea that perfection in officiating is possible. Perfection is neither possible nor desirable; if every possible infraction were to be called, the game would be unwatchable and would cease to exist as a form of entertainment in this country.

• Transparency has been misused as a catalyst by some teams to mobilize fans against the officials in an attempt to coerce more favorable treatment.

• While the goal of transparency was to promote understanding and credibility, there is no evidence that progress against these goals is being made.

Key Concerns/Questions About the Current Process

1. Who in NBA Referee Operations is evaluating the game footage and writing the initial L2M reports, and what are their qualifications?

2. Who at NBA League Operations is actually reviewing and editing the L2M reports, and what qualifications do they have to evaluate and change the reports prior to their being released? What is the reasoning behind those changes?

3. Are the reviewers applying the same league-directed guidelines and instructions related to rules interpretation as the referees on the court are?

4. Why does NBA League Operations have the final word on reviews? Why can’t those decisions be challenged?

Recommended Process Reforms (if NBA continues L2M reporting)

1. Increase L2M Process Transparency

Identify the individuals reviewing and editing reports and reveal their qualifications to do so. Only people with extensive officiating experience should be in a position to review on-court decisions.

2. Interpret Rules Consistently

Referees are instructed by the league on how to interpret the rules, and it is critical that L2M reporting follow those same interpretations. It is not uncommon to see L2M review comments contradict directions/guidelines given to the game officials.

3. Establish An Appeal Process

L2M reports represent only a single perspective on a particular play, and those judgments are not infallible. A forum to question/challenge an L2M report decision will encourage dialogue that will enhance fan understanding and ensure that everyone involved benefits from valuable learning and insight.

I agree with the referee union’s key concerns and questions. In the name of transparency, the NBA should address that. I even agree with the recommended process reforms. The Last Two Minute Reports should acknowledge gray areas in officiating, though the league and officials should try to make as much as possible black and white.

Which leads to where I think the union is really off its rocker:

Perfection is neither possible nor desirable; if every possible infraction were to be called, the game would be unwatchable and would cease to exist as a form of entertainment in this country.

Perfection isn’t desirable? Are you kidding?

That’s a joke of a contention, one designed to protect referees from consequences for missed calls.

Perfect is absolutely desirable.

It’s not possible, but if you’re not even interested in trying for it, what are you doing? Miss a call… no big deal, wasn’t trying to get ’em all right.

The rules should be written to handle the game the way the league wants it handled. If enforcing the rules as written would make the game unwatchable, the rules should be rewritten. It’s not on the officials to create their own code different from the rule book.

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

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers
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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.