Three Things to Know: Rule knowledge, plus Devin Booker, gets Suns dramatic win

Associated Press

Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Devin Booker is back, but coach Jay Triano’s rulebook knowledge gets Suns dramatic win. There is no goaltending on an inbounds pass. Offensive or defensive. How can there be, it’s not a shot — you can’t score on it (even if it goes through the basket). So if the ball is over the cylinder of the basket on an inbounds pass, you can grab it.

Did you know that? Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff clearly didn’t (watch his reaction to the play below). However, Suns coach Jay Triano did, so with 0.6 seconds left he drew up a play that called for a lob and veteran Tyson Chandler finished the alley-oop as the ball was over the rim, giving the Suns a 99-97 win over Memphis.

That was a great pass by Dragan Bender to make that alley-oop possible. Memphis put Marc Gasol on Bender at the inbounds, which left the not-as-strong Brandan Wright to try to defend Chandler around the basket, and while Wright is more athletic than Gasol he did not have the strength to move Chandler out of the one position he needed to be in to finish the play and the game.

That play is not why the Grizzlies lost. Memphis missed its last 11 shots from the field and went almost six minutes without a bucket in the fourth quarter, that is what cost them the game.

That and Devin Booker. The Suns’ guard was back after missing nine games due to a left adductor strain and he didn’t miss a beat, scoring 20 points in the first half and 32 for the game (he had fouled out before that final play, or maybe it is run for him, you can do a catch-and-shoot in .6 seconds by the NBA rulebook). The Suns are a lot more fun to watch with Booker on the court.

2) Worst in the West beats best in the East? Dallas upsets Toronto. For a day, the Toronto Raptors were on top of the East. Toronto had won six straight and 12-of-13, while the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers both lost on Christmas Day. That left Toronto as the team on top of the East with a .742 winning percentage.

Then they traveled to 9-25 Dallas.

Maybe the Raptors were looking ahead to a showdown with the Thunder Wednesday night, but they were flat and ran into a Mavericks team that isn’t winning a lot but has been feisty and in games lately. The Mavs don’t get blown out. Dallas hung around this one despite Kyle Lowry looking like he would just take over for a stretch (but he missed crucial shots down the stretch). When DeMar DeRozan tried to take over late, he just looked flat (like Toronto did all night).

Dallas got 20 points out of J.J. Barea off the bench, and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 because that’s what he does, to lead the Mavericks. Dallas is going to end up with a high draft pick, but they are not tanking and just throwing in the towel on the season, they are playing gritty basketball.

3) Ejection night: Nikola Jokic gets tossed, as do Kris Dunn and Khris Middleton. Welcome to the night of the “why did he do that?” ejections.

First up is Denver’s Nikola Jokic. He was running down the court when Utah’s Jonas Jerebko bumped him. That happens just about every play. However, Jokic decides to respond with an NFL-style swim move to get around Jerebko, and in the process elbows the Jazz big man in the face.

For a couple of seasons now NBA officials have cracked down on any blows to the head. Intentional or not, they are not allowed and lead to an instant ejection. Jokic earned this one.

However, that was not the most idiotic move leading to an ejection of the night.

There were 22 seconds left in the game and the Bulls were up by 9 and about to upset the Bucks. Milwaukee would take a last shot, Chicago would then dribble it out. But as the Bucks came down Khris Middleton elbows Kris Dunn a little trying to seal him and get position, Dunn then grabbed Middleton’s jersey, so Middleton threw another elbow at Dunn, then Dunn tackled him. Did we mention there were now 16.9 seconds left in a decided game?

Maybe they were arguing over the proper way to spell their first name, in which case Chris Paul should have gotten into it and ejected too, even though he wasn’t even playing in this game or on either of these teams. There will be fines for this, which is going to sting when it’s time to write the check because this was the definition of unnecessary.

Curry, frustrated with Poole, gets ejected for throwing mouthpiece into crowd

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Stephen Curry has been ejected three times in his NBA career, and each time the incident was mouthpiece related.

The latest came Wednesday night. With 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter of a tight game with the Grizzlies, Klay Thompson missed a floater, Donte DiVincenzo tipped the rebound out and kept it alive, Thomspon grabbed it and passed it to Poole out top to reset the offense, with Curry calling for the ball a few feet away from him. Instead, Poole jacked up a three like the shot clock was going to expire. The shot missed and Curry, out of frustration, threw his mouthpiece in the stands. That got him an automatic ejection.

“He knows he can’t make that mistake,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said postgame, via the Associated Press.

Poole had fun with Curry postgame, throwing his mouthpiece in the hallway.

“I did see that,” Curry said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s like one of those ‘too soon’ jokes. I was still hot. I was still hot.”

After the game, some fans tried to argue that, by NBA rules, Curry did not have to be ejected. The NBA rulebook specifically states that any “player who throws or kicks the ball directly into the stands with force” will be ejected, as will a player who throws “the ball or any object at an official.” The argument goes Curry didn’t throw his mouthpiece at an official. However, the rulebook also says a technical can be “assessed to any player on the court or anyone seated on the bench for conduct which, in the opinion of an official, is detrimental to the game,” and the league has said consistently in recent years that throwing a mouthpiece or anything into the crowd is detrimental to the game, penalized with a technical and automatic ejection. Maybe there should be more leeway with the enforcement of said rule, but Curry knew better.

The Warriors went on to get the win over their rivals from Memphis, the old guard held the new guard off again. But the next time these teams meet, the Warriors will need Curry on the court until the end of the game.

What will happen with Warriors biggest free agent this summer: Bob Myers

2022 Golden State Warriors Victory Parade & Rally
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

This summer, the Warriors have on their plate a couple of major decisions that could lead to free agency and change the course of the franchise. One is Draymond Green, who has a $27.6 million player option, didn’t get an extension he wanted with the team last summer (while Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins did), and could be the guy standing without a chair when the music stops. The Warriors can’t pay everyone.

The other free agent: general manager Bob Myers.

His is an even more complex and nuanced situation — will the Warriors make him the highest-paid executive in the league, and does Myers still want the job — that could be the latest sign that the dynastic Curry era in Golden State is coming to an end.

At the Athletic, Anthony Slater, Marcus Thompson II and Sam Amick break down the situation incredibly well in a story Warriors fans should read.

As the clock ticks and extension talks remain flat, many around Myers are wondering whether – and even predicting that – his days with the Warriors are about to run out…

For all the nuance that surrounds the situation, this much is clear: team and league sources, who like all of the sources in this story were granted anonymity so they could speak freely, say Myers believes he should be among the highest-paid front office executives in the league, if not the highest. He’s been the architect of four NBA title teams, was the lead recruiter in the Durant free agency signing, and has been the trusted conduit between players, coaches and ownership. Myers also has served as chief problem solver, the coolant in an ecosystem that periodically overheats…

Part of the equation for Myers, known for his deep conversations and intellectual curiosity, is the contemplation of what’s next. After more than a decade of building a dynasty, and managing it through the intensity of modern scrutiny, and living beneath the relentless pressure of the Warriors’ championship standard, might Myers be interested in a new challenge? Would it be better for him and his family to move on, build up another franchise away from the Golden State fish bowl? He walked away from a successful career as a player agent to become an NBA executive. Is it now time to leave the front office behind and try his hand in another industry?

While there are other layers, it’s always about the money.

The very top NBA executives make north of $10 million a season. While Warriors owner Joe Lacob has said Myers is one of the highest-paid general managers in the league, titles get fuzzy (and somewhat meaningless) around the league — many guys in Myers’ role have a president or VP title attached to their name. His pay relative to title can get bogged down in semantics that miss the basic “pay me” bottom line of this.

There are no straight lines and simple answers here, but if Myers gets paid like Daryl Morey or Masai Ujiri he is far more likely to stay. Even if he gets that money, how badly does Myers want to stay on for the final years of the Stephen Curry era and start rebuilding whatever comes next? Does he want to walk away? Hang around for a few years then take his leave?

More than whatever happens with Green, the Myers situation will signal what comes next for this era of the Warriors and what they may look like going forward. He is the ultimate architect. This is the biggest decision the Warriors have this offseason.

PBT Podcast: Rui Hachimura trade to Lakers and All-Star team


Rui Hachimura is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. That is a win for the Lakers front office — “Look! We’re doing something!” — but how much of a win was that for the Lakers? Does it change much of anything for them on the court?

That’s the first topic of this week’s PBT Podcast with Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and myself. Then we talk about the Orlando Magic and the return of Jonathan Isaac to the floor. Corey’s Jukebox ties together the Magic and the Phantom of the Opera.

From there, we dive into my selections for the NBA All-Star Game, both starters and reserves, and what can be done to liven up that game. Plus, who would you want to star as if you were in a movie?

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above (the Christmas games segment) or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at

Kyrie Irving still seeking contract extension, agent says “ball is in Nets” court


How many guaranteed years are the Nets — or any team — willing to give Kyrie Irving?

It will be one of the questions of this offseason (Irving is in the final year of his current contract). It was a question last offseason, too. Irving and the Nets talked extension last summer — how close they got depends upon who you ask — but after two years of issues the Nets refused to give Irving a long-term deal. They did give him permission to find a sign-and-trade, but after checking out the market, Irving opted into his $36.9 million player option for the season.

The latest buzz around the league is that with the Nets winning, Irving is likely to re-sign and stay in Brooklyn. Apparently, his agent is ready to talk extension again, as she made public through Chris Haynes at Bleacher Report.

“Around Kyrie and staying with the Nets? I have reached out to the Nets regarding this,” his agent Shetellia Irving told Bleacher Report. “We have had no significant conversations to date. The desire is to make Brooklyn home, with the right type of extension, which means the ball is in the Nets’ court to communicate now if their desire is the same.”

“The right type of extension” sounds like we’re back to talking about years. Brooklyn can offer Irving a four-year, $190+ million max extension (which would align with the extension Kevin Durant signed last summer). The Nets may not want to lock themselves into Irving for that long.

Would another team? The question isn’t money — on the court, Irving is a max player averaging 26.8 points per game and he is likely voted an All-Star starter when those are announced Thursday — but instead how long is a team willing to be locked into paying Irving?

The Nets and Irving can reach an extension up through June 30, Brooklyn management may not be in a rush to get a deal done while the team is still playing. Brooklyn would be wise to want to see how the postseason plays out before talking about next season and beyond with anyone.