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Nuggets remove Isaiah Thomas from rotation

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Isaiah Thomas, while stuck on a contract that underpaid him, finished fifth in MVP voting just two years ago.

His reward in free agency last summer: a minimum contract.

A hip injury kept Thomas out then ineffective then out again. He signed with the Nuggets hoping to reestablish his value, but he has missed most of this season. He has played nine games since debuting a month ago and has struggled.

Denver coach Michael Malone shortened his rotation during a win over the Timberwolves last night, and that meant a DNP-CD for Thomas.

Sean Keeler of The Denver Post:

Malone said he plans on keeping the rotation smaller down the final few weeks of the regular season, and had explained the rotation to Thomas, whom he’d previously coached in Sacramento, before the game.

“Oh, you definitely talk to him (about the decision), and I’ll keep that conversation between IT and myself,” Malone said. “(It’s) not an easy conversation, but that’s my job.”

“Obviously, 16 (regular-season) games to go, (we’re going to) try to find a rhythm,” said Malone, who didn’t play Thomas in the 26-point victory. “And a rotation that I feel gives us the best chance to win now, and into the playoffs.”

The Nuggets (44-22) are second in the Western Conference, 1.0 game behind the Warriors and 2.5 games ahead of the Rockets. An easier first-round matchup is important. Home-court advantage in later rounds is important. This is the time to push for the best possible seed.

That clearly means leaning on Monte Morris, who has emerged as one of the NBA’s best backup point guards.

On another team, Thomas might get more leeway to shake off his rust. But in Denver, Morris is such a clearly superior option.

Thomas plays a high-usage style, and his 5-foot-9 frame limits him defensively. So, when he’s shooting poorly, he’s especially destructive to his team. Thomas just hasn’t found his groove this season.

It’s unfortunate Thomas will again enter free agency facing immense doubts about his ability. He just didn’t have much opportunity to prove himself this season.

But this is what the Nuggets had to do. Thanks to Morris, they’re too good for a reclamation project right now.

DeMar DeRozan fined $25,000 for throwing ball at ref Scott Foster

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Many people would like to throw a basketball at NBA official Scott Foster — he’s not exactly the favorite of several NBA players. San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan got his chance to do exactly that this week, and he was promptly given a technical and a ejected from the game.

Now, the NBA has handed down discipline for DeRozan.

On Sunday morning, the NBA announced that they had fined DeRozan $25,000 for throwing a ball at Foster.

This comes in the wake of the brouhaha around the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers getting into a bit of a tussle involving Joel Embiid and Jared Dudley. Sunday morning, the NBA also fined Nets general manager Sean Marks $25,000 and suspended him for entering the referee locker room to argue about Embiid not being assessed a flagrant 2 foul.

Things are heating up in the NBA playoffs, and emotions are running high. No doubt the referees are doing their best, but it’s not been the most impressive performance by the boys in gray thus far.

The officials will continue to face criticism as the playoffs go on, but hopefully people will calm down and cooler heads will prevail from here on out. There’s no need to throw balls or rush into the officials’ locker rooms the way DeRozan and Marks have.

Nets GM Sean Marks gets suspended for going into ref’s locker room after Game 4

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Emotions are high as the playoffs move into the second week. Things got a little testy between the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night as Jared Dudley got in the face of Joel Embiid after the Sixers big man committed a hard foul on Jared Allen.

That caused Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler to respond to Dudley, who overreacted to a good, hard playoff foul by Embiid. The result of the fracas was an ejection for Butler and Dudley, and a flagrant 1 on embiid.

But apparently that’s not the end of the disciplinary process for the NBA.

Nets general manager Sean Marks went into the officials locker room after the game — no doubt to discuss what happened here — which is a big problem in the eyes of the league.

According to a release by the NBA, Marks has been suspended for one game without pay and has been fined $25,000.

Marks will be suspended for Game 5 between these two teams on April 23rd.

The playoffs are high-stakes, but Embiid blocking the crap out of somebody shouldn’t result in someone going crazy like Dudley did.

Philadelphia beat the Nets, 112-108.

Everyone’s hero is dad who pulls son away from Nets/76ers fracas (VIDEO)

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Fathers everywhere can relate to this one.

You set up a bonding experience with your son or daughter, one you hope will leave an impression on them and create a memory that will last a lifetime… for example, you get courtside seats, just behind the basket, for one of the first NBA playoff games in Brooklyn, ever.

Then everything hits the fan.

Joel Embiid commits a flagrant foul on Jarrett Allen, Jared Dudley rushes in and shoves Embiid to stand up for his teammate, Jimmy Butler runs in to shove Dudley on the same premise, and suddenly there is a wave of large professional athletes about to trample you and your son. So, you grab him, move onto the court, and get out of the way.

There were two fathers with the same thought, one on either side of the fracas that spills into the first row.

Well done Dads. Well done, indeed.

Andrew Bogut says he plans to return to Australian league next season

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Unable to find a new NBA contract for this season, Andrew Bogut went home. The Australia native signed to play for the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL, where Bogut ended up being the league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, leading the Kings on a deep playoff run.

When that run ended, the Golden State Warriors came calling, asking him to fill a role — a role that got much larger after DeMarcus Cousins tore his quad. Bogut has played well for the Warriors in the postseason, and there is a good chance Cousins will not be back in Golden State (the Warriors can only offer him a small raise off what he made this season, that likely will not be enough, even after the injury), so the Warriors may try to retain Bogut for next season.

However, Bogut says he is returning to Australia. Speaking to Matt Logue from the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, Bogut said he gave his word to the Kings he would return.

“The be all and end all is that I gave my word (to the Kings)… That is basically what it comes down to…

“Someone outside of the Warriors could offer me a deal that would be pretty lucrative and a decent one-year deal, but I’m sold and locked in on coming to the Sydney Kings again to try and better what we did last season.”

Saying you’ll walk away from a lot of money and actually doing it are two different things, but Bogut is a man who stands by his word. He probably returns to Sydney for next season.

When that season ends, however, don’t be shocked to see Bogut back somewhere in the NBA helping a team make a playoff run.