LOS ANGELES: Of all the players around the league with the reputation as floppers, it was Cavs guard Donald Sloan — the former amateur boxer — who was among the first cited by the league under its new crackdown on flopping.
Sloan learned Monday afternoon the league warned him and Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea. Sloan’s incident came late in the Cavs’ loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday when he collided with Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, flailed his arms out and twirled to the ground.
The video released by the league appears to be a clear case of flopping, but Sloan disagreed with the decision.
“I tried to cut [Hinrich] off while the other guy [Nazr Mohammed] tried to set a screen,” Sloan said. “[Hinrich] bumped me when he went behind his back and I tripped over his foot. I thought, ‘OK, they’ve got to call a charge or illegal screen or something.’ But they didn’t.”
Sloan threw his arms out in disgust that there wasn’t a call, but he thinks it was the arm flailing that convinced the league he was flopping.
Sloan said he and the coaches had a good laugh over it, but it won’t be so funny if it happens again. A second violation carries a $5,000 fine. Sloan is making about $750,000 this season, but his contract isn’t guaranteed.
“I can’t afford $5,000,” he said.
The league investigated the Cavs’ complaint that the clock started late at the end of their loss Saturday night to the Milwaukee Bucks, but NBA spokesman Tim Frank said there was no malfunction at the end of the game.
The Cavaliers are adamant the clock should’ve started running sooner when Brandon Jennings caught the inbounds pass with seven-tenths of a second remaining. When the Cavs slowed down the replay, they determined Jennings was able to catch the ball, drop it below his waist, leave his feet and raise the ball above his head before the clock started running.
There is always a little leeway with the shot clock and game clock for human reaction. It’s impossible for the clock to start the exact instant a player catches the pass, so the league typically gives a leeway of about two-tenths to four-tenths of a second for the clock to begin. Clearly, in this instance, they believe the clock started appropriately.
But there was at least a shred of good news: coach Byron Scott won’t be fined for complaining about the clock starting late.
Scott said he hasn’t spoken to any players about the importance of today’s election and whether or not they voted. He prefers to keep politics and religious beliefs out of the locker room.
“I don’t talk to guys about voting, I don’t talk to guys about their religious beliefs,” he said. “Now if they come to me and ask me a question, obviously, I’m going to give them an answer.”
Scott voted early before this trip started. Tyler Zeller and Jon Leuer were among the players who voted early.
Irving vs. Paul
Monday’s game against the Clippers was the first meeting between Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul. Irving missed the only meeting between the two teams last season because of a concussion.
The comparisons between the two players began before Irving was even drafted. Scott coached Paul in New Orleans and the two developed a deep bond that still exists. Now Irving and Scott are creating that same type of relationship.
Scott often refers to Paul as a “silent assassin” and puts him in the same category as Kobe Bryant in terms of competitive spirit. Irving has some of those characteristics, but he’s not in that same category yet.
“At times you see it come out,” Scott said. “He wants to take that last shot. There’s no doubt in his mind, he has the ultimate confidence he’s going to make it or make something happen. In that sense, he has that in him. Those guys (Paul and Bryant) have just a little bit more of it and it’s not just for last-second shots, it’s for the entire game.”