Isaiah Thomas Fined $25,000 For Making ‘Inappropriate Contact’ With Referee

The NBA had no sympathy for Isaiah Thomas’ run-in with a referee on Friday night.

In the second minute of the Washington Wizards’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Thomas was trapped by the defense and started to fall towards the sidelines. He ended up pushing a referee as he was escaping the defense’s trap and got ejected.

On Saturday, the league announced that Thomas had been fined $25,000 for the incident.

Could Thomas have avoided making contact with the official? That’s a good question. His push of the referee did seem excessive.

Thomas has now been fined twice in the past few weeks, as he also got fined for going into the stands to confront a Philadelphia 76ers fan.

January 4, 2020 by Larry Brown

10 NBA players off to a hot start

The NFL is the biggest and most-watched professional sports organization in North America each October and November. Nothing the NBA does will ever alter that reality. With that said, basketball diehards could legitimately claim the Association has been responsible for the better and more entertaining storylines between the two leagues since the start of the 2019-20 campaign. 

Stephen Curry is out indefinitely after suffering a broken hand in late October, and the Golden State Warriors plummeted to the basement of the Western Conference standings. LeBron James once again looks like the best overall player on the planet. The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t a complete disaster as of mid-November. Seemingly everybody has a take on load management and what it means for the NBA now and in the future. 

Association experts, observers and fans promised the most open and competitive season of the decade, and the league didn’t disappoint as Halloween decorations made way for Christmas lights and holiday music. Granted, not every player off to a hot start this fall will be in meaningful basketball games come April. Some even may be moved before the trade deadline. But at least a few are early contenders for honors such as Most Improved Player and Most Valuable Player, and a certain 24-year-old may finally be in the infancy of a long-awaited breakout year. 

Who is off to a hot start so far this season?

Trae Young 

Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young tallying five steals during a Nov. 8 loss to the Sacramento Kings was an aberration. To put it nicely, the 21-year-old remains a liability on defense and often appears disinterested with that aspect of playing. Young also made history, per Hawks PR, by becoming the first player to ever notch at least 38 points, nine assists and seven boards across his team’s opening two regular-season contests. He drained 14-of-28 three-point attempts in four October games, and he’s shooting over 46 percent from the field. With John Collins suspended for 25 games, Young is tasked with carrying Atlanta’s offensive burden more than at any previous point of his 90-game career.

Kyrie Irving 

Nobody who has followed Kyrie Irving’s career was shocked by the report from ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that claimed Irving lapsed “into a funk” and was responsible for an episode that left “everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it” during the Brooklyn Nets’ preseason trip to China. Irving likely will always be enigmatic off the court to those outside of his inner circle, but even his detractors located in Boston and Cleveland can’t ignore his scoring over the season’s first 10 games. Irving posted 29.7 PPG, roughly seven points better than his career average, over his first stretch of contests in Brooklyn colors. As Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News wrote, Irving set a franchise record by accumulating 222 points through Brooklyn’s first seven games. The one-time champion who grew up in New Jersey says he’s happy living and playing in the Big Apple. Time will tell. 

Gordon Hayward

Basketball, like life, is often unfair. For the first time since Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome and horrific leg injury minutes into the 2017-18 season debut, the 29-year-old showed glimpses he had located his previous All-Star form. Hayward averaged 18.9 PPG and career-bests in REB (7.1) and field-goal percentage (55.5) over eight appearances. On Nov. 5, Hayward torched the Cleveland Cavaliers for 39 points while going 17-of-20 from the field. He was back. Then he suffered a broken hand on Nov. 9. That latest setback will sideline him for at least six weeks, according to Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press. 

Tristan Thompson 

Tristan Thompson and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t get the memo the team is tanking. Thompson finished Cleveland’s 10th game of the season third on the team in scoring, and he averaged career highs in PPG (16.5), REB (11.4) and BLK (1.4) over those outings. He’s even making threes for the first time in his pro career!
The 28-year-old is out of contract following the campaign, and the rebuilding Cavs have little reason to consider paying him beyond that deal. Thus, Thompson is auditioning for would-be contenders between now and Dec. 15 when offseason signees become trade-available.  
New Cleveland head coach John Beilein deserves praise for guiding a lackluster roster to a 4-6 start. The franchise nevertheless cannot exist in a state of denial. Thompson is currently worth more on the market than in the Cavs lineup. 

Thomas Bryant 

The Washington Wizards lost six of their first eight games en route to what is practically guaranteed to be a woeful season but center Thomas Bryant was one bright spot. The former Los Angeles Lakers castoff hit the 20-point mark in three of those eight outings, and he converted at least 60 percent of his attempts in three straight games from Nov. 4 through Nov. 8. Bryant began Nov. 13 averaging 2.3 BLK, 11.3 defensive rebounds and 14.8 total rebounds per 100 team possessions. If he can get back to his 33.3 percent three-point shooting from a season ago (he was at 26.1 percent after eight games), he can evolve into more than just a stat compiler for an awful team. 

Aron Baynes

During the 2019 FIFA World Cup , Boston Celtics salary cap casualty and Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes shot 52.4 percent (11-21) from beyond the arc while averaging 11.4 PPG and 5.5 REB. The 32-year-old carried that form over to the start of the NBA season. In 10 games, nine starts, Baynes averaged career-highs in PPG (16.2), REB (5.8), AST (3.1), BLK (0.9), three-point percentage (50.0), field goal percentage (59.0) and MIN (24.3). Guard Devin Booker is making those around him better en route to taking a necessary career leap, but Baynes is playing well enough to potentially keep Deandre Ayton a spectator once the 21-year-old serves his 25-game ban. 

Andre Drummond 

Can the Detroit Pistons win with Andre Drummond? The same question many within the basketball community asked on Oct. 1 hovers over the club in the middle of November. The 26-year-old center is good for 20 points and 20 rebounds whenever the mood strikes him. As of Nov. 13, nobody had scored more two-point field goals (reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had played in two fewer games heading into that evening), and Drummond led the Association in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, total boards, and total rebound percentage.  As Michael Pina of SB Nation explained, however, Drummond’s inconsistent efforts and obvious offensive limitations coupled with the fact the Pistons don’t have enough horses to make anything resembling a deep postseason run raise concerns about Drummond’s future. He can either test free agency next summer or exercise a player option worth over $28.7 million for 2020-21. As cruel as it is to suggest, the Pistons may require a top-tier team to lose a starter at Drummond’s position to move the big man before the trade deadline. Both player and club could benefit from such a transaction. 

Andrew Wiggins

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins was a punchline for much of his side’s season opener vs. the Brooklyn Nets, even though he made a couple of clutch shots during the overtime period. Few are laughing at the 24-year-old after 10 games. Wiggins is averaging career marks in PPG (25.5), AST (3.3), BLK (1.1) and field goal percentage (47.3), and as Danny Cunningham of SKOR North wrote, he also has drastically improved his shot selection, and the six-year pro is attacking the rim unlike at previous times during his underwhelming “empty points” periods.  Can this version of Wiggins last through the harsh winter months? Will he put forth more than half-efforts on defense minus the occasional solid outing? If “yes” is the answer to both questions, Wiggins will contend for Most Improved Player honors. 

James Harden

Houston Rockets guard James Harden heard your offseason jokes about his inability and unwillingness to share the ball with Russell Westbrook. Per Justin Kubatko of Statmuse and Basketball-Reference, the one-time regular-season MVP is only the third player in league history to average at least 37 PPG through the opening 10 games of a campaign. (Harden was at 37.3 at the start of Nov. 13.) The 30-year-old also scored the most points across 10 contests (373) than any player since Rick Barry tallied 381 points in the fall of 1966. Most frightening for opposing defenses is that several signs point to Harden heating up rather than peaking ahead of Thanksgiving. He shot under 13 percent from three-point land in three of his first five games before returning to form from long distance over the subsequent four outings. From Nov. 4 through Nov. 11, Harden averaged 40.25 PPG in four games. 

LeBron James 

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James turns 35 years old in December, but one wouldn’t know that by watching him this fall. USA Today, Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype, Nemanja Vukasinovic of Fadeaway World and Forbes’ Tommy Beer all mentioned James as an MVP candidate in early November, and the King averaged 24.0 PPG, 11.0 AST, 8.2 REB and 1.1 STL in his first 10 games. He shot 47.1 percent from the field over that period.  James isn’t a fan of load management. “If I’m hurt, I don’t play. If not, I’m playing,” he told ESPN earlier this month. Lakers coach Frank Vogel should approach the situation differently. Los Angeles is built to win a title next spring. Limiting James’ involvement in relatively meaningless games this winter is vital to achieving that goal. 

Last season, the Toronto Raptors featured Kawhi Leonard in 60 regular-season contests. Leonard entered the playoffs fresh, and he was the Association’s top two-way player throughout the postseason. The Lakers require James’ best beginning next April, not in January.

By: Zac Wassink

Best team fits for players in NBA Draft

Yardbarker NBA draft analyst Brett Koremenos offers the best player-team fits in the June 20 draft. (Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and the Lakers, anyone?)

Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and Los Angeles Lakers

During the 2018-19 season, the Lakers ranked 29th in three-point field goal percentage. Garland may be one of the best shooters in the draft. Should major contributors Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kouzma and, of course, LeBron James be on the L.A. roster opening night, Garland will be in a perfect spot. There will be no pressure for him to start right away, a nice transition for a player who missed most of his only season at Vanderbilt because of a knee injury. If he were to land with the Lakers, Garland would play with a ball-dominant playmaker — either James or Ball — allowing Garland to do what he does best: shoot.

Texas’ Jaxson Hayes and Washington Wizards

When the aging Marcin Gortat was traded last year, Wizards franchise point guard John Wall lost arguably the best pick-and-roll partner he has had in D.C. Enter Hayes. Nothing would help a rookie center find his NBA footing like one of the league’s best passers. As for Wall, he’d find new life having a young, lob-catching big man to help him torture defenses.

Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura and Miami Heat

Ever since the Big Three left town, Miami has become the basketball version of the Island of Misfit Toys. From Josh Richardson to Justise Winslow to James Johnson, the Heat has taken players without a clearly defined position and found a way to make them work. For a hard-working but unrefined forward such as the 6-foot-8 Hachimura, Miami would be a godsend. Somehow Miami’s culture would likely find a way to ensure Hachimura becomes a valuable NBA contributor.

Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson and Detroit Pistons

Detroit’s recent mediocrity mostly can be linked to sub-par wing play. Johnson’s game isn’t super-sexy, but he’s an energetic defender with a jump shot that should require respect from NBA three-point territory. 

Tennessee’s Grant Williams and Utah Jazz

With Donovan Mitchell emerging as the offensive star and Rudy Golbert anchoring the defense, the Jazz isn’t desperate for star power. Instead, the team needs role players capable of executing their savvy brand of basketball and hitting open shots. That sounds exactly like what the rugged but instinctive Williams should bring. Although the shooting isn’t quite a sure thing (yet), the Tennessee forward would carve out a rotation spot quickly in Utah.

Arizona State’s Lu Dort and Portland Trail Blazers

Perhaps the biggest flaw in Dort’s game is the decisions he makes with the ball in his hands. When you play for the Portland Trail Blazers, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard handle those situations. With the Blazers, Dort could emerge as the perfect defensive yin to Lillard and McCollum’s offensive yang. The strong and athletic guard could handle tough backcourt assignments, allowing Portland’s bucket-getting duo to focus solely on tormenting defenses.

Washington’s Matisse Thybulle and San Antonio Spurs

Over the past two decades, the Spurs have developed a reputation. San Antonio will take a raw wing player and, almost under the cover of night, develop him into a crucial cog in their playoff machine. Thybulle has made a name for himself as an athletic, disruptive 6-foot-5 defender oozing potential but lacking refinement. He spent time at Washington playing in a 2-3 zone and doesn’t have much in the way of offensive skills. If any team could unlock Thybulle’s potential and turn him into a two-way force, it’s the Spurs.

Georgia’s Nic Claxton and Brooklyn Nets

After making an appearance in this year’s playoffs, the Nets finally got a chance to show off their innovative offense. It was orchestrated by young players who benefited from the great developmental process in Brooklyn. If you squint hard enough, Claxton has the makings of a rangy, perimeter-savvy center with a respectable outside shot. But like unfinished sculpture, Claxton needs a team to chip away the rough edges. For a Nets offense that likes to have all its players capable of handling themselves behind the three-point line, Claxton would be a perfect addition

Full List

By: Brett Koremenos

What happens if Washington Wizards win NBA Draft Lottery?

One of the goals for the Washington Wizards coming into the 2018-2019 season was to get 50 wins. They ended the season with 50 losses. The disappointing season led to Wizards securing the sixth-best lottery odds for the 2019 NBA Draft, with a 9% chance at the number one pick.

Big picture: Wizard’s star point guard John Wall will be out for most, if not all, of the 2019-2020 season with a torn Achilles. With the Wizards having little cap space to sign top free agents this summer, they will look to build through the draft.

The dream scenario: The best-case scenario for the Wizards is getting the No. 1 overall pick. The clear-cut best player in this draft is Zion Williamson. Williamson could be an instant star in the NBA and has the ability to instantly turn the direction of a slumping franchise around.

Zion Williamson breakdown:

  • Williamson is a 6-foot-7, 284-pound forward from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is only 18 years old.
  • Last season at Duke, Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game.
  • Williamson has the body build of an NFL defensive end, but set Duke’s record in vertical leap with 40 inches and has the ability to dunk from the free throw line.
  • Williamson was named ACC rookie of the year and ACC player of the year. He was also named Naismith college player of the year and AP player of the year.

What will the Wizards do this summer if they strike the jackpot and land Zion Williamson?

Who is under contract The Wizards currently have only five players under contract for the 2019-2020 season not including Williamson. Those five players — John Wall, Bradley Beal, Ian Mahinmi, Troy Brown and Jordan McRae — take up nearly $90 million of the Wizards cap space. The projected salary cap for next season is $109 million.

The Howard situation: Dwight Howard barely saw the floor last season due to an injury.

  • He has a player option of about $5.5 million.
  • Howard picked up his option, giving him a spot on the Wizards next season.

The Parker option: Jabari Parker played very well for the Wizards last season, averaging 15 points and 7.2 rebounds after he got traded from the Bulls.

  • Parker has a team option of $20 million for next season. While Parker played well, that is too steep of a price to pay for him.
  • The Wizards will decline his team option making Parker a free agent.
  • However, the Wizards will not let Parker walk. They will re-sign him to a two year, $18 million deal with a player option in year two.

Wizards’ free agents: Besides Jabari Parker, the Wizards have seven of their players from last season hitting free agency. Bobby Portis, Tomas Satoransky, Sam Dekker, Chasson Randle and Thomas Bryant will all be restricted free agents meaning the Wizards can match an offer another team gives them. Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green will be unrestricted free agents.

Full Article

By: Matthew Levin

Wizards reportedly willing to trade John Wall, Bradley Beal

The Washington Wizards are off to a terrible start this season, and the team’s front office may not be willing to be patient to see if things will turn around.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Wizards are giving teams the impression that they are open to trading any player on their roster, including John Wall and Bradley Beal. Washington would reportedly prefer to build around its All-Star backcourt, but the belief is that the current roster may no longer be able to coexist.

Wojnarowski adds that the Wizards had previously chosen not to include Wall and Beal in trade discussions involving star players like Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, but the team’s 5-11 start has the front office reconsidering. Another possibility would be to shop Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre in an attempt to bring in a third star, but the Wizards have not seen much interest in those players on the trade market.

Beal is three years younger than Wall, who will be owed $42 million per year for four years starting next season. Wall also has a 15 percent trade kicker in his deal, so he may be tougher to trade than Beal.

A fresh start could make sense for Wall if things keep trending in the direction they have been heading, as he recently had to defend himself against criticism that he parties too much. However, it seems like the return for Beal could be more significant if the Wizards are looking to rebuild.

The Wizards fell at home to the Portland Trail Blazers 119-109 on Sunday, and head coach Scott Brooks unloaded on the team for a lack of effort.

By Steve DelVecchio

Original Article

Bradley Beal Becomes Youngest Player To Hit 700 Threes

Written by Rexwell Villas at Clutch

When Bradley Beal knocked down the first of his two 3-point makes Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Washington Wizards shooting guard didn’t just add three points to the scoreboard — he also became the youngest ever in NBA history to bury 700 career triples.

This according to‘ tweet, welcoming Beal to the 700 3-pointers club.

With his accomplishment, Bradley Beal has bested the likes of former Wizards sharpshooter Gilbert Arenas, J.R. Smith, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant as the youngest ever to drain 700 long bombs.

Beal, who finished the Bucks game with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field with five assists, a steal, and a block to help lift Washington to a 99-88 road win, leads his team this season with 38 3-pointers in 17 games so far. He is knocking down 2.2 threes per game on 37.3 percent shooting.

Since entering the league as a third-pick overall by the Wizards in the 2012 NBA Draft, Bradley Beal has shown terrific sniping from behind the arc. After making 91 3-pointers in his rookie season, he’s buried at least 105 treys and shot no worse than 38.7 percent from long distance in each of the succeeding four campaigns.

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Wizards Get Back On Track After Beating Kings

Written by Candace Buckner at Washington

For the second straight game, the Washington Wizards turned significant segments over to the bench and lived to tell about it.

Against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, Mike Scott hit the bull’s eye on almost every shot attempt. Kelly Oubre Jr. found younger and less experienced players to bully, and like a wily veteran, he doled out lessons to the young bucks. And when it was entrusted with the game, the Wizards’ five-man bench played at a fast and unrelenting tempo, guiding Washington to a 110-92 win over Sacramento in front of an announced crowd of 14,660 at Capital One Arena.

John Wall did not miss a shot until the 6:31 mark of the third quarter, and Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter Jr. played competently while matching up against Sacramento’s starters, but these contributions amounted to nice details in the Wizards’ third straight win and eighth in 13 games. The bench powered this one, resetting the action after the first unit’s poor defensive start and flipping a seven-point deficit into a lasting lead.

“Just being unselfish,” Scott explained, then ticked off the winning formula: “Keeping the tempo up, playing fast and playing unselfish on both ends and getting the easy buckets. Moving the ball, and it’s been working.”

Oubre and Scott entered the Monday matchup as the high scorers on the bench and continued that trend against the Kings. Scott hit his first four shots and eclipsed his 8.0 scoring average by halftime. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Oubre played a balanced game with 12 points, eight rebounds and two steals.

Wall made 8 of 9 from the field for 21 points and finished with nine assists, while Gortat scored 18 and pulled down seven rebounds — “might have been his best game of the season,” Coach Scott Brooks said.

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Wizards Fall To Lakers, And Lavar Ball Was Right

Written by Dan Steinberg at Washington

“Never question LaVar Ball again,” a forlorn Steve Buckhantz said well after 1 a.m. on Thursday morning, as Ball rejoiced over a Lakers victory. That wasn’t how this night was supposed to end.

Basketball’s baldest provocateur somehow turned an October game between the Washington Wizards and the Lakers into an actual Event by warning the Wizards to beware their trip to L.A., since his son wouldn’t dream of losing twice in a week. Then came Marcin Gortat’s social-media prediction that John Wall would torture young Lonzo, and Wall’s promise to show “no mercy,” and Paul Pierce’s repeated claims that Wall was the best point guard in the game, and Wizards fans swooning over Wall’s $1,100 pregame Angry Cat Gucci sweater, and a general anticipation of calculated annihilation delivered by a veteran at the height of his powers upon an overmatched rookie whose father wouldn’t stop writing verbal checks for made-up amounts.

It didn’t start that way, but even well into the (very very) late night, you could still sort of imagine a recovery. As sloppily as they played through three quarters, the Wizards still led by 10 in the fourth, when NBC Sports Washington — the team’s broadcasting partner — put LaVar on the air. He offered up a few more laughers.

About Wall: “I don’t care if he was a 12-time all-star; he gotta play,” the elder Ball said. “You can get beat on any given night. So all that all-star stuff don’t count unless you out here today doing your thing.”

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Lakers Butthurt that John Wall Is Going to Dominate Lonzo Tonight

Written by Ohm Youngmisuk at

Brandon Ingram said Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers did not take kindly to Marcin Gortat’s tweet about how John Wall “will torture” the rookie point guard when the Washington Wizards visit L.A. on Wednesday.

“Yeah, of course we did,” Ingram said when asked if he saw Gortat’s tweet on Monday. “Everyone has social media, definitely saw it. The competitor in Lonzo, of course he didn’t take it so well and, with his teammates behind him, we didn’t take it so well.”

The Wizards center was responding to a video of LaVar Ball saying, “Washington is coming in Wednesday? They better beware because Lonzo ain’t losing again [this week].”

Asked about Gortat’s bravado toward his matchup, Wall said he plans to bring his A-game on Wednesday.

“Nah, no mercy,” Wall told The Washington Post on Monday. “Certain matchups you really get up for. Like when you play [Golden State Warriorsguard] Steph [Curry], you definitely want to have a good game. I’m playing against [Ball]. [Gortat] said what he said about me. I didn’t say anything. His dad has been talking … that makes me want to go out there and lead my team and play the best I can play.”

The unflappable and low-key Lonzo Ball said, “I don’t pay no mind to it” when asked about what Gortat tweeted.

“I already know my teammates have my back,” Ball added. “So we’re going to go out there, we’re going to play and hopefully get a win.”

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Wizards Stay Undefeated

Written by Candace Buckner at Washington

The Washington Wizards had not developed much of a three-point shooting identity through their first two games, but in a 109-104 win Monday night over the Denver Nuggets, the shots kept coming.

The Wizards took a season high 30 attempts from beyond the arc, making nine. It was early in the fourth quarter when Jodie Meeks, who pulls up as fast and as frequent from downtown as anyone on the roster, took a pass in transition from Tim Frazier and quickly turned it into a triple. Before jogging back on defense, Meeks spun toward the courtside fans and flashed three fingers.

That celebration aside, the Wizards (3-0) offered a refreshing change of pace for a team that had averaged the second fewest three-point attempts in the NBA before Monday night. Through the latter stages of the game, the Wizards remained in control while capitalizing on the mistake-prone Nuggets. Washington scored 29 points off 24 turnovers — the sloppiness muted Denver’s 41 bench points as well as a strong game from center Nikola Jokic, who led all scorers with 29 points.

However, with 32.2 seconds remaining in two-point game, Jokic was involved in an odd play, bumping into Coach Scott Brooks as he walked off the court. Brooks, who absorbed the shoulder contact and threw his hands in the air, immediately complained to referees. Jokic was assessed a technical foul for the “intentional” bump, according to referee Derrick Stafford.

Every Wizards starter reached double figures, including Otto Porter Jr., who made a pair of clutch free throws with 1:14 remaining to pad Washington’s lead to five points. Porter was 3 of 6 from beyond the arc and recorded his first double-double of the season (15 points, 10 rebounds).

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