Chris Paul had a nightmare of a game in Sacramento Tuesday night. The box score shows that he missed eight out of ten field goal attempts and committed a season high seven turnovers. And now the league office shows something else: a flop warning.
Early in the third quarter, after a Sacramento defensive rebound, Paul veered into DeMarcus Cousins path, snapped his head back, flailed his arms and pointed at Cousins before running back on defense. Only problem was, Cousins never touched him.
The play went more or less unnoticed in real time. Ralph and Mike said nothing about it, didn't even wonder if Paul had been fouled. The officiating crew, to their credit, were not fooled. There wasn't even any mention of the play on either the Clips Nation game thread or the Sactown Royalty game thread.
But the league office noticed, or perhaps someone else noticed and alerted the league office to take a look.
This is the worst kind of flop -- the kind I think we can all agree the game could do without. You almost have to ask yourself why Paul did it. What was the point? I think this is a case were Paul's ability to think the game so very thoroughly worked against him, as it sometimes does. A couple plays before, Cousins had been called for an offensive foul, a call he was unhappy about. Cousins was chirping at the officials and getting into that zone where it seemed like he might boil over, as he sometimes does. Paul saw that, and assumed the refs did as well. Apparently he thought he might be able to get another call on Cousins, stoke the fires of his frustration a bit, and maybe even get him ejected. It could be considered smart -- but it was also dishonest and deceptive.
I've written extensively about flopping, particularly about the continuum from an acceptable level of embellished contact to a clear flop. But there's also the invented contact flop, which to me should really be in a different category. It remains to be seen if the league's policy of one warning followed by escalating fines is much of a deterrent to flopping -- the league would have us believe that it is since they have issued fewer flop warnings in recent months, though that seems like a self-serving conclusion. I wouldn't mind seeing two tiers of flop reviews, with Paul's flop on Tuesday falling into the second, more severe category. It's one thing to try to draw the referee's attention to some legitimate contact, and warning a player who goes overboard with that embellishment seems appropriate. But this type of flop should probably receive an automatic fine without a warning. It might even warrant a suspension. That would put an end to this kind of thing (which is already pretty rare) in a hurry.
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