Boston Celtics

Feeling Flip? On Buchholz's balkReturn of two-sport athlete

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Feeling Flip? On Buchholz's balkReturn of two-sport athlete

Flip Saunders expects the Miami Heat to win the NBA Finals.

This was the headline from a story in this morning's Star Tribune, in which writer Sid Hartman (of the Minneapolis Hartmans) interviewed Saunders on a series of NBA matters.

Hartman and Saunders who spent 10 years as the Timberwolves head coach and the last two months as an adviser with the Celtics spoke about LeBron James and Kevin Durant. They spoke about Saunders time in Boston. They spoke about his relationship with Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett, and his future in coaching.

Wedged in between all this conversation was an interesting little tidbit that felt so obvious and unimportant within the flow of the story that Hartman didn't even bother using quotes. It was just a little throw away line that transitioned into the next stage of his column.

Saunders is positive Garnett, who is a free agent, will sign for another year with the Celtics, who have some rebuilding to do.
Wow. That easy, huh?

So, I guess the question is: How much faith do you have in Flip Saunders a guy who spent a decade coaching Garnett in Minnesota and was closer to him over this last playoff run than all but a hand full of people? How much faith do you have in Sid Hartman? Did Saunders actually say that he was "positive" or was Hartman perhaps just somewhat casually summing up Saunders general opinion, without realizing what an absolutely enormous deal this is in Boston?

Ehhh, I don't know. I guess it's better we don't jump to any conclusions. That we don't get too high or low on what other people are saying, because for all we know someone else close to KG will come out tomorrow saying that he's hanging them up, and then what do we do? WHAT DO WE DO?!

We do nothing. We sit and wait for Garnett to make a decision, and hope to have a few finger (andor toe) nails left by the time he does.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

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NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.