INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — The NBA has new guidelines to outlaw flopping, and Cavaliers coach Byron Scott doesn’t seem to care.
And why should he?
“It doesn’t affect us,” Scott said, smiling. “We don’t have any floppers. It doesn’t affect us one bit.”
Some around the league – well, actually, a lot of folks – might argue with Scott’s take. A lot of folks might tell you Cavs big man Anderson Varejao is the originator of faking fouls, that his ability to “sell” charges on opponents to referees can be his biggest strength.
Anyone who’s seen Varejao in action knows he does, in fact, make a pretty strong case. He leans into the offensive player a little, waits for the man he’s guarding to dip his shoulder, then crashes back-first to the court with wild hair whirling and arms flapping.
Now, the league will make an extra effort to determine if such tactics are actually the result of a charge — or if they’re little more of acting jobs worthy of a prime time Emmy.
According to the new rule, the first flopping violation results in a warning. The next will cost the guilty party $5,000. After that, fines increase to $10,000 for the third infraction, $15,000 for the fourth, and $30,000 for the fifth.
The league defined flopping as “any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.”
The result is some serious change — the kind that is likely to force players to reassess any notions of taking (and faking) a charge.
After all, Scott and Varejao both repeatedly shrugged off all hints and allegations that the Cavs might have reason for concern. Heck, Varejao has missed more than half the season each of the previous two years with ankle and hand injuries. So who has time to flop?
“(Varejao) said the other day he hasn’t flopped in two years. It’s the truth,” Scott said. “He hasn’t played much in the last two years, either.”
Tristan Thompson has received recognition for being the “hardest working Cavalier” in the offseason, thanks mostly to his visibility while working out in Cleveland.
But there’s more to it than just the second-year power forward being around town. He put in the time.
Thompson said he worked on “all aspects” of his game, including hitting the weight room and adding “10 or 15 pounds” to his 6-foot-9 frame.
“The gym was open, so why not take advantage of this beautiful facility?” Thompson said of the Cleveland Clinic Courts, where the Cavs practice.
“Not having Antawn (Jamison), guys gotta step up and make shots,” he added. “That’s what I was working on this summer.”
Scott said he thinks it’s paying dividends, with Thompson looking more comfortable shooting away from the basket — as opposed to his usual strict diet of layups and dunks.
“He worked his butt off and you have to give him credit for that,” Scott said. “I hope it manifests itself on the court. He’s already pretty athletic and quick. If he gets to the point where he hits a 15-foot jump shot on a consistent basis, it will keep the defense at bay.”
Thompson averaged 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 60 (of 66) games last season.
* Scott was unwilling to announce Thompson as the Cavs’ starting power forward, mentioning Samardo Samuels and newcomer Jon Leuer as candidates. Scott did concede, “As of right now, I give (Thompson) the edge.”
* Leuer spent his first season in Milwaukee before the Bucks placed him on waivers. He is 6-10 and can shoot from deep. “He has 3-point range,” Scott said. “He has a very good basketball IQ. He’s a lot more athletic than people think he is.”
* Small forward Luke Walton, obtained last season from the Lakers in the Ramon Sessions trade, has been the subject of rumors involving a possible buyout. Walton is 32 years old and his body has betrayed him in recent seasons. However, he said if the Cavs have suggested buying out his contract, he has not been made aware — and that he leaves such things to his agent. Walton reportedly will earn a little more than $6 million this season, the last year of his deal. He made it pretty clear Wednesday he wants to keep playing.