The NBA announced Sunday that Pacers reserve forward Jeff Pendergraph has been fined $5,000 for flopping during a 106-86 victory over the Hawks in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series on May 1.
Pendergraph becomes the first player fined under the league's stiffer postseason policy, which eliminated the free warning given during the regular season and assesses escalating fines for each subsequent offense. During the regular season, 19 players were warned for flopping and five of those received fines for a second offense.
With a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter and the Pacers leading 25-24, Josh Smith backed Pendergraph down into the post. The two players bumped a few times before Smith's attack entered the paint, at which point Pendergraph launched himself backwards as if he had received Smith's right shoulder into his chest in what would be a charging foul. No foul was called on the play and replays showed that Smith never extended his off arm and that the contact between the two players was minimal or nonexistent.
This type of flop was specifically called out in the NBA’s official video introducing its flopping policy. In the video, Clippers guard Chris Paul was called out for trying to sell a charge in a similar manner.
“As the highlighted defensive player, No. 3 in the red uniform, defends the driving offensive player, he feels slight contact and then launches himself back to the floor,” the video’s narrator explained. “This reaction by the defensive player is an over-embellishment of marginal contact and is intended to draw an unearned offensive foul on his opponent.”
Pendergraph will now be subject to the postseason fine scale.
Violation 1: $5,000 fine
Violation 2: $10,000 fine
Violation 3: $15,000 fine
Violation 4: $30,000 fine
If a player violates the anti-flopping rule five times or more, he will be subject to discipline that is reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension.
Pendergraph, 26, averaged 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds in 37 appearances for the Pacers. He is on the books for $1.5 million this year.
Indiana, the East's No. 3 seed, defeated Atlanta in six games and will open its conference semifinals series against New York, the No. 3 seed, on Sunday.