The NBA announced Monday that Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet has been suspended one game without pay for head butting Pelicans center Greg Stiemsma during New Orleans' 105-102 preseason win last week.
With Oklahoma City leading 54-51 with 26 remaining before halftime, Thabeet shoved Stiemsma in the chest and throat as he tried to fight through a screen while playing perimeter defense. Stiemsma responded with a shove of his own, leading Thabeet to pursue him chest-to-chest, before leaning in with his head to contact Stiemsma's head. The two players were then separated, and the referees assessed double technical fouls, allowing both Thabeet and Stiemsma to remain in the game. Thabeet finished with two points and three rebounds in 14 minutes of action.
Video of the exchange is available at NBA.com.
Thabeet, 26, averaged 2.4 points and 3.0 rebounds for the Thunder last season. The No. 2 pick in the 2009 draft, Thabeet will earn $1.2 million in 2013-14, and a one-game suspension without pay will cost him roughly $10,900.
The Tanzanian big man will serve his suspension during the first regular season game in which he is eligible and physically able to play, which will likely be Oklahoma City's season opener in Utah on Oct. 30. The Thunder start Kendrick Perkins at center and have rookie Steven Adams, a 2013 lottery pick, coming off the bench. Oklahoma City has two games remaining on its preseason schedule: Oct. 22 against the Suns in Phoenix and Oct. 23 against the Bulls in Wichita.