James Harden is averaging 25.2 points and 4.2 assists this season. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images Sport)
The NBA announced Thursday that Rockets guard James Harden has been issued a warning for flopping.
Harden's flop occurred midway through the third quarter of Houston's 116-101 road win over Portland on Tuesday night. With Houston leading 67-52, Harden pulled up for a step-back jumper. Blazers guard Wesley Matthews defended the shot by face-guarding Harden, who thrust his head backward as if Matthews' hand had hit his face. He then fell to the court and held his face in pain. Replays indicated that no contact was made by Matthews, who received a personal foul on the play and then a technical foul for arguing the call.
Video of the sequence can be seen below or on NBA.com.
“After releasing the jump shot, the shooter, No. 3 in the white uniform, extends his right leg attempting to draw a defensive foul,” the video’s narrator explains. “While there is marginal contact on the play, the flail and spin to the floor by the offensive player is an over-embellishment and it’s inconsistent with marginal contact.”
Harden becomes the sixth player warned by the league for flopping this season, joining Wizards guard John Wall, Timberwolves forwards Kevin Love and Corey Brewer, Spurs guard Patty Mills and Bucks center Zaza Pachulia. No warnings were handed out during the preseason.
Instituted before the 2012-13 season, the NBA's anti-flopping system provides one free warning to players before they are subjected to a scaling set of monetary fines.
- Violation 1: Warning
- Violation 2: $5,000 fine
- Violation 3: $10,000 fine
- Violation 4: $15,000 fine
- Violation 5: $30,000 fine
- Violation 6: Subject to discipline reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension
The NBA assigned 24 flopping violations to 19 different players on 13 different teams during the 2012-13 regular season. Five players received two infractions each, earning fines totaling $25,000, with zero players getting dinged three or more times.
During the 2013 playoffs, the NBA removed the free warning and began assessing fines. Although commissioner David Stern said that the league's current policy "isn't enough" to curb the practice, the league did not adopt any changes to the policy during the offseason.
The NBA defines flopping as "any physical act that, following review, reasonably appears to be intended to cause the game officials to call a foul on another player" with the “primary factor” in determining a flop being whether “a player’s physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.”
Harden finished with 33 points (on 11-for-18 shooting), seven rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes on Tuesday night. Houston will play host to the Lakers on Thursday.