The NBA announced Monday that Rockets guard James Harden has been fined $5,000 for violating the league's anti-flopping policy for the second time this season. Harden, who will earn $13.7 million in salary this season, is the first player to receive a fine during the 2013-14 season.
Harden's flop occurred with roughly four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of of Houston's 107-94 home loss to the Clippers on Saturday night. With L.A. leading 92-83, Harden recovered an offensive rebound in traffic. As Blake Griffin closed in to trap Harden on the baseline, Harden leaned away to his left before launching himself to the ground out of bounds. The backside referee called a four on Griffin, awarding two shots to Harden, even though replays indicated that contact was minimal at best.
Video of the sequence can be seen above or on NBA.com.
This type of flop was specifically called out in the NBA’s official video introducing its flopping policy. In the video, Spurs guard Tony Parker was fouled on a drive but unnecessarily sent himself flying to the ground.
“The highlighted offensive player will draw a legitimate defensive foul on the drive but he subsequently over-embellishes the contact by flailing his arms and spinning to the floor,” the video’s narrator explains. “This over-embellished action is inconsistent with the level of contact and the direction of the contact.”
Harden previously received a warning for a flop against the Blazers last week.
This season, Wizards guard John Wall, Timberwolves forwards Kevin Love and Corey Brewer, Spurs guard Patty Mills, Bucks center Zaza Pachulia and Knicks guard Iman Shumpert have all received warnings. 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 12 points (on 4-for-15 shooting), five rebounds and five assists in 38 minutes on Saturday night. Houston will play host to the Raptors on Monday.