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J. Michael: NBA stars criticize officiating but there are no easy fixes

J. Michael: NBA stars criticize officiating but there are no easy fixes

The last two-minute reports from the NBA are viewed as a refreshing attempt at transparency under the guidance of relatively new commissioner Adam Silver by some, and to others they're an annoyance because they don't go far enough and only serve to further agitate players and coaches with what-could've-been questions.

Kevin Durant and Paul George made strong statements about officiating for different reasons. Both should prove costly. Tuesday, Durant launched into a four-letter tirade over the process being unfair to game officials after the league determined he was fouled on the final possession of Golden State's one-point loss to Cleveland on Sunday. And then there was a technical foul call on LeBron James that was missed. 

From Durant, via Warriors Insider Monte Poole of CSNBayarea.com:

I think it’s (BS) that the NBA throws the refs under the bus like that. This happened to be in our favor – it’s not even in our favor; we don’t get the win – but to say that I got fouled and the tech . . . just move on. You don’t throw the refs under the bus like that, because the next game that group of refs, or whoever it is, they’re going to come out and they’re going to ref the game and they’re going to be tense when they’re reffing the game and they’re going to try to get every play right.

George, who is in town with the Indiana Pacers to play the Wizards on Wednesday, is certain to get hit with a hefty fine for his comments after Monday's 90-85 loss to the Chicago Bulls:

I've been fined multiple times. I've been vocal to the point where the league issues (a statement), 'Hey, we missed a call. Hey, we missed that.' Officials do it during games (saying), 'I missed that call, I missed this call. We're sorry. We're sorry.' It's getting repetitive. They see it, they know what's going on. They know what's a foul. They know what's not a foul. It comes down from somewhere else how these games are going, I believe.

The second part of George's quote is certain to warrant the biggest reason for whatever fine he gets. He's not complaining about a particular call, which is reason enough, but insinuating that small market teams like the Pacers don't get a fair shake:

Ever since I've been playing, ever since I've been in this jersey we've fought this battle. Maybe the league has teams they like so they can give them the benefit of the doubt. We're the little brother of the league.

All of this is a bit eye-popping. George, it could be argued, personally benefits from "superstar calls." The Wizards lost by one point last season in a game in which he was sent to the line for free throws with three seconds left. When the L2M report was released then, the league supported the foul call though more contact than that is usually warranted at the end of close games. 

There's this unspoken/unwritten rule to let players decide the game at the end – not whistles – and the inconsistent messages have rubbed some the wrong way and led to endless (and sometimes baseless) speculation. That would explain the no-call for Durant, who was clearly pushed to the floor by Richard Jefferson. It doesn't explain the call George received in that game vs. the Wizards, a season-changing loss that everyone pointed to as the final nail in the coffin of then-coach Randy Wittman's run. 

John Wall, for instance, already has eight technical fouls, which is tied for the most in the league this season. In the L2MR from the Wizards' 107-102 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, the league determined only one call was missed and it didn't directly impact the outcome. Giannis Antetokounmpo traveled in front of the Wizards' bench with 1:26 left.

There are plenty of calls that impact games long before the final two minutes. What about the touch fouls called that sends a player to the bench with three fouls in the first half, or gives him a fourth foul early in the third? What about a player such as Jefferson being hit with a technical foul for winking at Durant in the fourth quarter because it was considered a taunt?

The list goes on and there are no easy answers because there are so many 50-50 calls that take place at a breakneck speed in real time. Silver should be commended for trying to take the NBA in a new direction with transparency, his refreshing demeanor, and honesty. But his work is far from done. 

The conversation should be about how great Christmas Day games were for the league with Durant's matchup with the Cavs as the bright spot. Instead, two days later, it's only about what went wrong. The dark cloud remains.

MORE WIZARDS: Like Wizards, LeBron also reportedly annoyed with Giannis

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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