The biggest offseason news in the Van Gundy household had nothing to do with Dwight Howard, player movement or new coaches, it was the NBA's new rules surrounding flopping that should have really got Jeff Van Gundy riled up.
It's what the color commentator has been rallying for ever since somebody put a microphone in front of him, so this new rule should be music to his ears, right?
Well, not exactly. The new rule is as ambiguous as it is pointless this far into the season. We've seen just four players called out by the league for flopping, and there has yet to be a single fine or suspension levied by the league.
The most recent violator of the league's anti-flopping charade is Reggie Evans, but Kevin Martin might have the most important so far. Martin received a warning for throwing himself to the ground as Jonas Jerebko gave him a nasty rapping about the fingertips.
What do I know, though? Maybe he's got a strange tic that sends him flying to the ground every time someone hits more than one of his fingers with any kind of force, but I'll let you guys be the judge:
Martin's flop wasn't one of the worst we've seen in the NBA over the past few years, but it was obvious and it resulted in a call in his favor. Isn't that the entire point?
The Thunder were down when Martin went up for the shot, Jerebko barely tapped him and Martin was awarded three free throws. Normally I wouldn't make too much of a stink about it, but Oklahoma City won by two points, while Martin made all three free throws.
Would the game have rolled out differently if he wasn't awarded the free throws? There's definitely a possibility.
The point here is not that the Pistons got robbed of what would have been their first win of the season, rather that the game was still altered by a flop, and the flopping player was given no more punishment than a warning from the league.
I know the argument following this, however. If Martin (or JJ Barea, Donald Sloan or Reggie Evans) end up getting caught flopping again they'll incur a fine. To that I ask what a $5,000 fine is to a guy who makes over $12 million this season?
If it comes down to it again and Martin is forced to make a decision between purposely flopping and potentially getting his team a victory and shelling out what amounts to less than three percent of a single game's pay, he's probably going to make the same decision.
The league's "war on flopping" is little more than a facade so far. Are we to believe that in over 200 games played already this season only four guys have flopped? That's willful ignorance if it's anything.
With the four penalties doled out (and no real actions taken against the floppers) the floppers continue to have the upper hand. What happens when a head coach with a Sean Payton mentality decides that he can cover the meager flopping fines if it means his team can win more games?
Right now I'd have to applaud the floppers more than I would the league. At least they're doing what they're doing for a noble purpose, the league seems to be trying to pretend that they've done something while simultaneously putting in place a regulation system that is both inconsistent and seemingly ineffective.
I'm not going to advocate that the league allow referees to call fouls on floppers during games, or go back and look at instant replay to determine if a guy flopped, that's something that seems like it will do more harm than good. However, I'm all for a more strict system of penalties that amounts to more than a slap on the wrist after each of the first five violations.
If the league wants to do more than look like they're advocating against flopping, it's time for real penalties. Fines should come early and often, and suspensions that are more than just idle threats as they are under the current rule.
The best way to get rid of an ugly problem like this isn't a slap on the wrist, it's to make an example of the violators. If the league's warnings are the example, then there's no real reason for the floppers to stop flopping.