NBA Hands Out First Suspensions For 2015 season
If the Washington Wizards wanted to send a pre-season message to the Bulls, the NBA has sent a message to the rest of the league.
The NBA announced on Wednesday that they will be suspending four Washington Wizards players for leaving the bench in an altercation that involved Wizards’ forward Paul Pierce and Chicago’s 2014 Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah during Monday’s opening pre-season game between the Bulls and the Wizards. De Juan Blair, Nene, Daniel Orton and Xavier Silas of the Wizards were suspended for one game each.
According to NBA President for Basketball Operations Rod Thorn, who handed out the punishments, the one game suspension will be served by the players “during the first regular season game in which the players are physically able to play.” On the other hand, the NBA also fined both Joakim Noah and Paul Pierce $15,000.00 apiece for starting the melee.
The scuffle in Chicago happened just three minutes into the first quarter of the teams’ first preseason game for 2015. It started when Paul Pierce whacked a streaking Jimmy Butler at halfcourt. While the referees were reviewing the play, a visibly upset Noah came over to Pierce, who was still jawing at Butler, and pushed him by the chest. Pierce responded by poking his index finger on Noah’s forehead. As tempers began to flare up, the four suspended Wizards left the bench to join the fray.
According to NBA Spokesman Tim Frank, the four players “crossed the midcourt line which was not a reasonable distance to be from the bench during a replay review.”
Sending out a message
The Bulls and Wizards look like they are growing a rivalry out East. Last season, the teams met in the first round of the playoffs where the Wizards upset a depleted Bulls’ squad who played without Derrick Rose. However, things could be different this season with the Bulls’ reloading with key additions.
According to Paul Pierce, the incident “just happened” and insinuated that the Wizards wanted to set the tone for the coming season by sending the Bulls a message. “We’re going to be instigators.” he said. Pierce came to Washington this offseason via free agency. The Wizards are counting on his veteran experience and leadership to inspire their young core.
Could be crucial
The suspensions are material because these are not pre-season suspensions rather they will be served during the regular season. This means that the Wizards will play without their top two power forwards on opening night this coming October 29 when the face the Miami Heat. It’s just a one-game suspension but with the competitiveness of teams increasing this season, one game could make a big difference in playoff positioning.
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