Luke Walton calls out Jonas Valanciunas for 'dirty play'
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings remain upset about a play in their game on Sunday against Memphis, when Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas threw Chimezie Metu to the ground following a dunk. Metu, who is on a two-way contract with Sacramento, fractured his wrist while trying to break his fall and will miss at least the next month.

After dunking, Metu hung on the rim with Valanciunas underneath him and the Grizzlies’ big man responded by grabbing Metu’s legs and throw him to the court. Memphis contends that Metu was trying to show up Valanciunas by hanging over him following the dunk, while the Kings insist the 23-year-old had no place to safely land. Valanciunas was assessed with a technical foul, not a flagrant, a ruling the NBA upheld after reviewing the play, much to the Kings’ displeasure.

“I thought it was a dirty play — still do,” Kings coach Luke Walton said, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “Watched it a lot since and just disappointed. … He hooked him by the leg and tried to throw him down, so I didn’t understand how that is not, in what today’s NBA is, is not even considered a flagrant foul. I don’t see how that’s a basketball play.”

“There are people who think that was right or (Valanciunas) was in the right by any means, which is also ridiculous,” Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton said. “It’s hard to understand if you think that, because Mezie has nowhere to go. He can’t land on the ground there and the timing between him being thrown to the ground and the timing of the dunk, there’s not a lot of time there. It’s not like he wrapped his legs around and tried to taunt. We were down 20. He’s not trying to taunt him. He’s trying to stay safe.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Asked about his priorities when he reaches free agency this summer, Kings center Richaun Holmes told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, “I want to be able to take care of my family.” While that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll simply accept the most lucrative offer available, it sounds like Holmes won’t be eager to accept any sort of home-team discount.
  • The Warriors issued a formal update on James Wiseman on Thursday, announcing that they hope he’ll return from his left wrist injury at some point during the team’s four-game road trip that begins Friday in Orlando. While it remains to be seen if he’ll be available on Saturday in Charlotte, that game will represent the first checkpoint in what figures to be an ongoing Wiseman/LaMelo Ball redraft debate, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Golden State picked Wiseman second overall, leaving Ball – the standout rookie so far this season – for the Hornets at No. 3.
  • Amir Coffey hasn’t played much for the Clippers since signing a two-way contract in the summer of 2019, but injuries have cleared the way for him to earn major minutes this week — he has averaged 14.0 PPG on 76.9% shooting in the last two games (29.0 MPG). As Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register writes, Reggie Jackson observed that Coffey is “trying not to be sent back down” to the G League bubble once L.A.’s roster gets healthier.

This article first appeared on Hoops Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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