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The reason Devin Booker won’t be suspended for dangerous mid-air push on Lakers’ Dennis Schroder

You’ve probably seen it by now. Phoenix Suns All-Star Devin Booker outright shoved Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder while he was in mid-air.

Here’s the infraction that got Lakers fans heated, if you want to refresh your memory:

Immediately after, there was clamor that Devin Booker should be suspended for Game 4. Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis spoke out about how the play was definitely “dirty”. Schroder himself took it a step further, outright claiming that Booker did in fact deserve to be suspended, and that it would be deemed as such in the regular season.

“That wasn’t a basketball play, and regular season, it’s probably a suspension as well,” the Lakers guard claimed.

But there’s a difference between what garners a suspension and what doesn’t, especially in the NBA Playoffs.

Lakers fans may remember the down year LA had during the 2011 postseason, when Andrew Bynum got suspended for his gruesome shove of Dallas Mavericks sixth man J.J. Barea.

Booker’s shove is definitely worth a Flagrant 2 and an automatic ejection, just as he was assessed. But compare the malicious intent and severity of the contact from that play to what was displayed by Bynum on this play, which did earn Bynum a suspension which he served to start the regular season the following year.

The Lakers big man went out of his way to elbow Barea at the apex of his jump, purely with the intention to hurt the Mavs guard in frustration as they were on the brink of elimination. While Booker’s actions were still inexcusable, a flagrant 2 assessment seems fair in this context.

The league has rules in place when it comes to handing out suspensions for flagrant fouls such as this. Fans may recall Draymond Green’s infamous suspension back in 2016 when he had some rather extra-curricular contact to LeBron James’ nether regions.

The Warriors star was eventually suspended for Game 5, which turned the championship series on its head. But the reason for the suspension had nothing to do with the severity of the contact, but rather the accumulation of Draymond Green’s flagrant fouls throughout the 2016 playoffs.

The NBA’s rule for suspensions in the playoffs is a three-point system. A flagrant 1 counts as one point, while a flagrant 2 counts as two points. Exceeding three points total constitutes that suspension. Green was already sitting on three flagrant fouls at that point, with the fourth one on James leading to an automatic suspension.

Devin Booker’s flagrant 2 infraction against the Lakers guard gives him two points, with another flagrant 2 giving him that suspension. But otherwise, he’s still in the clear.

All this is to say that Lakers fans hoping that Booker gets suspended for Game 4 shouldn’t hold their breath. While the NBA will definitely look at the play from all angles, both literally and figuratively, it seems unlikely that they’ll slam Booker for anything outside the standard protocol. It would take an egregious display, such as that of Andrew Bynum’s elbow, to constitute a punishment more severe.

Here’s to hoping that the rest of the Lakers-Suns series tapers down on controversy, with the drama being centered on exciting in-game action.