BY TIM REYNOLDS
Monty McCutchen’s father raised an interesting point not long ago, and it resonated right away with the former NBA referee who decided to hang up his whistle earlier this season.
“He told me that no decision is real if it is easy,” McCutchen said.
McCutchen’s move off the floor and into the NBA office was certainly not easy. But instead of calling a few games a week, McCutchen sees his job now as one where he could have a say in how they all get officiated. About a month into his job as an NBA vice president overseeing referee development and training, McCutchen is jumping in with both feet.
He and fellow NBA executive Michelle Johnson are going to be instrumental in the league’s plan to improve how players and referees get along. There’s going to be more education, more studying, more explaining and more listening — and McCutchen truly believes it will work.
“I’m invigorated by the people I’m working with, Michelle Johnson,” McCutchen said. “I’m invigorated by the people in our office who work closely with referee operations. When you work with good people and you work for a good purpose, that invigorates our lives.”
Ask players and coaches who the best ref in the game was, and the majority of them would likely say McCutchen. His on-court retirement means this season’s NBA Finals will be the first since 1985 where the refereeing corps for the series will not include either him, Joey Crawford or Danny Crawford — all recent retirees.
“It would be disingenuous of me to say I did not miss it,” McCutchen said.
The addition of two-way contracts seems to be helping more rookies get some NBA run.
There’s been 97 rookies on the floor already this season, the most since 1949-50 — the fourth season of the NBA.
Roughly half of this season’s rookies were undrafted. And 14 players taken in the 2017 draft have yet to make their NBA debut, including No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz of Philadelphia.
Boston and Dallas have each used seven rookies. The Clippers and the Lakers have both played six.
Minnesota and Washington are the exceptions, with no rookies yet to take the floor for either club this season. The Timberwolves have two rookies on the roster, with Amile Jefferson on a two-way and Justin Patton recovering from surgery. The Wizards’ lone rookie is Devin Robinson, also on a two-way.
When Dwyane Wade got drafted in 2003, agent Henry Thomas was right at his side.
Fitting. Wade never left Thomas’ side, either.
Thomas died Saturday, after battling health issues for years. He didn’t have a huge stable of clients, but his impact was enormous in Miami — with Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem all represented by Thomas for years.
He meant so much to Wade and Haslem that when Thomas fell gravely ill last week, they both rushed to be at his bedside and missed games in the process. They did so with the blessing of the Cavaliers and Heat.
Kevin Love’s broken hand means he will miss the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season because of injury.
This won’t make him feel any better, but he’s in good company. The only other players in the last 20 years to miss two consecutive All-Star contests because of injuries are Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
THE WEEK AHEAD
A game of note for each of the next seven days:
— Miami at Cleveland, Wednesday: Dwyane Wade playing against Miami will always look strange.
— Houston at San Antonio, Thursday: The Rockets scored 124 points against the Spurs back in December.
— Portland at Toronto, Friday: A guard showdown, Lillard and McCollum versus Lowry and DeRozan.
— Chicago at L.A. Clippers, Saturday: Both teams were written off early, but are clearly clicking now.
— Charlotte at Phoenix, Sunday: No OT, please — the game should end shortly before the Super Bowl.
— Washington at Indiana, Monday: First of three meetings this season between the East hopefuls.
— Oklahoma City at Golden State, Tuesday: Thunder held the Warriors to 91 points earlier this season.
New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins was having a year for the record books. Cousins tore his left Achilles’ tendon last week, meaning his season will end with him averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists.
That puts him in a most elite club.
The only other NBA players to average at least 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in a season are Wilt Chamberlain (twice), Elgin Baylor, Charles Barkley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.
Lance Stephenson no longer has the most points scored in New York boys high school basketball history.
Joseph Girard III of Glens Falls High School passed Stephenson — who has followed JG3’s exploits closely — on Tuesday night. Girard III now has 2,952 points, six more than Stephenson.
Stephenson had been New York’s record-holder since Feb. 15, 2009. He passed Sebastian Telfair for the mark, and before Telfair, the record-holder was Kenny Anderson.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK
James Harden, Houston: A Rockets-record 60 points, with 11 assists and 10 rebounds in Houston’s win over Orlando on Tuesday night. It was the first 60-point triple-double in NBA history.
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