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Former Director of Officials Advising Blazers on Player-Ref Relations

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Don Vaden is helping Portland understand the complexity of in-game foul calls.

Detroit Pistons v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Don Vaden, former Director of Officials, is already making an impact in his consultant role with the Portland Trail Blazers. Hired back on Jan. 19, Vaden comes from a long history with the NBA, serving as a referee for 15 seasons before becoming Director of Officials from 2011-16.

Now, he’s helping Blazers players get the most out of their relationships with officials, as Seerhat Sohi of SB Nation details:

“In Minnesota, specifically, CJ definitely got fouled on a three,” Meyers Leonard said. “We had a couple instances in Minnesota where a guy could have fallen on a three-point attempt but didn’t, similar to what [Timberwolves guard] Jamal Crawford does.

[Don] says, ‘you gotta fall. Let them know you got hit.’”

For the team’s focal point in Damian Lillard, getting to the line — as a career 88 percent free throw shooter — is an easy way to generate points. He knows when to emphasize a foul:

“Sometimes, I might not get a call because I try to score the ball. I’m trying to make shots instead of sell the contact, but I’ve had to adapt. Sometimes the contact is there, and you’ve got to make it obvious to the referee, because it’s a fast game. They’re the best at their jobs, but they miss things, so you gotta make it obvious to them.”

Vaden is making an active effort with rookie Zach Collins, who was known for a high foul rate (2.7 per game) in college:

For Blazers rookie Zach Collins, working with Vaden ... has been instructive. Simple things like waiting until a timeout to voice a complaint instead of in the heat of the moment can allow rookies to communicate their grievances while avoiding getting a technical foul or garnering a reputation as a loudmouth.

The National Basketball Players Association and the National Basketball Referees Association will host a joint summit during All-Star Weekend to discuss each side’s position on relations that have seemingly grown tense this season.

You can read the rest of Sohi’s piece here, which includes Evan Turner’s skeptical response to referee foul calls.