Indiana Pacers shooting guard Buddy Hield will have to pay a $25,000 fine after gesturing with his middle finger on the bench during a game against the Charlotte Hornets Monday. The NBA announced the fine Wednesday.

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As the NBA Communications team noted, Hield made the gesture during the second quarter, trying to be discreet at first but eventually making it more explicit as he seemingly tried to communicate to someone on the court. Television cameras at that moment happened to be focused on Tyrese Haliburton, who was sitting next to Hield.

Though the NBA maintains a strict policy against obscene gestures during games, it is fairly obvious that Hield was not gesturing in a malicious manner. A previous instance of Hield making the same gesture on the court is Haliburton’s cover image on Twitter.

Hield’s gesture did not appear to have any impact on his performance, a credible one in which he scored 20 points with four rebounds and an assist. The Pacers lost 115-109. Typically a shooter first, Hield hasn’t been overwhelmingly consistent this season. offering a high ceiling but relatively low floor from game to game.

As for the Pacers in a general sense, Hield, Haliburton and Myles Turner have struggled as a core to compete consistently with the best teams in the league. With a 33-40 record, they are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference and could sneak into the play-in tournament with few prospects beyond that.

The team entered a new phase following the departure of Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday and Jeremy Lamb last offseason, and while playful obscene gestures between players suggest comradery, it will take some time for this team to adjust to an extent that it can feasibly compete deep in the postseason. Haliburton has delivered in his first season with the team, offering some semblance of hope as the team continues to build going forward.

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