Joe Paige | Sports Editor
There’s just 5 weeks left until a new NBA season tips off, and the NBA board of governors plan to start the season fresh by cleaning up some of the mess that has been facing the league for quite some time now. A consistent subject that NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been struggling to crack down on, has been finding a way to get a handle on teams taking advantage of load managing during the regular season. The biggest issue surrounding load management is how star players are willingly sitting out during road games, which is where many fan bases get their only one chance to see a visiting star play live. Last month, the league placed a new rule requiring players to play a minimum of 65 games to qualify for end-of-season awards like the MVP. Most recently, the NBA board of governors voted on a new policy that will prevent a team from resting two star players for the same game. According to league sources, these rules will prohibit teams from resting healthy players “for any high-profile, nationally televised game” and say teams should not rest multiple healthy players for the same game.
The league states that the first violation of these new rules is $100,000 for the team, a second violation is $250,000, and $1.25 million if violated a third time after that. They’ve defined a “star” player will be defined as someone who's made the All-Star or All-NBA team within the last three seasons. This rule is especially important to note when considering teams who do or don’t have any or many star players in their main lineup such as Washington, or Indiana, or even San Antonio with this years #1 pick in Victor Wembanyama. These are competitive teams that don’t have any players that would fit this star player criteria in their starting lineup.
Teams are also now no longer able to do a do a long-term shutdown of a star player without a valid injury report. This will typically occur often towards the end of the season when a team sends home their star player to protect him and potentially boost the team’s lottery odds. Last season, Damian Lillard did not play in the last 10 games of the regular season as the Trail Blazers made a late decision to finally transition into a rebuilding phase, but Portland wouldn’t be able to do that this year if Lillard wasn’t injured. The same thing happened in Oklahoma City with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, as well as Bradley Beal in Washington.
There are a few teams that instantly come to mind once this news broke, but the main team that immediately sticks out are the LA Clippers. LA has been arguably the leader of this load management movement, constantly sitting out their two franchise players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Just this past season, the duo only shared the court for a total of 38 out the 82 games. Now, healthy star players cannot sit out a nationally televised game or any of the in-season tournament games. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how LA turns out by the end of this regular season.
This new rule probably shouldn’t be too much of a major factor in how the new season should pan out. But there is bound to be increased discussion surrounding certain players sitting out a nationally televised game, or a team will suddenly get struck with a $100K fine. But teams most likely will eventually find out how to work around these rules and manage to get their player rest in the middle of the season.
Wojnarowski, Adrian. “NBA Board of Governors Approves Tougher Rest Rule, Penalties.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 13 Sept. 2023, www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/38392750/source-nba-board-governors-approve-tougher-rest-rule.