Adam Silver thinks the NBA’s biggest problem is resting healthy players, and the league is going to start fining teams who do that.
If the NBA’s largest issue is rest, Adam Silver has the league in an excellent place. In addition to draft lottery reform, the commissioner instituted a new policy where he can fine teams a minimum of $100,000 if they rest players for “high-profile, nationally televised games,” as reported by Jeff Zillgitt.
Silver elaborated extensively on the change:
A formal policy on resting healthy players was approved. Beginning this season, teams are prohibited from doing that on “high-profile, nationally televised” games, with violations subject to a fine of at least $100,000. Teams are advised not to rest multiple healthy players from the same game or to rest healthy players from road games. And when a player is given a game off, he should be visible and available to interact with fans. Discipline is possible for all of the above situations, though Silver said his preference would be to avoid that as much as possible. “I recognize that there are legitimate reasons for sitting down players at certain periods of time,” the commissioner said. “It comes down to a sense of obligation our teams have toward the league that they’re a part of.”
The owners were the ones who helped approve this new policy, and it’s not as outlandish as it sounds. Furthermore, the reason resting healthy players became a thing was because of how poorly scheduled games were last year, and there were multiple instances where the second game of a back-to-back was primetime on ABC or ESPN. This season starts on Oct. 17, 10 days earlier than normal. Silver also eliminated the stretches of four games in five nights and cut down on back-to-backs and the length of road trips.
“It ultimately is my hope that the rules go in the drawer and that teams step up here and see that there is a larger obligation to our fans, to the basketball community,” said Silver.
Gregg Popovich is notorious for resting players. He wants them healthy for the postseason. That’s nothing new, but a few teams took it too far, and the NBA conspiracy theorist in me wonders if they did it to get Adam Silver’s attention.
On Mar. 11, the San Antonio Spurs hosted the Golden State Warriors in what was set to be a grudge match that had you on the edge of your seat. The start time was 8:30 PM Eastern on a Saturday. Steve Kerr sat Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala one night after they lost a heartbreaker to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Cleveland Cavaliers rested their Big Three a week before Golden State. Tyronn Lue did it against the Miami Heat on Mar. 4, giving LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love the night off. It wasn’t as big of a deal as when Golden State did it, but it caught the league’s eye. When two teams are resting three of the four best players (LeBron, Durant, Curry), it’s time to take a closer look to prevent that from happening.
There is, however, a common denominator among these organizations. Resting players doesn’t usually happen until later in the year when a team already a lock to make the postseason. It gets tricky for the league because a lot of fans want to see LeBron or Steph healthy in the playoffs, but the NBA wants to put forth the best product for those spending money to see the games lives.
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“The owners all understood when we were discussing them that sort of the devil is in the details here in terms of how it is we will enforce them, and we’re going to our best,” said Silver. “But my hunch is that once we see them in operation, we’ll be back having additional discussions as to just the right way to calibrate it.
“But at the end of the day, it comes down to our teams. it comes down to a sense of obligation our teams have toward the league that they’re a part of.”
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