Over the past few years, the issues of star NBA players being rested has become increasingly controversial. You could argue that it started with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, who would regular sit aging stars like Tony Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan during the second half of back-to-back games, or even just when the schedule got a little too congested.
Since then, teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors (among others) have followed suit. The rationale behind it makes sense — those teams have their eyes on winning an NBA championship, and it’s worth it to make a half-hearted effort against a sub-.500 team in February if it means your key players will be more rested for when the games really start to matter in the playoffs.
The flip side, though, is that fans are robbed of seeing some of the league’s biggest stars. For example, LeBron James only plays one game a year against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. If you buy tickets to that game because you want to watch the best player in the world, and then he decides to take the game off because he’s tired, you’re going to feel ripped off. It’s even worse for the league’s television partners, who pay billions for the rights to show games, only to have their ratings plummet when Steph Curry or Kevin Durant decide a Saturday night tilt against a Conference rival is a good time to rest up.
To counter that, the NBA is proposing new rule changes that will fine players for simply resting.
Sources: In proposal, Silver has discretion to fine teams for resting multiple players in single game, or healthy ones in national TV games.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 15, 2017
The NBA is doing more than threatening to fine players who rest, though. They are trying to come up with a more efficient schedule, that cuts down on travel time and reduces the amount of back-to-back games played for each team. They are also considering changed to the Draft Lottery, in an effort to eliminate tanking. Right now, the last place team has a 25% chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick. The proposed change would see the bottom three teams have the exact same chance, meaning it’s no longer a race to the bottom of the standings.
These rule changes haven’t officially been put in place yet, but commissioner Adam Silver is definitely pushing hard for them. Players will still rest, of course. They will just pay the fine. Or, more likely, come down with a mysterious “24-hour flu” that keeps them benched.