The NBA’s Board of Governors is set to vote on two proposals. One is a lottery reform proposal, which was created to help curb tanking by giving the three worst teams an equal 14 percent chance of winning the lottery. While this proposal will likely have no effect on the San Antonio Spurs any time soon, it is expected to face some resistance from small market teams who see the draft as their only logical means of picking up potential franchise players.
The other proposal, which is more likely to have an impact on the Spurs and contending teams in general, is the player rest guidelines. Originally it was reported that the league would “strongly recommend” that teams rest their players only during home games, and that multiple starters shouldn’t rest on the same night, and finally to avoid resting players for nationally televised games.
That’s all well and good for the fans, and to its credit the league is contributing to the solution by stretching the schedule, eliminating four games in five nights, avoiding putting nationally televised games on a SEGABABA, etc. (You can catch yourself up on all the schedule adjustments here.)
However, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed an extra something in the proposal that might give some pause, even though it is expected to pass with little to no resistance:
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
It would appear the proposal has gone from “strongly recommending” that teams follow these guidelines to all but requiring them to comply or face the consequences should Commissioner Adam Silver feel a player sat out of a game he could’ve played.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is fear of another Restgate, when then-Commissioner David Stern fined the Spurs a whopping $250,000 after Gregg Popovich sent four players home for a nationally televised game vs. Miami in 2012. It was the Spurs' fourth game in five nights and sixth game in nine, all of which were on the road. Most of the media and general public were on the Spurs’ side then, and as time went on more and more teams, especially contenders, picked up the Spurs’ resting practices as the league seemed reluctant to commit the same overreaction twice.
However, now that Silver believes he has done his part to give teams little need to rest for high profile games, he is expecting them to comply. On paper the proposal seems logical: if you did not play the previous night, there is no reason why everyone who is healthy enough to play in an NBA game shouldn’t be available to participate. It’s also understandable that the league would not want a team to disrespect another team’s home crowd, especially since they are the ones who paid money to attend the game. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some unanswered questions.
For instance, what’s stopping teams from listing a player as injured just to get extra rest in? If Steve Kerr has a nationally televised game in Boston and feels the need to rest Stephen Curry, who’s to say he can’t just claim Curry tweaked an ankle in warm-ups so he decided at the last minute to rest him to avoid further injury? The league certainly couldn’t counter that without looking like jackals, and they definitely wouldn’t want to risk losing one their most popular, ratings-driving superstars.
Which raises the question: how far will Silver go to make his point? One can presume he will exercise his powers to ensure the stars play in high profile, nationally televised games, but what about the other ones? Is there going to be one standard for contending teams, and another for the rest? (Hey, maybe playing healthy starters should be part of the lottery reform proposal!)
Also, the source says Silver can fine teams for resting multiple players in a single game, and it can be assumed he’s even more likely to do so if it’s at the expense of another team’s audience. However, it’s hard to imagine how much Magic fans would care if a couple of Spurs rested for a game at the Amway Center. Heck, they might even enjoy the increased chance at a win against a notable team, so if the opponent doesn’t care about a team resting, why should the league?
Finally, where is the line between a simple DNP-Coach’s Decision and DNP-Rest, and how will Silver determine which players have to play to avoid the league office’s radar? If I had to guess, there’s not a need to worry about Silver abusing his authority over resting, as he likely hopes that merely having the power will be deterrent enough.
Should the league be allowed to fine teams for resting players for the ‘wrong games’?
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