NBA expected to toughen rules on resting stars

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers laughs on the bench with Paul George #13 during a 138-100 Clippers win over the San Antonio Spurs at Arena on January 26, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

NBA team owners are expected to pass tighter rules against resting star players this week, including larger fines for missed games by multiple All-Star players, according to multiple reports Monday.

Following a recommendation by the NBA’s competition committee, the board of governors is expecting to impose tougher regulations against “load management” on Wednesday, according to ESPN and The Athletic, citing unnamed sources.

The new policy would prevent teams from resting more than one player who has been an NBA All-Star or All-NBA player over the past three seasons, according to the reports.

Teams could be fined $100,000 for the first violation, $250,000 for the second and $1 million more than the prior punishment for each subsequent violation, ESPN detailed.

The move comes as the NBA looks at securing new media rights deals and ensuring star players aren’t absent for major televised games and the NBA’s new in-season tournament could ease worries by potential partners.

The league has already made a move to discourage players from sitting out without an injury or personal issues, mandating players compete in at least 65 of 82 regular-season games to be eligible for awards such as NBA Most Valuable Player.

Players would like to see the NBA address the demand issues that push them to manage their rest during the NBA’s six-month regular season, especially a the new in-season event debuts in November and December.

The NBA league office will investigate resting as a method of enforcement, including independent medical reviews, ESPN reported.

A memo obtained by ESPN from the league says it will be up to teams to manage player availability so no more than one “star” player is absent for a game and that stars are available for nationally telecast games and in-season tournament contests.

It also wants teams to balance the number of one-game absences by a star player between home and road games with a preference for such absences to happen in home contests.

Teams must ensure players sitting out to rest are at games and visible to spectators, according to the memo, and teams must avoid any long-term shutdown when players are absent or in a reduced role regarding game integrity issues.

There will be excused absences by the NBA, according to the reports, with pre-approved back-to-back rest games allowed for players who are 35 or older when the season begins or have played 34,000 regular-season minutes or 1,000 combined playoff and regular-season games.

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