On Monday, the constant debate on load management and resting players continued, thanks to a new policy implemented by the NBA. According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, in this season teams will be fined a minimum of $100,000 if they are found to be resting healthy players for games televised nationally.
In the last season, the league tried to clarify the rules surrounding load management, which is when it introduced the rule about players not sitting out national television games. It also required teams to rest players at home rather than on the road, and instructed organizations to not rest multiple players in the same game.
Last season, the Los Angeles Clippers were notably fined $50,000 for refusing to follow those protocols when they had Kawhi Leonard sit out against the Milwaukee Bucks. Although, they were only penalized because then-head coach Doc Rivers made comments postgame that contradicted the team’s official statement about Leonard’s health.
As seen in the Clippers incident, it is relatively easy for teams to circumvent these rules by declaring that a player is injured instead of saying they are resting. While the league has procedures set up to make teams jump through some hoops such as notifying it and documenting the injury, it is fairly simple to provide proof that a player is suffering from a sore ankle or tight hamstring.
While there may be a couple of teams that the league makes an example out of early in the season, it is hard to imagine these types of fines becoming a regular occurrence. Besides, even if they were, $100,000 to an NBA franchise is not much, and many might see it as a worthwhile investment to keep their big men healthy.
Additionally, even if it is true that these fines end up being rare, implementing them before this season seems like a tone-deaf decision by the NBA. With a new condensed schedule and COVID-19 prevalent across the country, it is going to be more challenging than ever for teams to get through the season in one piece. Introducing another punitive measure will not help matters either.