On Monday, the ongoing controversy over managing loads and resting players continued, thanks to a new policy implemented by the National Basketball Association. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, teams this season will be fined at least $ 100,000 if they are found to be resting healthy players for nationally televised games.
Last season, the league tried to clarify the rules regarding load management, which is when it introduced the rule that players would not participate in national television matches. It also required teams to rest players at home instead of walking on the road, and ordered institutions not to 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 Kawhi Leonard was sitting in front of the Milwaukee Bucks. Although they were only punished because then head coach Doc Rivers made post-match comments that contradict the team’s official statement about Leonard’s health.
As we saw in the Clippers incident, it’s relatively easy for teams to circumvent these rules by announcing that a player has been injured rather than saying they are resting. While the league has procedures set up to get teams to jump through some hoops such as notification and injury documentation, it is fairly easy to provide evidence that a player has an ankle arthritis or hamstring tightness.
While there might be two teams setting an example early in the season, it’s hard to imagine these types of fines becoming a regular occurrence. Moreover, even if they are, $ 100,000 for the NBA franchise isn’t much, and many might see it as a worthwhile investment to keep their big men healthy.
Additionally, even if it were true that these fines eventually became scarce, their execution prior to this season seems like a silent decision by the NBA. With the new intense schedule and the spread of COVID-19 across the country, it will be more difficult than ever for teams to get past the season in one piece. Introducing another punitive measure wouldn’t help matters either.