NBA owners are expected to approve player-resting rules in September designed to cut back on teams benching healthy players for regular-season games, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly until league owners officially adopt the rules at their next Board of Governors meeting.
The rules will be in place by the start of the 2017-18 season, and there will be consequences for teams that do not adhere to them.
It’s a move that should please fans and the league’s business partners.
“There is an expectation among partners that teams are going to act in appropriate ways, (and) find, as I said, that right balance between resting on one hand and obligations to fans and partners on the other,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters at his April news conference.
Silver also understands a team’s desire to rest a healthy player.
“We are going into The Finals with a No. 1 seed in the West, No. 2 seed in the East, two teams that obviously had tremendous regular seasons, and every player is healthy,” Silver said in June. “So I don’t necessarily think the fan benefits by somehow if the league could require a player who wasn’t injured but was banged up to play in a game when the trainers felt that player needed rest. I don’t think the fan benefits by requiring that player to play and then that player getting injured."
Silver hinted at the idea of teams not resting multiple starters in the same game and not resting a starter for away games.
“There is a recognition from teams that on one hand a certain amount of resting is just inevitable and appropriate to keep the players healthy, but that they shouldn’t be resting multiple starters on the same night,” Silver told reporters at his NBA Finals news conference. “And, incidentally, wherever possible, they should rest at home. Because there, while I feel for the home fans, just as much as the away fans, the away fans may only get a chance to see that team once. And of course, the home team home fans can see that team many times.”
Don’t be surprised if there is a rule against resting healthy players for marquee national TV games.
“When we do have marquee network games, we the league office can do a better job at looking at obviously, the prior night in terms of back-to-back, but also the several days leading up to that game so that players are at peak performance for those games,” Silver said in April.
To that end, the league office sent a memo to teams detailing scheduling improvements – such as eliminating four games in five nights and reducing back-to-backs – that will help teams eliminate the need to rest healthy players.
Among the schedule changes:
- The league will start a week earlier this season, creating more days to play an 82-game schedule.
- Elimination of four games in five days and 18 games in 30 days.
- Reduction of back-to-backs – 14.9 per team down from 16.3 per team last season.
- Reduction of single-game road trips by 17%.