4:18pm: The memo sent out by the NBA on this subject gives teams some leeway to rest players in non-nationally televised games, especially at the start of the season, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
According to Bontemps, clubs would be permitted to rest certain players in back-to-back sets, including if those players had “a substantial role on a team that advanced deep into the 2020 playoffs” or if they’re “returning to full strength after recovering from COVID-19.”
As Haynes explains, the updated policy will prohibit teams from resting healthy players for any high-profile game that is being nationally televised. Clubs who violate the policy could face fines worth up to $100K.
Additionally, absent extenuating circumstances, teams will be discouraged from resting multiple healthy players for the same game or sitting healthy players on the road, Haynes continues. If a team does decide to rest a healthy player, the player should be “visible to fans,” Haynes writes.
Reducing “load management” for healthy players has long been a goal for the NBA. And, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets, this year’s protocols won’t actually be too different from the ones in place last season.
Still, it’s a little surprising that the league would make the issue a priority in 2020/21, when teams will be playing a compressed schedule and many clubs won’t be hosting fans in their arenas at all due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Of course, with fewer fans than ever able to attend games in person, those nationally-televised contests will be of greater importance for the NBA in the coming months, so it makes sense that the league doesn’t want to see star players sitting out of those games.