For the second week in a row a team rested star players during Saturday night’s prime-time ABC game, as the Cavs sat out their big three of LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin Love in a 108-78 loss to the Clippers.

That happened a week after the Warriors rested three key players during that same national ABC window, and according to Cavs GM David Griffin, the league was not pleased.

Via ESPN:

Cleveland general manager David Griffin told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the league office called him shortly after the team announced its decision Saturday.

“Yeah, they were not happy,” Griffin said.

Joining the league in voicing their displeasure with the Cavs decision? A ton of fans on Twitter and elsewhere.

A small sampling:

Though there was at least one silver lining:

The Cavs had some decent reasoning, however. They were about to play a back-to-back in Los Angeles, and unlike the Warriors, two of the three rested players have had recent injury concerns. And as Griffin notes, he isn’t exactly incentivized to play everyone all the time.

But the GM also said it isn’t his job to appease the league and its television partners (which include ESPN).

“Yeah, and they’re paying me to win a championship,” he told Shelburne. “I’m not overly concerned about the perception of it. We literally had one guy rest tonight, and everybody else was reasonably injured, so I don’t feel like we did anything terribly egregious.”

And that’s actually a very reasonable point! LeBron was the healthy player who sat for the Cavs, which Tyronn Lue explained by saying he didn’t want LeBron to have to play more minutes while trying to carry a limited roster during a fairly meaningless game.

In fact, the only true meaning assigned to the game was the national window. And that’s going to keep happening; the NBA regular season is so long, with the playoffs so disproportionately important (and relatively easy to make, if you’re a good team) that this is going to keep happening unless something changes.

And the league office can make all the angry phone calls it wants, but all a contending team resting players has to do to win the argument is point to any of the franchises tanking across the league.

It’s unfortunate for fans who want to watch fun regular season games, and more unfortunate for the league’s broadcast partners, but with the current system it’s only going to continue to happen.

[ESPN]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.

  • CreightonRabs

    Then maybe the NBA should refund the $250K that the Spurs were whacked with a few years ago when Coach Popovich had the monumental audacity to rest three of his stars for a nationally televised game against Miami, which was the back-end of back-to-back games on the road. Or, does the NBA only fine teams they ‘don’t like’ like the Spurs?

    Speaking of optics, based on past precedent, both the Warriors and the Cavs should be in line for huge fines from the league offices. At least they better be. Otherwise, the league should just shut up and let coaches/GM run their teams how they see fit.

  • Marlon Nicholson

    Meanwhile ESPN/ABC &TNT are paying $2.5 billion per year for superstars to sit on the bench. Sounds like the networks who overpaid are getting more robbed than the fans and not to mention NCAA ON CBS gets more viewership

  • sportsfan365

    I doubt the fans who paid big bucks to see the league’s stars consider this “optics”.

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