One of the big debates in the NBA over the past decade has been about “load management,” or the idea of resting healthy players during some regular-season games so they’re fresher for the playoffs. Teams have gone to this strategy a fair bit, which has caused complaints for fans attending particular games in the hopes of seeing road-team stars. It’s also led to complaints from viewers and from broadcasters.
The NBA has tried various approaches to deal with over-resting of healthy players. The league’s general policy is that teams are not allowed to rest healthy players on the road unless there are “unusual circumstances,” or to rest them in nationally-televised home games. That policy is enforced with fines, which can be at least $100,000 for breaking the national TV protocols around resting healthy players, but are smaller for non-national games.
And the “unusual circumstances” list is broad, including more flexibility for back-to-back games and consideration of players’ age and injury histories, so we don’t often see a ton of fines handed down over this. The Brooklyn Nets got one Thursday for “for failing to comply with league policies governing injury reporting” ahead of a Dec. 10 road game against the Indiana Pacers, though, which saw them sit eight players: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, Seth Curry, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris and T.J. Warren. Here’s more on that from ESPN’s Nick Friedell, including the argument from head coach Jacque Vaughn (seen above during that Dec. 10 game) that the injuries they cited had been previously documented:
“I think everything that’s been reported today has been documented,” Vaughn said prior to the game against the Pacers last week. “And so we know that Seth [Curry] and Joe [Harris] had offseason ankle [surgeries], there’s no argument to that. Nic [Claxton] didn’t play last game because he had hamstring tightness, there’s no argument to that. Kevin’s leading the league in minutes, there’s no argument to that. Royce [O’Neale] had a personal reason, he’s missing the next game, there’s no argument to that.”
Vaughn also offered an apology to fans in Indiana who had paid to watch Durant play — only to learn hours prior to the game that he wouldn’t be on the floor.
“I would say to that fan that I’m looking out for Kevin Durant’s future,” Vaughn said. “I’m looking out for the organization’s future. And really apologize if this was the game you chose. But he’s given all that he’s had in every game since the beginning of this season.”
This was not a nationally-televised game, so the at-least-$100,000 fine level did not apply. But the NBA still apparently wasn’t pleased with how the Nets handled this. And what’s particularly funny is that the shorthanded Nets won that game 136-133. That wasn’t enough to keep them from adding to their long list of fines in the past few years, though.
[ESPN; photo from Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports]