The NBA is considering taking decisive action against teams that choose to bench their marquee players during nationally televised games. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the NBA Competition Committee is proposing a policy that would introduce significant fines for such practices.
The proposal suggests:
- A fine of $100,000 for the first violation.
- A sharp increase to $250,000 for a second infraction.
- An additional $1 million for each subsequent violation.
However, questions remain about the specifics of the policy. Will a team be fined for benching just one star, or does it require multiple star players to be sidelined to incur a penalty?
What is a star player?
The definition of “star players” is said to encompass players who have achieved accolades like making the All-Star team or being named to the All-Pro team within the last three seasons, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The NBA‘s move addresses the recent trend of “load management,” where teams rest their top talents, such as LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers, to ensure they remain in prime condition for playoff runs.
In 2020, the NBA tried to curb this by instituting a $100,000 fine for teams that rested healthy players during games broadcasted nationally. However, this was met with mixed results due to certain flexibilities like players’ age, injury history, and back-to-back games schedules.
ESPN has provided details from a league memo that sheds light on how the proposed policy may work in practice:
- Only one star player should be rested per game.
- Star players should be available for games with national coverage and in-season tournaments.
- Teams should distribute the absence of a star player equally between home and road games, with a preference for home games.
- Extended or near-extended periods where a star player is benched or has a significantly reduced role, impacting the game’s integrity, are discouraged.
- Rested healthy players should be present and easily visible to the fans during games.
The fate of this proposed policy rests in the hands of the Board of Governors, who will determine its implementation during their meeting on Wednesday.