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NBA Eases Resting Rules

LeBron Kawhi
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is easing up on player resting policies for non-nationally televised games during the 2020-21 season, but reaffirmed it will still fine teams at least $100,000 for resting any healthy player for nationally televised games.

Pop’s Play: Resting first became a hot topic in 2012 when the San Antonio Spurs were fined $250,000 after head coach Gregg Popovich let Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green sit out of the team’s primetime matchup with LeBron James’ Miami Heat.

The issue was reignited in the 2018-19 campaign due to the Toronto Raptors’ “load management” plan for Kawhi Leonard. The league later said that that term fell under the same resting rules. 

Veteran Priority: Examples provided in a memo Monday for uses of the new rule include resting a “key veteran player who played a substantial role on a team that advanced deep into the 2020 Playoffs,” or to rest a player who is still returning to full strength after recovering from COVID-19.

  • The move should appeal to stars like James, who played until mid-October in the bubble, and expressed concerns about the next season starting just over two months later.
  • The 71-day break from the conclusion of the NBA Finals to opening night on Dec. 22 will mark the shortest offseason in the history of the NBA. An average offseason is usually about 155 days.

Teams have also been told not to rest multiple healthy players for the same game or rest healthy players on the road except for in “unusual circumstances.” In situations when teams decide to rest a healthy player, the league wants that player to be visible to fans.