The NBA is not going to make much money from fans filling its arenas this season. Which is all the more reason it needs to keep its national television partners — Turner/TNT and ESPN/ABC — happy.
The league sent out a memo to teams Monday updating the ground rules for resting players during the condensed season. The league will come down hard on teams that sit healthy players for nationally televised games — with fines of $100,000 or more — but it will cut some slack to teams and players in non-national games. Via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Yahoo Sources: On new Player Resting Policy, absent unusual circumstances, team should not rest multiple healthy players for same game and teams should not rest healthy players on road. And in situations when teams decide to rest healthy player, player should be visible to fans.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) December 7, 2020
However, the revised rules allow teams to rest players in certain situations that are not national games. Tim Bontemps of ESPN had the details.
The memo, which was obtained by ESPN, says that flexibility applies to teams playing back-to-back games and presents examples of possible scenarios, including, “to rest 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.”
Let’s use the obvious example to explain this: LeBron James will play on opening night and Christmas Day for the Lakers, but expect him to get some nights off soon after. The same will be true for many of the league’s other biggest names.
These regulations are not that much different than what the NBA has had in place for the past three years. However, in a year the television money is the league’s lifeline, there is a heftier fine for sitting the league’s stars. Teams can find their way around this — by a month into the season just about every star has enough bumps and bruises that he can be sat for a night with a legitimately sore back or ankle — but they also have kept up the spirit of the agreement for the most part.