The NBA is cracking down on teams resting stars. In a recent memo, league commissioner Adam Silver threatened teams with “significant penalties” for resting stars without giving the league appropriate notice. This probably won’t be much of an issue for the Sacramento Kings (I doubt the league cares if the Kings rest Arron Afflalo or Kosta Koufos on any given night), but it may still have some unintended consequences.
First, it’s worth noting that the league will face unintended consequences regardless of how they handle the problem with player rest. And yes, it is a problem. There are legitimate medical reasons for resting players, but teams are using rest as a tactic in ways that go far beyond health. Teams are resting players in matchups where they don’t want to reveal strategy, or allow potential playoff opponents to test new tactics. And they’re doing this in nationally televised games, which impacts the league’s perception with casual fans and advertisers. Ultimately this is entertainment, and the league is right to take steps to correct the issue.
But the details reported by Sam Amick raised a different concern for me as a Kings fan:
Silver also implored owners to take an active role in managing rosters and making sure basketball operations staffers understood the business ramifications of sitting players.
The commissioner just implored Vivek to be more involved in roster management. I guess we finally have confirmation that the league conspires against Sacramento.
Jokes aside, it’s a difficult problem to address, and I don’t think getting owners more involved is the answer. Want to end tanking? De-incentivize it by making the draft lottery less weighted towards the worst teams. Want to stop players from being strategically rested? Fines might work. Requiring more advanced notifications can work, so they league could switch which game will be broadcast. But ultimately teams are going to rest players, even if it means making up an injury.
There’s no easy solution to this issue, but requiring owners to meddle more in their roster isn’t the answer.