NBA approves new rules, introduces harsher penalties in latest effort to curb load management

The way NBA teams decide to manage the amount of rest players receive throughout the 82-game regular season is widely debated seemingly on a yearly basis.

The league has tried to address the load management issue by making incremental changes in recent years, such as scheduling a limited number of back-to-back games, but none of those changes has made a significant impact on correcting the problem.

On Wednesday the league’s competition committee presented some new recommendations that would result in harsher financial penalties for teams that rest players in specific situations.


Kawhi Leonard, #2, and Paul George, #13 of the Los Angeles Clippers, watch the action from the bench during the second half against Sacramento Kings at Arena on December 3, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The NBA’s Board of Governors voted in favor of a new player participation policy, which would restrict teams from resting a star player during a nationally televised game or for the in-season tournament games, according to a report from ESPN.


If a team still decides to sit a star player, it would face the following penalties: $100,000 for a first violation,
$250,000 for a second violation, and $1 million more than the previous fine for any additional violation, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

Any player who has been named to an All-NBA team or has been an All-Star at any point in the past three seasons, would be characterized by the league as a star player.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James sit on the bench

(L-R) Carmelo Anthony, #7, Anthony Davis, #3, and LeBron James, #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers sit on the bench during their game against the Golden State Warriors in the second half at Chase Center on April 7, 2022, in San Francisco, California. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

If one or more star players sit out of national TV or an in-season tournament game, the NBA can open an investigation. However, if a given team contact the league at least seven days before a back-to-back game, a request can be submitted to rest a star player who is 35 or older as of the first night of the season. 

Furthermore, if a star player has logged 34,000 minutes of playing time in the regular season or has been on the court for a combined 1,000 regular season and playoff games, their team can seek approval for missing the game in nationally televised game or an in-season tournament contest.

Giannis Antetokounmpo sits on the bench

Giannis Antetokounmpo, #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks, sits on the bench during the first half of a game against the Brooklyn Nets at Fiserv Forum on March 9, 2023, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Some big-name players who would qualify to miss games in these situations include four-time NBA champion LeBron James, Phoenix Suns superstar Kevin Durant and Golden Star Warriors guard Stephen Curry.


 The policy will go into effect at the beginning of the 2023-24 season.

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