An “extremely significant issue” facing the NBA is whether to rest star players.
That’s according to a memo NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent to all 30 NBA teams on Monday after the Golden State Warriors sat out their star players when they came to San Antonio on March 11 for a highly anticipated matchup against the Spurs. A week later the Cleveland Cavaliers employed a similar strategy when they played the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It’s become an issue because you have media outlets that have paid billions of dollars to the NBA to air games,” says Jabari Young, who covers the Spurs for the San Antonio Express-News. “These are nationally-televised games… so they’re looking at it like, ‘the product isn’t there’.”
Silver’s memo stated that the NBA Board of Governors would discuss the practice of resting players at its April 6 meeting.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who was one of the first coaches to routinely rest key players, said the practice is essential for extending players’ careers.
“In recent years, teams have gotten much more intelligent and they’ve studied how travel and the wear and tear of playing back to back games [impacts players],” Young says. “Gregg Popovich feels as though if he didn’t employ that rest tactic, maybe Tim Duncan wouldn’t have played 19 years in the NBA.”
Young says that resting star players also sets a tone for the team that encourages other players to step up.
Ultimately, Young says that the issue will have to be resolved through a compromise between media outlets and the NBA.
“You have to give teams carte blanche to run their organizations the way that they want to run them in order to possibly win championships,” he says. “If you’re going to rest guys, maybe just every Monday come out with a rest list for the week…Just give people advance notice, and I think that solves the issue.”
Written by Molly Smith.