Hey, LeBron James and Jimmy Butler, take a rest when you need it – as long as it’s not on national television. Oh, LaMarcus Aldridge and Stephen Curry, not so fast.
The NBA, set to start its truncated 72-game schedule on Dec. 22, has alerted its teams about protocols for resting healthy players, which could include fines of up to $100,000, according to memos obtained by ESPN and Yahoo.
The NBA said it will give team flexibility on resting veteran players, especially those who just finished the NBA season two months ago, such as James and Butler in the NBA Finals. The league will not be as lenient for players who had a longer offseason, especially those who last played nine months ago when the pandemic halted action and ended eight non-contenders’ seasons.
However, the league does not want healthy players resting for high-profile games on ABC, ESPN or TNT, sitting out road games, or sitting out in groups of any game. When a player is resting, the league expects him to still be visible, because ESPN said teams will fill arena suites at 25% to 50% capacity with fans who are wearing masks, are distanced from each other and have tested negative for COVID-19.
The NBA has protected TV games from healthy scratches for years, but a fine of $100,000 could be felt more by teams whose finances have been strained by the pandemic. However, the league just spotted every team $30 million as a safeguard, the Sports Business Journal reported. The Clippers ate a $50,000 fine for unnecessarily resting Kawhi Leonard. The karma price was steeper in a second-round exit.
The rest topic is a bit much for anyone who dreams of playing the game for millions. Wilt Chamberlain and Pete Maravich are rolling over in their graves.