5 Ways Teams Will Sidestep New NBA Rest Rules
The new Player Participation Policy has good intentions but big holes.
There was big news in the NBA this week. The league announced a new Player Participation Policy (PPP) meant to curb load-management practices by teams and discourage stars from taking games off. If teams violate the rules more than two times, they’ll be subject to fines totaling more than $1 million.
This stuff falls right in my wheelhouse, and subscribers can be assured that I will take big swings on this topic here at The Finder. This week, I spoke to several GMs, trainers and coaches about the PPP. The best way to characterize the general consensus? An eye-roll.
One high-level team executive referred to the new rules as “window dressing” to placate business partners ahead of the mega TV deal negotiations. Another GM I spoke to viewed it as nothing more than a PR tactic to address the league’s branding issues, likening it to “the Allen Iverson dress code” of 2005.
I tend to agree. Depending on who you talk to in the league circles, load management is not an issue, it is the issue. The NBA constantly fights the perception – often fueled by former NBA players on its flagship broadcasts – that NBA stars (or “bums” as Charles Barkley called them) make way too much money to rest games.
The stars resting problem is a regular-season one and the NBA needs the regular season to matter because billions of TV dollars depend on fans thinking it matters. (My preferred solution to the load-management problem, as pie-in-the-sky as it might be, is to establish a 58-game schedule – play every team twice, one home, one away. But that’s not what we’re discussing today.)
We’re here to talk about the big news – the PPP. I don’t think it will put a dent into the load management problem. According to research at The Finder, star players are about 50 percent more likely to miss a zero-days-rest game (second night of a back-to-back) than all other games. Most of those stars will continue to do so because teams are going to continue to game the system.
As one GM put it, “We will always find a way around it.”
In my discussions with league insiders, here’s how they might do it.