Andre Iguodala

Adam Silver tells owners resting players “an extremely signifcant issue for our league”

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Two weeks ago, Steve Kerr decided to rest Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala in a nationally televised showcase game against the Spurs.

Saturday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers sat LeBron James for rest, and sat Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving for the first half of a back-to-back, a nationally televised game against the Clippers (then played them the next night against the Lakers). League officials were not happy and called up the Cavaliers to let them know.

For two weeks, resting NBA players has become a major sports media talking point following what should have been marquee NBA games.

Monday, NBA owners got a memo from Adam Silver saying this topic is going to be addressed, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has called the practice of teams resting marquee players “an extremely signifcant issue for our league” in a memo to league owners Monday obtained ‎by ESPN.

In the memo, Silver informed teams that the issue will be a prime topic of discussion at the next NBA Board of Governors meeting April 6 in New York and warned of ‎”signifcant penalties” for teams that don’t abide by the league’s standing rules for providing ‎”notice to the league office, their opponent, and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest.”

He states that it is unacceptable for owners to be uninvolved or defer decision-making on this topic to others in their organizations, who may not have the same awareness of the impact these decisions can have on “fans and business partners,” the reputation of the league and “perception of our game.”

It’s not going to be a simple issue to solve. Expect Silver to sit down with teams, the players’ union, and other stakeholders this summer to try and hammer out a compromise that can work for everyone

Some of the responsibility comes back to the league and it’s schedule makers — you can’t slot a team into a Saturday night showcase game for a broadcast partner and have it be the eighth game in 13 days with a couple cross-country flights involved (as was the case with the Warriors and their decision to rest guys). If the NBA wants to put together marquee television matchups and tout them like playoff games, they need to schedule them like playoff games with plenty of rest.

“It sucks, there are some times guys have to rest and some guys need rest,” LeBron said after the Cavaliers win Sunday. “It’s a long, strenuous season, and the NBA does the best it can putting the schedule together but you’re going to have back-to-backs and you’re going to have certain games where certain things fall on certain nights. But coach’s job is to figure out a way to get a team to compete for a championship, and not compete for a game. And it sucks at certain times because you only play in certain cities once, or you only play certain teams once on their home floor. Me personally, I want to play in every game, I wanted to play last night but my coach said he felt it was best I didn’t play last night so I didn’t and I’m going to go with my coach.”

It’s not an easy issue to solve, in part because the league is trying to focus on player health and safety, and studies show that players are 3.5 times more likely to be injured in the second game of a back-to-back when muscles are fatigued. Coaches like Kerr or the Cavaliers’ Tyronn Lue have to be thinking about being healthy and rested in May and June, and that means getting guys rest in March.

However, the league’s broadcast partners — TNT and ESPN/ABC — are understandably frustrated with the practice. Like fans buying tickets, they are shelling out a lot of money for these games only to find out they are not getting the product they thought they were purchasing.

Of course, LeBron noted those broadcast partners make a lot of their money back in the postseason when viewership is up and guys do not rest.

“I’ve been part of six straight Finals, and every season the Finals is bigger and bigger and better and better, and more people are tuning in. So I don’t see a problem with people watching,” LeBron said.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love all sitting out for Cavaliers against Clippers

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It’s happened for the second Saturday in a row.

Saturday night’s NBA showcase game on ABC is going to have a lot less glamor — Cleveland is going to rest LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, coach Tyronn Lue said.

Last Saturday, Golden State’s Steve Kerr created a minor controversy when he sat Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala against the Spurs (who were without Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tony Parker due to injury). Kerr did it because that was the eighth game in 13 days, with a couple of cross-country flights for the Warriors.

Love is coming off missing time for a back injury and is not playing in both ends of a back-to-back (so Lue is sitting him for the first game rather than the Laker game Sunday), and Irving had a mild sprained ankle in their last game.

While the Cavaliers are on the first game of a back-to-back starting a four-game road swing, that game is in the same building Sunday against the Lakers. Before this, the Cavaliers hadn’t played since Thursday and were not in an unusually dense part of the schedule. That said, LeBron has had little rest this season and a crazy workload, and Lue has said he wanted to get his key players rest heading into the playoffs.

But all three in a nationally televised game?

This is again going to lead to a talking point around the league and on sports talk radio, plus you can be sure someone with ABC/ESPN/Disney is calling up Adam Silver to remind them exactly how much they paid in broadcast rights for quality games.

This summer the NBA league office, the players union, and representatives from the teams need to sit down and have a discussion about resting players. The analytics undeniably show rested players not only perform better but are far less likely to be injured — teams with massive financial investments in player and looking at the big picture understandably think rest first. However, there is a tipping point where fans and league sponsors are going to push back.

And we seem close to that point.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says LaMarcus Aldridge has dealt with heart issue all year

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Spurs star LaMarcus Aldridge was cleared to return to full basketball activities and will start Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers with no restrictions, the team announced.

Aldridge missed two games after being diagnosed with a minor heart arrhythmia, but San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich revealed Wednesday that the 31-year-old forward has been concerned about the condition all season.

“He’s dealt with this all year long, which nobody really knew about,” Popovich said. “Being a consummate pro, he was able to do everything that was necessary to bring this to some sort of a conclusion. That wasn’t easy throughout the year. He’s gone through some procedures and had to do some things that are not pleasant. He’s shown a lot of class and a lot of fortitude in the way he’s done it all.”

Aldridge was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome – an abnormality that can cause a rapid heartbeat – as a rookie in 2007. He missed the final seven games of his first season while he was with Portland and also was held out 10 days in the preseason in 2011.

This latest bout with heart arrhythmia kept him out less than a week, a big relief to the five-time All-Star as he and the San Antonio chase Golden State for the top seed in the Western Conference. The 31-year-old went through a bevy of tests and consulted with several experts before being cleared to return, giving the Spurs a much-needed post presence and scorer.

“We’re obviously thrilled about that, but more importantly thrilled that the doctors feel that he’s fine in the sense that we’re not putting him in danger or anything like that,” Popovich said. “That’s the most important part.”

Aldridge told the team’s staff that he “felt a little odd” during the second half of San Antonio’s game in Oklahoma City on March 9, which led to the diagnosis. The Spurs announced last Friday that he would be out indefinitely, not taking any chances with the situation despite Aldridge’s history of having little trouble returning to play after two previous episodes in his career.

“We are thankful that LaMarcus will be able to rejoin the team,” Spurs GM RC Buford said in a statement issued by the team. “All of us have been impressed with the professionalism and grace he has shown in dealing with this difficult situation.”

The Spurs desperately need Aldridge if they are going to leapfrog the scuffling Warriors for the top spot in the West. He is averaging 17.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season.

San Antonio trails Golden State, which is idle, by a half-game for the league’s best record entering Wednesday’s game.

San Antonio’s pursuit of Golden State seemed to be in serious jeopardy last weekend, when Aldridge was shelved indefinitely and Kawhi Leonard was forced to sit out against the Warriors on Saturday night while going through the NBA’s concussion protocol.

But the Spurs beat the Warriors after Golden State coach Steve Kerr rested Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala and Leonard returned on Monday after missing just the one game to lead San Antonio to a win over Atlanta.

Andre Iguodala: ‘Wrong time to express myself’

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So much of the response to Andre Iguodala‘s racially loaded comments has focused on relatively superficial issues: his use of profanity, whether he’s frustrated with the Warriors’ recent losing, how Steve Kerr reacted.

A reminder what Iguodala said about Golden State’s loss to the Timberwolves and Kerr’s plan to rest key players against the Spurs the following night, via  Chris Haynes of ESPN and Anthony Slater of The Mercury News:

“We gotta score more than the other team,” Iguodala told reporters, after being asked what led to their second consecutive loss. “Yep, they want dumb n—as, so I’m going to give y’all a dumb n—a.”

What would dumb [n-word] say? Just play harder. Figure it out. Change gonna come. Ain’t that what we should say? Change gonna come.

Do what master say.

Yesterday, Iguodala addressed those comments and hinted at an underlying issue.

Iguodala, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

“It probably was the wrong time to express myself,” Iguodala said after practice. “But we all have our own opinions. We all have our own feelings. I feel like we are entitled to them. We try to pick and choose the time to do it, and who we choose to share it with, because some may not understand where I’m coming from, which is to be expected.

“The only reason I feel like it’s the wrong time is because it puts my team in that situation and my coaching staff in that situation. I have a great relationship with Steve Kerr, and he knows that.”

“I wish I wouldn’t have put my teammates and the organization in that situation,” Iguodala said. “But it doesn’t change how I feel about certain situations. You can’t give certain people power, and I gave certain people power. Live and learn from the situation, and move forward.”

Iguodala also made a point directly to the media:

I like to play mind games with you guys, but it still doesn’t take away from how someone makes you feel. A lot of guys may feel a certain way, but they don’t know how to express it. But I may have chosen the wrong way to express it. But that’s my personal way of getting back at you guys a little bit.

Iguodala did put Kerr in a potentially awkward position with his “master” remarks. That might not have been Iguodala’s intent, but the outcome was foreseeable.

But I think there’s valid media criticism behind Iguodala’s protest. I don’t know that, because he was purposefully vague and insisted he was making an inside joke. But there’s a dynamic between the largely white media and mostly black players that is worth addressing. The media sometimes asks questions after losses setting up players to give simple-sounding answers. The media does hold power to shape how players are perceived. The media doesn’t always treat players fairly. I have no problem with anyone raising questions about the entire process.

That said, Iguodala should know that when he addresses the media – especially on camera – he isn’t just speaking with the reporters in front of him. He’s talking to the entire world, and his comments will be relayed without the proper context always attached. (Ironically, that’s an element of the power dynamic I think Iguodala is addressing.) The reporters are just a conduit to the general public.

Iguodala often seems like he’s not bothered by the chaos he causes with mysterious statements and vague tweets, and that’s fine. I’ve always found that to be an implicit protest of how athletes’ words are consumed, which is why I see Friday’s interview as just fitting into his larger objective. But this case spun out of control, because many assumed he was criticizing Kerr.

As much as he might hope the narrative-setting worked differently, Iguodala was at the whim of the critics and how they’d perceive and disseminate his words.

I’m not sure whether this backfired on Iguodala or he just proved to himself how right he is.

Isiah Thomas asks Draymond Green, “Why’d you guys forfeit the game” to the Spurs?

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What if the NBA set up a nationally televised showdown between the two best teams in the NBA and no stars showed up?

It happened Saturday night when the Spurs beat the Warriors. San Antonio was without three key players due to legitimate injuries (Tony Parker‘s back, Kawhi Leonard‘s concussion, and LaMarcus Aldridge‘s heart condition). However, Steve Kerr and the Warriors chose to rest Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala because it was the end of a long road trip and they had played tired. With that, the Spurs won easily and are just half a game back of the Warriors.

On Player’s Only Night on TNT (broadcasting the Hawks/Spurs), former Bad Boy Piston Isiah Thomas teased the Warriors’ Draymond Green asking, “Why’d y’all forfeit the game?”

Draymond took it in stride, and the thing is it wasn’t his call anyway. Steve Kerr gets the blame, but frankly, it was him, the team trainers, and the team management that all thought their team looked tired and needed to get their legs fresh. Rest in that game and they have three nights off before the next one, back at home.

What to do about players resting in big, nationally televised games — and even just road games in general — needs to be a topic discussed around the league this summer. It’s not something just the league can or should make an edict on, rather the league, players union, team representatives and others need to sit in a room and come to some kind of consensus. Don’t bet on it happening soon, but the conversation needs to begin.