NBA Commissioner Adam Silver knows the NBA is in a tough spot when it comes to rest — the sciences shows players perform better and are less likely to be injured with it, but for an entertainment business to have its biggest stars sitting games out (especially on the road or on national television) is bad optics.
“Back to your point about the science and the data, is that it’s not 82 games, it’s not the length of the season, it’s the time between the games and that there’s a direct correlation between fatigue and injury on the part of the players…” Silver said before Game 1 of these NBA Finals. “We had a good discussion with our teams at our last owners meeting, which was in April, and I think there is a recognition from teams that on one hand a certain amount of resting is just inevitable and appropriate to keep the players healthy, but that they shouldn’t be resting multiple starters on the same night,” Silver said. “And, incidentally, wherever possible, they should rest at home.”
Those concepts are headed to become guidelines from the competition committee to the teams, Silver told Marc Stein on ESPN Radio before Game 4.
“Where we’re heading is the adoption of guidelines that will be in place for next season which will strongly recommend that the extent they rest, they rest at home, and teams also not rest multiple starters on the same night,” Silver said. “Let’s see how that plays out.
“I’m reluctant to get into the business of directing these great coaches on minutes. As you know, players are often injured during the season, not to the point where they otherwise can’t play but maybe shouldn’t play. Then it’s a function of league doctors versus team doctors on how healthy a player is and whether it’s appropriate a player should be on the floor that night.
“I’d like to come up with a system that relies on the good faith of our teams that to the extent rest is necessary — and it is on occasion — that it’s done in an appropriate [manner] but the league executives are not dictating to coaches and GMs precisely what games their players should or shouldn’t be playing in.”
Yes, these are going to be just “guidelines” but the coaches ad GMs will know that if healthy players are rested, if this image problem continues, the guidelines could morph into something teams will like far less.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out next season. Will teams actually rest players at home? Forget that the teams want to make their season ticket holders and sponsors happy, the games at home tend to be spaced out. It’s 0n the road where the back-to-backs and four-in-five-nights come, and that’s where the teams need to rest their players.
Which is to say, the guidelines have to be paired with better, more spaced out scheduling from the NBA to make it all work.