MIAMI (AP) — There is no NBA mandate urging teams to not rest players in the preseason.
The dog days of the exhibition schedule have arrived, with plenty of stars sitting out Monday night’s games. Among those getting the night off to rest: Boston stars Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, Miami’s Goran Dragic and the Orlando trio of Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Bismack Biyombo. Indiana rested a half-dozen players, as did Sacramento – including Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph.
“It’s hard to play 14 guys,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said.
Houston’s Chris Paul didn’t play in New York because of a right shoulder contusion, the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis (hip) and Frank Ntilikina (knee) sat out that same game with soreness, Detroit’s Avery Bradley was sidelined by a turned ankle and Orlando’s Evan Fournier (ankle) and Terrence Ross (hamstring) also didn’t play because of minor injuries. Sacramento’s De'Aaron Fox was out with a sore back.
When the regular season starts next week, resting players who are healthy enough to play will be officially frowned upon by a new NBA policy. But for now, it just makes sense for clubs to either limit minutes or not take unnecessary risks.
That being said, teams are still working. Joerger knows his team needs a day off – but the Kings are practicing Tuesday anyway.
“We have way too much stuff to do, and not just for opening night,” Joerger said.
In Dragic’s case, Miami is being smart since he played for two months this summer, helping Slovenia win the European championship and returning to Miami just two days before the first practice of training camp. He hasn’t played much in the preseason.
“This is all relatively part of the plan I had sketched out,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I wanted him to be in training camp … and he really wanted to be there too, just to establish the right tone out of camp. We want to try to strike that balance of keeping him in shape and making sure he’s peaking for the first game, not going the other way. I think we’re headed that way.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the lineup he went with Monday allows him to take a good look at what will be Boston’s second unit.
“I feel really good about where we are, considering we’re 13 days in,” Stevens said. “I don’t think we’re by any means a finished product and I think we can get better.”