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The NBA Has Reportedly Increased Fines For Resting Healthy Players During National TV Games

The NBA season tips off on December 22 with the league’s marquee Christmas Day slate coming on just the fourth day of the season. The league announced the first half of its schedule on Friday and as such teams know exactly when they’ll be on national TV for the first half of the season.

That may be more important information than usual, as teams begin to plan out how they will take care of their star players, particularly for those teams who played deep into the NBA Bubble in Orlando. With the two month turnaround from the end of the Finals to the start of the season, there has been the expectation, particularly for a team like the Lakers, that they will be plenty cautious with older stars such as LeBron James and resting will be even more prevalent early in this season as guys try to round back into shape.

The league also seems keenly aware of this fact and issued an update to its resting policy adopted in 2017, per Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, that will increase the fine for resting healthy players during a national TV game and on the road — although the latter seems far less important in a season that will start with very few teams having fans in arenas.

This season has been hurried along to start before Christmas almost entirely for the financial windfall that comes from playing those Christmas Day games, which are highly lucrative for the NBA as they are very important for ESPN. That revenue is important to the league and the players, so it’s understandable, as always, that the league would want its best players to be available for national TV games. The issue in this season is with the swift turnaround and shortened camp, which has players at least somewhat concerned about the potential for a similar rash of injuries like the NFL saw early in its season after players went through a brief camp without preseason games and straight into full speed action. The NBA will have a few preseason games, but a shortened camp and quick turnaround for some teams has the attention of everyone.

The impact of this updated policy will likely be minimal, as most players who rest regularly do so with legitimate health reasons behind the decision — for example, Kawhi Leonard is not beholden to the NBA’s policy because he is deemed to be constantly managing a chronic quad injury. This season, you’ll see the likes of Kevin Durant fall into the same category, as he returns from an Achilles injury, and while the Lakers stars played most games last year they were constant presences on the injury report for this reason. That further transparency on minor injuries seems to be the biggest impact of the new policy, as sore and tight muscles now get reported to provide rightful cover for someone sitting out.

Someone will undoubtedly get fined this year as the league makes an example out of any brazen attempts to rest healthy players, but at this point this is old hat and teams know exactly how to work within these guidelines. The only time it becomes tricky is if a team has a back-to-back where both games are nationally televised, but those are few and far between and if a team believes resting on a back-to-back will help them win a championship later, they’ll still happily fork over $100,000 to stick to their plan.

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