The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved a new policy, called the Player Participation Policy (PPP), preventing teams from resting more than one “star” player in a game and setting forth punishment for violating the measure.
A star is defined as someone who made an All-Star team or All-NBA team in the past three seasons. The PPP replaces the Player Resting Policy and will be implemented for the 2023-24 season.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars led the “reset on the issue” under discussion for the past year.
“It’s a shared view by everyone in the league — it’s not just coming from the league office,” Silver said. “There’s an acknowledgment across the league that we need to return to that principle. It’s an 82-game league. … If you’re a healthy player in this league, you’re expected to play.”
Silver said the policy, in its initial phase, is meant to diminish egregious examples of resting or sitting out in the name of “load management” without understanding.
The new policy also dictates that teams ensure the availability of star players for nationally televised games and for the in-season tournament, which will make its debut in 2023-24. Teams must balance games missed on the road vs. home, with the preference leaning toward more home games missed, per media reports.
Silver said he worries about “infringing on team policy” with the change.
“There’s a sense from all the different constituent groups across the league that this is about the fans,” Silver said. “It’s gotten away from us. Particularly when you see young, healthy players.”
Teams must refrain from any long-term “shutdowns,” during which a star player stops playing games. And if resting a healthy player, teams must ensure that the player is present at the games and visible to fans.
The penalties for violating the policy are $100,000 for the first, $250,000 for a second, and $1 million more than a previous penalty for subsequent violations.
A group of team doctors and team scientists are working with the NBA to address when rest might be necessary and permitted.
The new policy does include exceptions for injuries, personal reasons and pre-approved back-to-back restrictions based on a player’s age, career workload or serious injury history.
“Part of the discussion today was about the science, and frankly the science was inconclusive,” Silver said. “What we talked about today, the correlation, putting aside causation, isn’t there. We don’t see any statistical data suggesting players increase their likelihood of getting injured as they go further along in their season, or even in back-to-backs, which may surprise people.”
Under the new policy, for example, the Los Angeles Clippers wouldn’t be able to rest stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the same game.
The NBA has cut down on scheduling back-to-backs in different cities, increasing instances of playing consecutive road games against the same opponent.