New NBA policy aims to curb teams resting stars during regular season

The NBA board of governors approved new rules on Wednesday aimed at increasing player participation during the regular season. The rules take effect at the start of this upcoming season.

The policy, outlined Wednesday in a league memo, focuses on what the league refers to as “star” players and prohibits teams from resting multiple standouts in a single game. The league defines star players as those who were selected to an all-NBA team or an NBA all-star team in the last three seasons — or, in a given year, that season’s All-Star Game.

Overall, 26 of the league’s 30 teams have at least one players who matches the NBA’s star player criteria. Half of that 30 has at least two players who fit the bill. The Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic are the only teams with none.

The policy calls for teams to comply with a series of rules, such as making such star players are available for all nationally-televised and in-season tournament games; demanding teams manage their rosters to ensure that no more than one star player is unavailable for the same game and pushing teams to “refrain from any long-term ‘shutdowns’ in which a star player stops playing games.”

This new set of rules replaces a resting policy implemented in the 2017-18 season. Teams now must have an approved reason for a star player not to participate in a game. The league said the policy allows exceptions for injuries, personal reasons and “preapproved back-to-back restrictions based on a player’s age, career workload or serious injury history.”

The league can fine teams more than $1 million for violating this new policy. Fines start at $100,000 for first offenses then rise to $250,000 for second offenses. For each subsequent violation, teams will owe $1 million more than the previous penalty for each additional fine (so, $1,250,000 for a third offense, and so on).

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