The NBA has issued a $25,000 fine for resting point guard D’Angelo Russell for violating the league’s player resting policy, and it marked the first time the NBA has enforced the load-management rules put in place originally in 2017 and clarified in November (h/t ESPN).
The Wolves rested Russell, who was considered a healthy player under the policy, against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday in Denver, which aired on NBA TV. The NBA’s resting policy limits teams from sitting healthy players in “high-profile” nationally televised games, such as NBA TV.
“We are a player-centric organization that’s focused on learning and optimizing our players’ bodies” the Timberwolves said in an official statement. “As a new player in our program, we chose to rest D’Angelo in order to learn his body better and to optimize his health during a difficult stretch of games and travel.”
Load management has become a hot topic in the NBA and has remained one for several years. Former commissioner and the late David Stern initially took aim at policing the conduct of “load management” all the way back in 2012 when San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich sat center Tim Duncan, guard Manu Ginobili, forward Danny Green, and point guard Tony Parker prior to the last game of a six-game road trip, a prime time game against the Miami Heat, who had LeBron James at the time.
Stern, at the time, issued a $250,000 fine to the Spurs and said it was a “disservice to the league and our fans.”
Years later, the NBA is still looking at how to prevent teams from doing so, but doesn’t look any closer to finding a real, long-term resolution. It has been argued that reducing the number of games in an NBA season could help prevent these things from popping up, but even that discussion remains ongoing.