In advance of the 2016-17 NBA season, the league landed a new broadcast rights deal with its television partners worth more than $2.6 billion over the next nine years. So, when the Warriors rest a healthy Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green for a nationally televised game against the Spurs, and then the Cavaliers do something similar with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love a week later against the Clippers, commissioner Adam Silver has no choice but to step in.
He did exactly that Monday, sending a memo to owners warning of “significant penalties” for teams that do not follow protocol in this regard, according to a report from ESPN.
In the memo, Silver informed teams that the issue will be a prime topic of discussion at the next NBA Board of Governors meeting April 6 in New York and warned of ”significant penalties” for teams that don’t abide by the league’s standing rules for providing ”notice to the league office, their opponent, and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest.”
He states that it is unacceptable for owners to be uninvolved or defer decision-making on this topic to others in their organizations, who may not have the same awareness of the impact these decisions can have on “fans and business partners,” the reputation of the league and “perception of our game.”
The last-minute nature of the Cavaliers’ decision Saturday is likely what prompted this specific course of action. If Cleveland had determined well in advance that players would be sitting (as Cavs GM David Griffin explained at the time), then the league and its television partners should have been given advance notice.
The NBA is working on solutions to this problem, the root of which is the grueling nature of the 82-game schedule. The season will begin earlier next year in an attempt to add more days of rest, but the reality is that there will still be times when a coach feels the need to rest his healthy star players — and as Stephen Curry told FOX Sports recently, there really isn’t anything the league can do about that.
“There’s no way to really prevent a coach from making a decision that’s in the best interest of his team at any juncture in the season,” Curry said.