Over the last few years, “load management” has become a thing across the NBA. It has become more common for stars and superstars to sit out games they could’ve played merely due to rest.
It is a practice that has become polarizing among fans and pundits. While proponents claim it will reduce a player’s risk of injury and keep him fresh for the playoffs, critics say it is bad for a team’s chances of getting home-court advantage and that it cheats fans out of their hard-earned money.
In an attempt to curb this practice, the NBA Board of Governors approved a new set of rules on Wednesday regarding players sitting out games merely for rest.
Via NBA Communications:
“Under the policy, unless a team demonstrates an approved reason for a star player not to participate in a game, then, among other things, the team must:
“• Manage its roster to ensure that no more than one star player is unavailable for the same game.
“• Ensure that star players are available for all national television and NBA In-Season Tournament games.
“• Maintain a balance between the number of one-game absences for a star player in home and road games.
“• Refrain from any long-term “shutdowns” in which a star player stops playing games.
“• If resting a healthy player, ensure that the player is present at the games and visible to fans.
“The policy includes exceptions for injuries, personal reasons and pre-approved back-to-back restrictions based on a player’s age, career workload or serious injury history.”
These new rules will instantly take effect once the 2023-24 NBA regular season begins.
Ever since LeBron James came to the Lakers five years ago, many fans have been calling for him to sit out a number of regular season games as a precaution, especially given the amount of wear and tear he has accumulated over the years.
In fact, some fans have even gone as far as suggesting that both James and Anthony Davis not log any real playing time until late in the season. These fans feel all the Lakers need to do in order to seriously compete for the NBA championship is to claim the final spot in the play-in tournament.
However, to his credit, James has disdained the mere idea of sitting out of games merely for rest. This past season, after he returned from a right foot stress injury, Anthony Davis was held out of three regular season games as a precaution. It is unknown if the team may continue that practice with him this year.
A better option for both superstars than sitting out games for rest would likely be keeping their minutes down, especially for James. In addition, playing a fast-breaking style of offense would result in more blowout wins, which would allow even more rest for L.A.’s regulars during garbage time in the fourth quarter.