How NBA's new load management rules affect Warriors


The NBA is taking aim at the load management philosophy that has run rampant in recent years, as the league’s board of governors Wednesday approved a strict set of measures to deter resting star players throughout the season.

According to reports, teams can be fined upwards of $1 million for resting healthy players and the NBA will enforce a ban on benching multiple star players – AKA anyone who has made the All-Star team or All-NBA teams in any of the previous three seasons. In all, there are 50 players who meet the requirements of being a star.

By the new criteria, the Warriors have four players who qualify as star players – Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Chris Paul. Klay Thompson hasn’t made an All-Star team or All-NBA team in any of the past three seasons.

There are some caveats, as Curry (35) and Paul (39) would be exempt from playing both games of a back-to-back due to their age. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that players who are 35 on opening day or have accumulated 1,000 career games or 34,000 career minutes played would have pre-approval to sit out one game of a back-to-back. Draymond (915 career games) falls short of the veteran exemption.

Among the other restrictions, NBA teams will have to ensure that star players are available for national TV games and in-season tournament matchups. Given the Warriors’ huge popularity, this arrangement could end up being something of a burden.

If you consider NBATV broadcasts to be nationally-televised – of which Golden State has 12 – the Warriors will play in a whopping 41 national TV games this season, more than 10 times of other teams like the Hornets, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets and Wizards, who have just four such games on their schedule this season.

Making things more complicated, Woj reported, “If a team feels that a star player is unable to play in back-to-back games, it must provide to the NBA written information at least one week prior explaining why the player's participation should be limited.”

That’s a tough spot to put the teams and medical staffs. What if a player is feeling sore after the first game of the back-to-back and legitimately can’t play the following day? What is the threshold? How are they supposed to know player’s status a full week before the two games of a back-to-back?

The Warriors have 11 different back-to-backs (22 total games) scheduled for this season, so they will have to be judicious about their veteran-laden squad. First offenses will cost the teams $100,000, second offenses will cost $250,000 and subsequent offenses can have $1 million tacked on to the violations.

From the reporting, it doesn’t sound like there is a minimum minutes requirement for players to appear in a game, so you have to wonder if the NBA will also police that aspect of playing time. Can a star player just suit up for the opening possession and be benched the rest of the game? One more aspect, is the league also wants to ban late-season shutdowns of players, targeted for stars who are playing on non-contenders.

In the end, the NBA is trying to protect its product, as they don’t want fans to splurge on Steph’s lone road appearance in their city for the season, only to find out he was a healthy scratch.

The logic is there, but how it will play out in reality is yet to be determined. This seems like the NBA has opened up a Pandora's box of subjective enforcement that will be on a case-by-case basis, and you can be sure that teams will try to game the system and take advantage of the gray areas provided by the language.

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