The NBA has introduced new rules that allow teams to rest only one of their star players per game this season.
The league’s board wants to ensure its star players appear in more games, especially nationally televised games and a seasonal tournament that is being added this year.
The new rules focus primarily on star players — anyone who has been an All-Star or on an All-NBA team in any of the previous three seasons. There are 50 players who fit into the All-Star category.
The league will have the ability to penalize teams that violate the policy by fining them $100,000 (£80,000) for a first offense and $250,000 (£250,000) for a second offense. Each successive violation will increase by $1 million (£800,000).
“It’s a view shared by everyone in the league, and it’s not just coming from the league office,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “I think whether it’s our teams or the players’ association or individual players, I think there’s a recognition across the league that we need to get back to that principle that this is an 82-game league.
“I think there’s a statement of principle that if you’re a healthy player in this league, the expectation is that you’re going to play.
“What we’ve tried to do as a league office is work through all the different issues while recognizing the real concern of the fans and of course the media who are paying for the opportunity to broadcast those games.”
The NBA also wants teams to maintain a balance between the number of absences per game for a star player at home and on the road, as well as refrain from any long-term lockouts where the star player stops playing games.
The league will allow teams to submit written requests in advance for older players for back-to-back games. This is for a small group of stars who are 35 or older at the start of the season or who have played more than 34,000 regular season minutes or 1,000 games in their career. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry all belong to this category.
Teams will be able to submit other requests for players to miss matches that include personal reasons, the player’s previous injury history and flexibility at the end of the season.
“The players union was a big part of it,” Silver said of discussions about the new policy. “We’ve had extensive discussions with them and then with individual groups of players, especially veteran players in the league, about how they think we should approach it.”