NBA Pushing ’82-Game’ Mindset on Players, Teams Ahead of Season

Load management is at the top of the list when it comes to things the NBA would like to put to rest.Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard give high fives.

For starters, more rest doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding injuries, former Pistons great and current league executive vice president and head of basketball operations Joe Dumars said during a conference call with reporters.

“I think it was a given conclusion that the data showed that you had to rest players a certain amount and that justified guys sitting out,” Dumars said. “We’ve gotten more data, and it just doesn’t show that resting, sitting guys out, correlates with lack of injuries or fatigue or anything like that.

“What it does show is guys may be not as efficient on the second night of a back-to-back. But in terms of injury and things like that, that we thought that it did prior, as we got more data, we realized that’s not really holding up.”

The league has struggled with star players resting during regular season games in recent seasons … just because. But the fans pay big money to see the stars — making regular-season games more appealing. And sponsors pay even more with assurances that people will be watching.

These are the people who pay player salaries. But quite honestly, it’s not always on the players. Teams often decide to hold out guys for the purpose of keeping them healthy.

By and large, the players want to play. The new rules on load management will give them a reason to push to do so when teams try to keep them sidelined (again, when healthy).

“I also think we don’t need our TV partners to tell us that when teams sit players and players don’t try in an All-Star Game,” said NBA executive vice president of basketball strategy and analytics Evan Wasch. “That makes for worse competition. Right? It’s incredibly obvious to us, and ultimately, we’re trying to serve fans.

“Yes, it’s the case that because we’re negotiating TV deals in the next year or two here, it takes on an even greater importance because we’re in the middle of those conversations; but we can self-identify that these were issues that need addressing independent of any outside.”

Players from Dumars’ era attempted to play all 82 games. That was just the mindset back in the 1980s and early ’90s. The league wants to see the same again.

“The culture should be that every player should want to play 82 games,” Dumars said. “Obviously, everybody’s not going to play 82 games. But everyone should want to play 82 games. That’s the culture that we are trying to reestablish right now.

“The competition committee has signed off on this. The players’ association has signed, they have agreed that this is an 82-game league, and everyone should expect to play 82 games. We’ve discussed this with everybody over the last several months, and everybody agrees that we have to embrace who we are.”

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