Feb 28, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) sits on the bench during a timeout during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

As the NBA prepares to negotiate a new television rights deal, the league is preparing accordingly.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA’s Board of Governors has voted to approve stronger rules against star players resting for nationally televised and in-season tournament games. Per a prior report, the league “will incorporate a fine system for teams that begins with $100,000 for first offenses, $250,000 for second offenses and $1 million more than the previous penalty for each additional fine” with the following restrictions now in place, per Wojnarowski:

  • Teams must manage their roster to ensure that no more than one star player is unavailable for the same game.
  • Teams must ensure that star players are available for national television and in-season tournament games.
  • Teams must maintain a balance between the number of one-game absences for a star player in home games and road games — with a preference for those absences to happen in home games.
  • Teams must refrain from any long-term shutdown — or near shutdown — when a star player stops participating in games or plays in a materially reduced role in circumstances affecting the integrity of the game.
  • Teams must ensure that healthy players resting for a game are present and visible to fans.

While the idea of a “star player” is certainly subjective, the league is defining it as any player who has made the All-Star or All-NBA teams in any of the three previous seasons. Some exceptions are also in place, including regular-season back-to-back games involving players who are 35 years old on opening night or have career workloads of 34,000 regular-season minutes or 1,000 regular-season/playoff games combined—such as LeBron James.

Load management has been a NBA discussion for a long while. Wojnarowski noted that with the league’s current television rights deal set to expire following the 2024-25 season, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver “has been determined to increase player participation, and the league’s goal is to strengthen the initial player resting policies that were adopted in the 2017-18 season.”

As a part of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, players are ineligible for postseason awards if they fail to play in at least 65 regular-season games. The NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament will also take place during the upcoming 2023-24 campaign.

[Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.