With new television contracts looming, the NBA is cracking down on star players taking games off for rest. It enacted several changes on that front this offseason to incentivize players to play and organizations to make them available.
Beginning with Tuesday night's season openers, teams are not allowed to rest more than one star player in the same game, unless they are determined to be injured. They are also mandating that star players be available to play in nationally televised games, and if stars have to rest, the league would like teams to rest them for home games, not road games when opposing fans may only get to see a certain star once per season.
There could be penalties for teams that rest stars in too many road games.
The league is defining a star player as someone who has been an All-Star or on an All-NBA team in the previous three seasons. Players who fit this criteria for the Wolves are Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
This will likely be a larger issue for other teams than it will be for the Wolves, who open their season Wednesday night in Toronto.
"Our guys are guys that have always wanted to play, and that's how we're going to approach it," coach Chris Finch said. "We're not going to look to be aggressively resting anybody."
Towns and Edwards have rarely sat out for load management in their careers, while Gobert has played in at least 68 games each of the past five seasons. Edwards even drew praise around the league last season for saying he thought star players should always be available.
Here's how this policy might affect the Wolves:
They have a back-to-back at Detroit on Jan. 17 and home against Memphis on Jan. 18. The Memphis game is on TNT, which means the Wolves will have to make sure Edwards, Gobert and Towns are available to play. If one of them is going to sit out for rest, it would have to be the previous night in Detroit, and only one of them would be able to sit.
The league is also incentivizing players to keep playing by including a minimum on league awards, like the All-NBA teams. Players must participate in 65 games to qualify for those postseason lists, which often have contract ramifications. For instance, if Edwards makes the All-NBA team this season, the contract extension he signed this summer goes from being worth about $217 million to $260 million.
Edwards made headlines in February at the All-Star Game when he spoke out against load-management strategies in the league.
"Just play, man. If you 80 percent, you gotta play," Edwards said then. "I don't like all the sitting, missing games stuff. These people might have enough money to come to one game. And that might be the game they come to and you sitting out."