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The NBA announces stricter rules for resting multiple star players

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The NBA season is just over a month away from tipping off, and the league recently announced new rules to reduce the practice of teams strategically resting star players to prevent injury, known in the league as load management. They're calling the new rules PPP, player participation policy, and their goal is to get the NBA stars playing in as many games as possible. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says the new rules are pursued by team owners, managers, coaches and the players association.

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ADAM SILVER: There's a statement of a principle that if you're a healthy player in this league, that the expectation is that you're going to play.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. But did they get these new rules right? CBS senior NBA writer James Herbert is here to explain all this. So can you give us a rundown, James, of the new NBA PPP rules?

JAMES HERBERT: Yeah. So the NBA is trying to address a problem of player availability and specifically availability of star players who are healthy but resting during games. So the new player participation policy will fine teams that practice this if the teams do not get expressed approval from the league to rest players, which will only be given to certain stars in certain circumstances. The new rules don't apply to every player equally, and they don't treat every game as equal either. There's a particular emphasis on having stars available for national television games and for games under the new in-season tournament that we'll be seeing this year. In addition to that, teams can be fined if two star players rest in the same game.

MARTÍNEZ: How do they determine who a star is?

HERBERT: Yeah, that's the funny thing. There's not really an easy, objective way to do this. The way the NBA has laid it out, there are 49 players who will fall under the star criteria. It's anybody who has made an all-star team or an all-NBA team in the past three years. That will catch some players who aren't really stars anymore but were a few years ago, and it won't catch some players who most of us would probably consider stars but just haven't happened to earn one of those distinctions yet. Jamal Murray for the Denver Nuggets, for example, was the second-best player on the team that just won the championship. He is not considered a star under this new policy. The Minnesota Timberwolves, however - kind of a mediocre team - like, the Nuggets only have one player that qualifies as a star - the Wolves have four. So that's a little bit weird. But, you know, if Jamal Murray makes the all-star game this season...

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah.

HERBERT: ...Then after the all-star break, he will be subject to these rules.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says these new rules were created with ticket-buying customers in mind. James, I haven't been to a game in a long, long time, but I do play fantasy basketball, and I know people gamble on basketball. So what's the financial incentive for the league in this decision?

HERBERT: Yeah, I think there's enormous financial incentive. I mean, the NBA's official statement - it references the interests of fans, the integrity of the game, things like this. The statement does not say directly that the NBA is approaching negotiations for a new media rights deal, which I think is really hard to separate from the rest of this story. They are looking for an enormous payday that they'll negotiate basically starting in next March with ESPN and Turner Sports. And this is something that the broadcast networks can kind of in negotiations bring to the table and say, well, we can't count on your stars being there. This is a way for the NBA to say they are trying to do something about that.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. CBS senior NBA writer James Herbert. James, thanks a lot.

HERBERT: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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