The NBA board of governors unanimously voted Wednesday to approve harsher rules for teams looking to rest “star” players during the regular season. The rules are intended to increase competitive play during the NBA regular season, which has been criticized in recent years for a perceived lack of player interest.

“I think we’ll state this principle, see how teams react and see if more needs to be done,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said after the meeting. “But I think, most importantly, there’s a sense from all the different constituent groups in the league that this is ultimately about the fans and that we’ve taken this too far.”

The rules, which will take effect this coming season, define a “star player” as one that has made the All-Star Game or All-NBA teams in the previous three seasons. Half of the league currently has multiple players that qualify. Some teams, like the Warriors and their four-star players, will be impacted severely.

The rules dictate that teams must manage their rosters in a way that no more than one healthy star player is unavailable for a game. Teams must also ensure that star players are available for nationally televised games and games counting toward the in-season tournament. Shutdowns, in which a player significantly cuts back on in-game participation for a stretch of games, will also be limited. Star players’ availability must be balanced between home and road games and must also be visible to fans if they are resting.


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“I mean, this is an acknowledgment that it’s gotten away from us a bit, particularly I think when you see young, healthy players who are resting,” Silver said. “It becomes maybe even more notion of stature around the league as opposed to absolute needed rest –  or it’s just part of being an NBA player that you rest on certain days – and that’s what we’re trying to move away from.”

Teams who fail to follow these new rules will have to pay $100,000 and $250,000 for first and second offenses, respectively. Penalties incurred thereafter will result in fines incrementally increased by $1 million.

This massive effort by the league to promote regular season competition is expected to increase the NBA’s ratings, as more fans should technically want to tune in for games that feel more meaningful. It is unclear how these new regulations, along with the in-season tournament, will impact the manner in which teams operate.

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