An NBA rule change could have a direct impact on the Memphis Grizzlies star players this season.
The NBA’s board of governors recently voted to approve new player participation policies. The new policies are designed to increase superstar availability around the NBA.
In recent years, certain stars have rested during national TV games and other anticipated matchups. That has led to complaints from fans, while teams have often responded by stating the goal of prioritizing health and longevity throughout the season.
This hasn't been a problem for the Grizzlies. Memphis has a different approach than most of the NBA when it comes to resting players. The Grizzlies instead monitor minutes more over the course of the season. No players on the Grizzlies roster finished last season in the NBA’s top 50 of minutes per game.
The rule changes for 2023-24 emphasize the ability of star players. For the Grizzlies, Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are the ones who meet the NBA's criteria for stars. The rule change defines stars as players who have made all-star games or an All-NBA team in one of the past three seasons.
Here’s what to know about how the changes impact the Grizzlies:
National TV availability
The NBA is ensuring that star players are made available for national TV games, which is essentially matchups televised on ABC, ESPN or TNT. Last season, some Grizzlies players would miss the first or second leg of back to backs when dealing with certain levels of soreness. There are exclusions if teams can provide valid injury reasons on why a star player isn’t active, but according to the NBA’s release, “the league will be vigilant in enforcing the policy.”
Only two of the Grizzlies’ 13 national TV games are scheduled on the second leg of a back to back.
How can star players rest?
While the league is expected to enforce the new policies, there are exceptions as to where teams can logically rest stars.
In the past two seasons, the Grizzlies have clinched the No. 2 seed and rested star players in the final games of the season. If Memphis is in a similar position this season, Morant and Jackson would be allowed to rest in the same game.
When star players are resting, the league is requiring teams ensure they are at games and visible to fans. Injuries, medical back to back restrictions, personal reasons and rare circumstances are all described as examples of when teams can rest star players.
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Penalties for violation
If the league feels that the Grizzlies or any other team violates the new rules, an initial review and investigation will follow. For example, if a star player develops a trend of missing one road game over a certain amount of stretches, the league will look into the situation and use an independent physician to determine the validity of listed injuries.
A first offense is expected to be a $100,000 fine before rising to $250,000 on the second offense and $1 million more on each following offense.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Ja Morant: Grizzlies star will feel impact of NBA player usage rule