Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent his starting players home before the final game of a six-game trip. And for that and keeping it a secret, the NBA fined the team $250,000.
Commissioner David Stern said the Spurs “did a disservice to the league and our fans” when they didn’t bring Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Danny Green, or Manu Ginobili to Miami for the last game of the trip.
In a statement, Stern said:
“The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case. The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team’s only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.”
The league’s statement said San Antonio was in violation of league policy against resting players in a manner “contrary to the best interests of the NBA.”
Teams are required to report as soon as they know a player will not travel due to an injury.
Resting healthy players has been debated before, although it usually happens at the end of the season and not a month into it. Popovich has been using this strategy for his aging team that could use more time off than the league schedule allows.
“Popovich has done this before and he knows what’s best for his team,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “It’s his job to manage his players and do whatever he’d like. He’s thinking about the big picture.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers — whom Shaq played for in the 2010-2011 season — didn’t think the penalty would keep teams from resting players.
“I don’t like it,” he said. “It’s a tough one. You’ve got to coach your team to win in the long run and you have to do whatever you need to do. If that’s sitting players, you sit players.”