The NBA’s participation policy wasn’t meant for guys like Dorian Finney-Smith

The NBA recently implemented a player participation policy, also known as an anti-load management protocol, to ensure that fans attending games would not be disappointed by star players sitting out in street clothes. However, it was the Brooklyn Nets who became the first team to be fined $100,000 for violating this policy.

During a game against the Milwaukee Bucks on December 27, several Nets players, including Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, Cam Johnson, and Nic Claxton, were rested. Mikal Bridges, who is part of the starting five, played only the first quarter before being benched for the rest of the game.

Upon investigation, the NBA found that these players could have played according to the medical standard in the Player Participation Policy, which was adopted before the season. The league’s decision to fine the Nets falls under the “Other Circumstances” section of the policy, which allows the NBA to impose discipline at its discretion.

This penalty seems like a light slap on the wrist for a below-average Nets team playing the second half of a back-to-back. The fine increases to $1 million for subsequent violations, but it only becomes significant after the third infraction. Therefore, good teams with star players worth resting should be able to afford the penalty without much trouble.

Interestingly, the Nets seemed to have found a loophole in the policy at the same time they were fined. While Dinwiddie, Finney-Smith, Johnson, and Claxton received criticism for sitting out, no mention was made of Bridges, who played a season-low 12 minutes and was immediately benched after the first quarter. This strategy of representation in the game followed by a quick pull could be a way for teams to avoid penalties in the future.

The game in question, which the Nets lost 144-122, marked the beginning of a five-game losing streak that continues into the new year. The fine imposed on the team is merely a small additional hardship during a difficult stretch.

In conclusion, the NBA’s implementation of the player participation policy aims to prevent fans from being disappointed by star players sitting out games. The Brooklyn Nets became the first team to be fined for violating this policy, but the penalty seems relatively insignificant. Moving forward, teams may look for ways to work around the policy and avoid fines while still managing player workload.

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