The NBA has a problem. It’s not pace of play or brain damage or domestic violence. It’s resting players.
And change is likely coming.
“I think it’s a big deal,” former NBA President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think it’s a big deal on several levels. I understand from a team’s standpoint that you like to rest certain players from time to time, but I think the bigger issue is when teams are resting three or four guys on a given night. Not only is it a competitive issue, but it’s a fan issue. Fans pay a lot of money to come to games, and when players are rested en masse, then I think it doesn’t sit well with fans. I think what you’ll see is Adam (Silver) and the NBA, along with ownership and players, (come together and discuss this). Adam has a great dialogue with star players in the league, and I think you’ll see something transpire this summer that will maybe not assuage all parties, but I think something will happen that will help.”
LeBron James, Steph Curry and others are transcendent basketball talents, but they’re also human. Sometimes, they need rest, especially during a back-to-back or a brutal four-games-in-five-days stretch. But from the NBA’s perspective, teams need to be more conscious of high-profile games when deciding whom to rest – and when.
Thorn believes a compromise is coming.
“Most of the time with these giant sports leagues, when there is an image issue or when there is a major issue, all these people are pretty smart,” he said. “We’ve got a problem here. Now how are we going to take care of it? I really do. I think that’s what you’re going to see. The sides will talk it out, I’m sure there will be some compromise, and they’ll come up with the right solution.”
In other NBA news, Thorn was asked to provide historical context for Russell Westbrook’s 2016-17 season. Westbrook, who is averaging 31.2 points, 10.4 assists and 10.5 rebounds, became the first player in NBA history Wednesday to record a tripe-double while going perfect from the floor and free-throw line. Westbrook had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists in 28 minutes in a 122-97 win over Philadelphia. He shot 6-of-6 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the foul line.
Thorn, 75, was in awe.
“I played when Oscar was getting his triple-doubles, and I never thought anybody would ever do anything like that again,” said Thorn, who played from 1963-71. “What Westbrook is doing is above and beyond. How this guy has the energy he has every night, plays as hard a she plays – whether you like what he does or you don’t like what he does, the guy is incredible. I’m just amazed. You watch these games, and many times the guy almost has a triple-double at halftime. To keep doing it, you would think that the guy would get tired and he wouldn’t be able to keep this pace, but obviously he’s going to do it this year. I think it’s one of the most incredible individual achievements that I’ve ever seen in basketball. The guy is unbelievable.”