OAKLAND — Resting stars has been a major talking point about the NBA for the last couple seasons.
With teams embracing science that shows it’s not beneficial to push players during long roadtrips (in both time and distance covered), coaches have been holding out their best to keep them fresh for when the games matter more.
That doesn’t sit well with the league office, which relies on keeping fans happy. And that becomes a less certain outcome if someone pays up to three figures for a ticket and instead attends a game played by reserves.
The issue came to a head earlier this season when the Golden State Warriors rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala against the San Antonio Spurs on March 11.
Head coach Steve Kerr said Sunday he expects the league will improve the schedule next season so teams won’t be in the situation where they think resting stars is necessary in the first place.
“I think the schedule makers with the league can try to do a better job geographically,” Kerr said before the Warriors played the Memphis Grizzlies. “I know that we are flying more miles than anybody this year. And we’ve had some segments of the schedule that frankly have been insane. I’d like to see that improve.”
Shifting the discussion about this dilemma to being the league’s responsibility has been a constant for Kerr this season. But he also noted that he’s sat Curry, Thompson and Green — “the young core” — a handful of times over the last few seasons.
Kerr also revealed that the league has contacted him about his concerns and that it would “try to do everything we can to resolve this or at least mitigate it however best we can.”
Kerr also won’t be sitting them when the Warriors play the Spurs later this week a day after facing the Houston Rockets.
“The back-to-back, we’re flying in from Houston. We’re going to be in Houston tomorrow night with a night’s rest before that game. This is a normal schedule,” Kerr said.
But, this issue as a whole is another one of the Warriors’ transcendent-team problems. They have the stars that people pay to see. And they also have the position in the standings that allows them to think bigger.
For example, the Grizzlies don’t have that luxury, according to head coach David Fizdale.
Explaining why Marc Gasol would be missing Sunday’s game (sore left foot), Fizdale contended they don’t have the flexibility to rest their players.
“We’re still in a deep playoff race, these last 10 games could decide a whole lot in the West,” Fizdale said. “We’re only going to rest people if it means they’re body is hurting. Otherwise, we’re going after every game and every win.”