Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on resting players: ‘We’re not really wired that way’

 

A healthy LeBron James sat out Cleveland’s game in Miami this month. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra can see both sides of the league getting involved with resting players. But he knows this is not a Miami Heat issue.

“We haven’t had an opportunity but we’re not really wired that way anyway,” he said.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to all 30 teams Monday condemning the practice of resting players, saying it has become “an extremely significant issue for our league.”

The most egregious example was Saturday when the Cavaliers held out LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love against the Clippers, the second consecutive week a team elected to sit its stars in an ABC game. Golden State rested four players, including Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the previous week for it marquee matchup with San Antonio.

“I think that we never forget the most important things of this game,” Spoelstra said “The players are the most important. They’re the ones competing in the game. Without the players there is no NBA.

“The second thing, that’s the tough balancing act, we can’t forget about our TV partners. They’re generating the majority of the revenue that we all benefit from.”

James and Irving also rested for the March 4 in Miami. Love was still out because of an injury.

Spoelstra has said in the past resting players in the middle of the season never has been discussed in Miami. During James’ four years with the Heat he missed 18 games, mostly because of nagging injuries but a few others during the final weeks of the season with the playoffs approaching.

“It never was considered,” said Udonis Haslem, the lone remaining player from the Big Three era. “If a guy had a bump or bruise or something that was lingering then at some point he might take a game or two off. Not just for the sake of getting rest.”

And this year Spoelstra joked that the Heat have found a way to rest players, but because of an inordinate amount of injuries.

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Heat guard Goran Dragic understands the dilemma but said resting is not something he would consider.

“That’s not me,” he said. “I look at it this way – you never know when it’s your last game. I want to enjoy every game and try and do my job as best as I can and I want to be there for my teammates. Of course, if it’s something you need to consider or if you don’t feel well or if you have an injury. …

“But if I’m healthy, no.”

Silver’s memo was obtained by several media outlets. In it he said teams that fail to provide proper notice of stars sitting out will be disciplined.

“Under current league rules, teams are required to provide notice to the league office, their opponent, and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest,” he wrote. “Failure to abide by these rules will result in significant penalties.”

Silver asked team owners get involved in the decision to sit players, saying they are more aware of the impact sitting stars, especially in marquee games, has on the league’s business partners.

“Decisions of this kind. … can affect fans and business partners, impact our reputation, and damage the perception of our game,” he wrote.

I asked Spoelstra if owners getting involved in personnel decisions generally left to the coach and GM is wise.

“Ultimately it makes sense that our best product is being shown to the masses and if that’s not happening then we need to figure out how to find a solution to that because that ultimately will bite you in the ass,” he said.

The issue will be a main topic of discussion at the next NBA Board of Governors meeting April 6 in New York.

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