Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday he’s been too focused on his team’s playoff push to worry about the story everyone in the NBA seems to be talking about lately: the memo league commisioner Adam Silver reportedly sent owners on Monday saying the sitting of big-name players has become “an extremely significant issue” and one that could carry penalties in the future.
“I’m pretty much in a silo right now with our team,” the Heat’s coach said after shootaround Tuesday. “We haven’t had an opportunity [to sit guys] but we’re not really wired that way anyway.”
While sitting the Heat’s best players isn’t really an option considering Miami is fighting for its playoff life with 12 regular season games to play, Spoelstra, the NBA’s second-longest tenured coach in the league behind the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, still has an opinion on the matter.
“I think it’s important we never forget the most important things of this game – and the players are the most important,” Spoelstra said. “They’re the ones competing in the game. Without the players, there is no NBA.
“The second thing, and that’s the tough balancing act, is we can’t forget about our TV partners. They’re generating the majority of the revenue that we all benefit from. 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.”
The Heat (34-36) has been the most injury-plagued team in the league this season (280 games missed). Spoelstra joked the Heat has “effectively rested the majority of our guys” enough.
Resting players for marquee games has been an issue in the league for almost a decade now. Popovich started it when he began resting aging stars Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker during the regular season.
But over the last couple of weeks the issue has picked up steam after Warriors coach Steve Kerr opted to keep Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala on the bench for a marquee game against the Spurs. The defending world champion Cleveland Cavaliers then rested LeBron James, Kryie Irving and Kevin Love for another nationally televised game against the Clippers last Saturday.
According to ESPN, Silver, who said the resting of players will be the focus of Board of Governors early next month, implored team owners to get involved in decisions about when to rest players saying that other members of organizations may not fully understand the impact on “fans and business partners” or the “perception of our game.”
“It’s a fine line,” Heat captain Udonis Haslem said. “You want to be healthy going into the playoffs to make that final push. The league wants the best guys on the floor performing at a high level and giving the fans what the pay to see.
“We never really had those conversations [during the Big Three era]. I never was considered. 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. But not just for the sake of getting rest.”
Point guard Goran Dragic said unless he’s hurt he could never see himself sitting out an NBA game for rest. But he understands why championship contenders like the Warriors, Cavs and Spurs have done it.
“But then on the other hand I understand the fans,” Dragic said. “I understand it’s because of them you’re playing basketball. They’re buying tickets and they want to see all the players play, especially the All-Star level players.
“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, fine. But if I’m healthy, no, I want to play.”