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San Antonio Spurs: Gregg Popovich praises new NBA rest rules

By Rob Wolkenbrod
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 22: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs talks to the media during a press conference after Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2017 AT
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 22: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs talks to the media during a press conference after Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2017 AT
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San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich praised the NBA’s newly implemented rest rules.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was one of a handful of coaches that rested healthy players in the 2016-17 season, along with past years. He did this for nationally televised games, including back-to-back nights the team played. The NBA attempted to combat the latter, by limiting back-to-back games.

Rest was a different story, however, as the NBA implemented rules to discourage teams from sitting healthy players. If they bench players for nationally televised games on ABC, ESPN and TNT, the NBA can implement a $100,000 fine. This goes for sitting players on the road, too. Resting players will be encouraged to interact with the fans.

According to mysanantonio.com, Popovich made his first comments on the new rest rules. He said the NBA has been “fair,” while the game is made great for the fans and players:

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“The NBA is trying to make the game great for players, for fans and they’ve been very fair,” Popovich said. “Owners, coaches, general managers, the league have all been great about sharing information and trying to figure out ways to take care of the players and, at the same time, make sure it’s a great experience for everybody. So, we are all on the same page.”

Popovich’s support might raise a few eyebrows since he was at the forefront of player rest. Though, he did what was within the rules of the NBA. He’ll have to do that now, with a fine at risk. It doesn’t sound like it will be a burden for him, given his satisfaction of the game’s direction for the players and fans. Remember the “balance” he called for earlier this year?

It will be interesting to see when the rest rules make its first impact. Maybe not in 2017, as it’s early in the season. By February or March, will teams start to bench players as healthy scratches? With the visible player interaction, it seems like this is possible, but obviously not encouraged by the NBA.

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The rest rules could make this topic disappear. There’s a chance the preseason is the last time anyone hears of this for the 2017-18 season, a potentially great thing for the NBA. Is it an inevitable topic for a contender in the late winter or early spring, though? Let’s see once the conference standings are better established.

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