How the NBA’s new player participation policy affects Knicks, Nets

Julius Randle and Ben Simmons are “star” players under the criteria set by the NBA’s new Player Participation Policy.

Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges are not — though that could change the instance either earn their first All-Star or All-NBA nod.

This is how the league is tackling its widespread load management issue, with new rules that penalize teams for sitting star-level players without just cause.

Teams with two such star players — that is: a player who has been named an All-Star or made an All-NBA team in any of the previous three seasons — are not allowed to rest both players in the same game.

Randle is a two-time NBA All-Star (2021 and 2023) and a two-time All-NBA honoree (2021 Second Team, 2023 Third Team). Simmons is a three-time All-Star, though his last All-Star appearance was in 2021. If he does not make an All-Star team this season, he will not qualify as a star for the Nets next season.

As a practical example, the Los Angeles Lakers deciding to sit both superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the same game without prior approval from the league would trigger a league investigation this season.

Under the NBA’s new player participation policy, star-level players must appear in all nationally-televised games – and they must appear in all of the league’s upcoming In-Season Tournament games, as well.

The Knicks play 25 nationally-televised games in the 2023-24 season, 20 if you exclude games broadcast on NBA TV. And now that Durant and Irving have orchestrated trades out of Brooklyn, the Nets have seen their national exposure nosedive: just five games this season set to air on either ESPN or TNT and six more on NBA TV.

This new set of rules, however, also triggers the moment a player earns star status.

So if Brunson were to become an All-Star this season, the NBA would fine the Knicks for resting both Brunson and Randle in the same game unless both were justifiably hurt or excused by the league for a pre-approved absence.

These exceptions to the rule include multigame absences for bona fide injury, personal reasons, rare and unusual circumstances, roster management of unavailable star players, and end-of-season flexibility

The Nets would need to seek similar approval should Bridges earn his first All-Star nod this season, a likely outcome given his exceptional play representing Team USA in the FIBA World Cup.

Mikal Bridges’ standout World Cup game marred by late miss

The Player Participation Policy features five key rules teams must comply with to avoid the stiff financial penalties for sitting star players: No more than one star player can be unavailable for the same game; star players must be available for nationally-televised and In-Season Tournament games; if a player is going to miss games, the league prefers the games be missed at home; teams can no longer shut down players for long stretches of games without league approval; and healthy players who are resting a game must be on the bench and visible to fans.

Failure to comply with any of these rules will now trigger a league investigation, with a team’s first PPP infraction set to trigger a $100,000 fine — not to the player but levied upon the team.

The second infraction of the player participation policy prompts a $250,000 fine, and the third activates a $1.25 million penalty. Every subsequent violation triggers a fine worth $1 million more than its previous penalty.

This fine structure would have crippled the Nets during the Durant, Irving and James Harden era, where the Big 3 only appeared in 16 games as a trio. It would have also hurt the Nets last season, when Simmons appeared in just 42 of a possible 82 regular-season games.

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Teams must now seek pre-approval to rest stars in either night of back-to-back games, and if one of those games is a nationally-televised, the rest must occur for the other game.

For example, the Knicks travel to Boston on April 11 for a matchup against the Celtics set to air on TNT. The following night, they host the Nets at Madison Square Garden in a game that will air locally on MSG Networks.

Under the new rules, barring verifiable injury or excused absence from the league, Julius Randle must play against the Celtics. If the Knicks wanted to rest him for any game of that back-to-back, they would need pre-approval from the league to sit their star forward against the Nets.

This would become complicated, however, if Brunson were to also receive his first All-Star nod this season as teams cannot rest both star players in any single game. Both would be required to play against the Celtics, then only one would be eligible to rest the ensuing night.

The Knicks have three other instances of nationally-televised games occurring on one leg of back-to-back: Oct. 27 at Atlanta and 28 at New Orleans (NBA TV); Oct. 31 at Cleveland (TNT), then Nov. 1 at home against the Cavaliers; and Nov. 12 hosting the Charlotte Hornets before Nov. 13 at Boston (NBA TV).

In each of these instances, the Knicks would need pre-approval to rest Randle in the non-nationally-televised leg of the back-to-back, though Brunson wouldn’t apply to this rule because he is not yet an All-Star.

The Nets host the reigning champion Denver Nuggets in a nationally-televised (NBA TV) game on Dec. 22, then host the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 23. Under new league rules, Brooklyn would need to seek pre-approval to rest Simmons against the Pistons – though given his injury history, they should have no problem securing such approval; nor should they have any issues with the fashionable Simmons appearing on the bench in games he is resting.

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The Nets, however, have a nationally-televised back-to-back: Feb. 5 against the Golden State Warriors in a game that airs on NBA TV, then Feb. 6 against the Dallas Mavericks in Kyrie Irving’s return to Brooklyn – a game that will air on TNT.

According to the new rules, the Nets would need to seek prior approval for a player to rest one leg of a back-to-back if both games are nationally televised or In-Season Tournament games.

The Nets have two more back-to-backs that feature a game aired on national television: March 9 at Charlotte and March 10 at Cleveland (ESPN); then March 16 at Indiana before March 17 against Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs, a game set to air on NBA TV and, surprisingly, be played at a neutral location.

These games will be played after the All-Star break, meaning if Bridges earns his first career All-Star nod, both he and Simmons will be ineligible to rest one leg of each back-to-back.

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According to the release issued by the league, the exclusions to the player participation policy include injuries, personal reasons and pre-approved back-to-back restrictions based on a player’s age, career workload or serious injury.

Under these rules, the Nets should have no issues seeking rest time for both Simmons and Bridges, as Simmons has a verifiable back injury history that must be monitored to prevent aggravation.

Bridges, due for an All-Star nod, played in 83 combined regular-season games for both the Suns and Nets last season, then played more minutes than any player not named Anthony Edwards for Team USA during the FIBA World Cup. Should he qualify for star status, the Nets could easily point to his workload over the past calendar year as just cause to rest him in the second half of the season.

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That will be difficult to pull off, however, if they are actively load-managing Simmons’ back.

For the Knicks, both Brunson and Josh Hart played into the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs then played regular Team USA minutes in the FIBA World Cup. Hart does not qualify as a star under the new rules, but a case can be made for workload management for both.

Cam Johnson also represented the Nets for Team USA but should have fresh regular-season legs after spending most of the World Cup watching from the sidelines.


The NBA has created an exception to the rule for appearances in back-to-back games for players who are 35 years old on opening night or have career workloads of 34,000 regular-season minutes or 1,000 combined regular-season and playoff games, according to ESPN.

Neither the Knicks nor Nets rosters feature a player who qualifies for this exception. Bridges has appeared in 392 regular-season games and 39 additional playoff games. Randle has appeared in 595 regular-season games and an additional 15 playoff games. Brunson has only appeared in 345 regular-season games plus 36 more playoff games. And after missing an entire season, then half of last season, while also missing his entire rookie season due to injury, Simmons has only tallied 317 regular-season games since 2017, plus 34 more playoff games.

Chris Paul, Mike Conley, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan and James Harden are the only NBA players covered by this exception.

Under these new rules, the Nets would have only been able to rest Durant, who met the 34,000 minutes criteria, in last season’s Dec. 10 matchup against the Indiana Pacers, where they won despite sitting Durant, Irving and Simmons.


NBA end-of-the-season honors now have updated criteria based on availability.

In order to be eligible for Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player or Defensive Player of the Year, as well as any All-NBA or All-Defensive Teams, a player must appear in at least 65 regular-season games. They may appear in 62 games and still qualify for an end-of-the-season award if they suffer a season-ending injury and appeared in at least 85% of his team’s regular-season games prior to suffering the injury.

Under this new rule, Memphis Grizzlies center Jaren Jackson Jr. would not have been eligible to win Defensive Player of the Year because he only appeared in 63 games.

Julius Randle, who earned Third Team All-NBA honors last season, appeared in 77 games for the Knicks last season and would have remained unaffected had these new rules been implemented last season.

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Author : Kristian Winfield

Publish date : 2023-09-14 16:44:53

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