In its revamped efforts to prevent marquee players from sitting out regular season games, the NBA has introduced a new player participation policy (PPP). Here’s how the policy, which is set to go into effect for the 2023-24 season, may affect LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron and AD are the two Lakers players who fall under the “star” designation, per the policy, as they’ve made an All-Star team within the past three seasons. However, the PPP includes a handful of exceptions that could enable the Lakers stars to strategically rest on occasion.
First, an exception for veterans, for which LeBron (obviously) qualifies. Per ESPN’s Bobby Marks:
The NBA will allow pre-approved designated back-to-back allowances for players who are 35 years old on opening night or have career workloads of 34,000 regular-season minutes or 1,000 regular-season and playoff games combined, sources said.
If a team feels that a star player is unable to play in back-to-back games, it must provide to the NBA written information at least one week prior explaining why the player’s participation should be limited.
In 2022-23, LeBron sat out one leg of four (of 10) back-to-backs the Lakers had when he was healthy. Of course, at his age, he’s practically always dealing with nagging ailments — as he was last year — and managing his body for the postseason.
Meanwhile, there’s another exception that could very well apply to Anthony Davis:
The league has also said that a team can seek approval for a star player to be unavailable for one end of a back-to-back based on the player’s prior or unusual injury history.
It’s unclear what exactly “prior or unusual injury history” means, but one would assume AD would qualify. Davis, 30, has appeared in fewer than 60 games in four of the past five seasons. He missed 26 games in 2022-23 and dealt with a complex right foot bone spur injury from December on. AD also missed one leg of four back-to-backs last season.
While each player can potentially take certain games off, they can’t do so simultaneously. The PPP says that only one star can be made unavailable per game.
The Lakers will play 15 back-to-backs in 2023-24 — one more than the league average.
Furthermore, stars are not allowed to sit out nationally televised games. The Lakers are slated to play the second-most national TV games (40), including NBA TV. Assuming NBA TV does, indeed, count, the Lakers will have 10 back-to-backs featuring at least one game on a national platform.