Load-management is typically reserved for elite teams trying to save their best players for the postseason. Yet the NBA dropped some surprising discipline for the practice on one of the worst teams in the league. The Minnesota Timberwolves have been fined $25,000 for violating the NBA‘s resting policy, the league announced Thursday. The violation occurred during a Feb. 23 game against the Denver Nuggets, and the healthy player involved was D’Angelo Russell.
That was not the first game Russell had missed as a member of the Timberwolves. He missed his first official game with the team due to a right quad contusion. That same quad contusion forced him to miss his second-to-last game with the Golden State Warriors, and he has reportedly dealt with a knee issue all season, according to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski.
The Timberwolves did not disclose an injury in resting Russell against the Nuggets. Instead, they listed him as out for “planned rest.” He was not listed on Monday’s injury report, and returned to play that night against the Dallas Mavericks. The league viewed that as a violation of its resting policy, and the Timberwolves accepted the ruling and issued a statement supporting their own decision.
The Minnesota Timberwolves accept the league’s fine for resting D’Angelo Russell on the February 23 game versus Denver. While we respect the league’s guidelines and standards, we are a player-centric organization that’s focused on learning and optimizing our players’ bodies. As a new player in our program, we chose to rest D’Angelo in order to learn his body better and to optimize his health during a difficult stretch of games and travel.
It is unclear if the Timberwolves plan to continue resting Russell, but their statement suggests that they at least plan to treat him cautiously moving forward.