One of the bigger questions with this quick start to the 2020-21 season for me was how much main guys would actually play given the shortened offseason. Especially any player that had a deep playoff run. There's no denying that load management and being selective during the regular season to rest your best players has never been more common. It's not just Kawhi, you see it all over the league. Except for LeBron. That dude plays every damn game despite being in Year 18, which is wild.
On the surface, this makes some sense. The NBA can't live in a world where their biggest stars are healthy scratches or are given some sort of made up injury and do not play in huge nationally televised games. To me, this is the league saying "hey, you can do load management, but stop messing with our key games". In other words, if there's a back to back, you are not allowed to rest guys for the game on national TV. This was obviously a much bigger issue when there were fans in the stands, so even though that might not happen right away you know the league is already thinking ahead. I can only imagine the frustration of buying tickets when a star is coming to your city only for that player to sit out despite being healthy. It's not like you get a refund or anything like that.
I'm curious if this 100k fine will be enough. That doesn't seem like an amount that would deter some franchises. Steve Ballmer can't pay 100k if Kawhi wants to rest? They're also still going to have the same issues as before when it comes to load management. What is "healthy"? How is the league going to determine who is really hurt and who is just taking load management?
You can't really have it both ways. It was the league's choice to start the season in December and wrap things up by the Olympics. You can't do that and then on the other hand tell teams when they can and can't rest guys. That feels a little fucked up. Guys are going to sit out. Star players are going to sit out. That's just the reality of the league going down this path of a quick restart.
Load management will never fully go away, I think we can all agree there. But if this is a way to ensure that we get to see the best of the best play in the biggest games, it's probably the best the league will be able to do.