The NBA has warned the Chicago Bulls to stop resting their healthy players, in a effort to crackdown on tanking. The caution was handed to the Bulls following coach Fred Hoiberg’s decision to bench swingman Justin Holiday and center Robin Lopez for a number of recent games.
‘Tanking’ is a controversial subject amongst basketball fans, but is thought to be prevalent in the NBA. The practice essentially involves a team doing less than everything they can to win – or trying to lose on purpose if we’re being black and white about it. The purpose to tanking is to obtain favourable draft picks, and the practice can often span months or even seasons.
Needless to say, when the NBA spot a franchise acting suspiciously they try to get to the bottom of the issue. Which is exactly what has happened with the Chicago Bulls this week, when the NBA noticed that Robin Lopez had been rested to each of his last six games, and Justin Holiday for five of his last six.
The Bulls have now agreed to play the veterans “more extensively to close the season.” An official statement from Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson read: “After the All-Star Break we had communication with the league office about Robin and Justin’s roles — after healthy dialogue the league determined that their situations fall into the ‘player rest’ policy. We respect the communication and cooperative dialogue with the league and will adhere to their recommendations going forward.”
Paxson defended coach Hoiberg’s decision to rest veteran players by suggesting that he had been instructed to give minutes to younger players.
“You can’t play 12 guys in our game,” said Paxson “Nine or 10 is the most, so we’re going to start looking at blocks of games where we’ll be having a few guys that haven’t been playing much or at all, where they’ll have a significant role for us.
“…It’s just the position we’re in as a young basketball team—20-37—with a lot of young guys on this roster, several we haven’t had a chance to see play much this year. For us to make the proper evaluation, in terms of who fits us going forward, this is something we have to do.”