In recent years, the NBA has introduced new, more stringent rules relating to injury transparency and load management, and on Monday the Philadelphia 76ers became the first team this season to be punished for breaking them. The league announced that the Sixers have been fined $25,000 for violating the league's injury reporting rules.
On Saturday, the Sixers made a last-minute decision to sit Ben Simmons for their game against the Denver Nuggets, and coach Doc Rivers said he was dealing with knee stiffness. He was not on the team's injury report for that game, however, which is why they were fined.
By the strict letter of the law, the Sixers did break the rules. Teams are supposed to go through an official process to document an injury, and show that proof to the league before players sit out of games. They clearly didn't do that. However, when set against the backdrop of Philadelphia's COVID-19 situation, it's a bit strange that the league tried to make an example out of the Sixers with this case.
After Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19 in the middle of the Sixers' game against the Brooklyn Nets, the team had to return to their New York hotel instead of going home. Players were tested, went through contact tracing and eventually made their way back to Philadelphia by bus.
Hours before their game against the Nuggets, it still wasn't clear if they were going to have enough eligible players to go forward with the game, and they only did so in the end because Mike Scott suited up despite being injured and unable to participate. With just seven players available, the Sixers lost by 12.
Five Sixers remain sidelined due to COVID-19 related matters, including Curry, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton and Vincent Poirier. Given the fact that multiple games have been postponed in the past few days because teams didn't have enough eligible players, it's certainly fair for the Sixers to wonder why they had to go through with their matchup. And, why they were fined on top of that.