To say that Gregg Popovich was unbothered by the NBA fining his San Antonio Spurs $25,000 for violating the league's rules on resting players might be an understatement. The Spurs were hit with the fine following their 111-85 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. Popovich discussed the fine with media members on Monday, and made it clear he didn't lose any sleep over it.
"I didn't give it much thought," Popovich said of the fine, via San Antonio Express-News. I think we know best what our players need. I understand the league's point of view and we're just going to differ on it. ... We needed to rest them so we rested them."
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Although specific names weren't mentioned by the NBA, DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills and Jakob Poeltl were the three players who were listed as out for "rest" on the Spurs injury report for Saturday night's game. The league has been trying to crack down on teams not playing guys for "rest" purposes over the past few seasons, but it hasn't stopped it from happening. The Raptors were just fined the same amount week for the exact same reason, as well as correctly reporting injuries to the league.
In a condensed season, though, players have begun to get worn out as many teams are playing more games in a shorter timespan to ensure the playoffs start and end on time so the NBA can begin the 2021-22 campaign closer to its regularly scheduled time. Players have been vocal about their displeasure about how this season has taken shape, with Raptors guard Fred VanVleet saying recently that this season has been the "most unpure year of basketball I've ever been a part of," because of how things have taken shape.
This season has certainly been unlike anything we've ever seen as the league tries to finish out another year during a global pandemic, but it's clear that the grind of the compacted schedule is taking a physical and mental toll on players, which is leading to teams resting them, regardless of the consequences.