The NBA told the Chicago Bulls earlier this week to stop resting starters, but held back on imposing a fine, Yahoo Sports reports.
Last month, the Bulls announced reduced minutes to regulars Justin Holiday, Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant in favor of increasing playing time for younger players such as David Nwaba, Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio.
During those next six games, Nwaba averaged 12 points, Felicio averaged 8 points and Payne averaged 6.6 points. Although not high scoring averages, the younger replacements put up similar numbers to those of the regular starters.
This season, Holiday averages 13 points per game, Lopez averages 12 points and Grant averages 8 points.
Still, despite similar numbers, the NBA disapproved of the lineup changes, likely because of the Bulls’ dismal performance in the win column. Chicago went 1-5 in those six games resting starters, with their only win against the Dallas Mavericks, fittingly another alleged tanker.
Now the NBA is pushing the Bulls to use more regulars against the Memphis Grizzlies in an effort to get them to stop losing. It worked. Holiday finished with 14 points in just 17 minutes in a 119-110 win over Memphis. Currently the Bulls are two games off last place in the East.
The NBA has struggled finding solutions to discourage tanking in the past. The league’s current strategy is to wave around heavy fines if teams lose on purpose, and will also change the draft lottery system starting 2019.
The Bulls are 22-42 and 12th place in the East.