Here’s how the NBA’s new rest policy will affect the Celtics


The NBA’s Board of Governors approved a new policy that will limit the amount of rest teams can give certain players.

Jaylen Brown (left) and Jayson Tatum (right) are the only Celtics affected by the NBA’s new load management rules. AP

The NBA‘s Board of Governors approved the Player Participation Policy on Wednesday, a brand new set of rules that dictate how often teams can rest certain players.

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Under these new rules, teams cannot rest more than one star player in the same game and must play all of their stars for nationally televised games and matchups for the In-Season Tournament. In addition, teams may not “shut down” a star player for a long-term period, and they must “maintain a balance” between a player’s home game absences and away game absences. If they do choose to rest a star player, that player must be at that game and “visible to fans.”

The NBA lists a few exceptions to these rules, such as if a player is unable to perform due to injury or personal reasons. Pre-approved back-to-back restrictions will also be given to players of a certain age and those with a history of serious injury.

These new rules will be a big change for coaches, fans, and the NBA’s best players. But how do they affect the Boston Celtics? According to a press release the NBA sent out on Wednesday, the NBA defines a “star” as any player who made an All-Star team or All-NBA team in the last three seasons, as well as any player selected to the All-Star game that season. The only two Celtics that fit this definition are Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. 

Neither Tatum nor Brown has had any significant concerns with needing rest. Both players suit up in nearly every game they are physically able to do so. Tatum has even said publicly on multiple occasions that he doesn’t believe in sitting out games.

“That’s not what the best players do,” Tatum said at a Nike EBYL camp in July. “Compete, play basketball, don’t take it for [expletive] granted.”

These rules will not change anything about the availability of Tatum or Brown. The Celtics that would benefit from additional rest are members of their supporting cast. Kristaps Porzingis and Robert Williams III are both susceptible to injuries, and it’s unclear whether or not Malcolm Brogdon’s elbow injury from last year’s playoffs will impact his performance or availability next season. This means that these new rules would risk adding further damage to their bodies. 

Fortunately for the Celtics, these players are safe from the NBA’s new rules. Porzingis is not considered a “star” by the league, as he made his only all-star appearance in 2018, more than three years ago. No other player on Boston’s current roster has ever made an All-Star Game except Al Horford, whose most recent appearance was also in 2018.

However, these players can be affected if any of them makes the 2024 NBA All-Star Game. If they do, they would be considered a “star.” The NBA may look at the lengthy injury history of Porzingis or Williams and determine that’s enough to allow them certain exceptions, but that’s not a guarantee. For now, none of those players will be impacted by the new rules, which means that this policy should have a miniscule effect, if any, on the 2023-24 Boston Celtics.