When the reports came out that the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs faced fines for resting players, some on social media voiced a rational question: Why have the Oklahoma City Thunder not been fined as well?
The Toronto Star’s Doug Smith explained that the fine wasn’t simply due to the rest, but because after the Raptors had listed the three as out for rest, head coach Nick Nurse said that Anunoby had knee swelling and Lowry was dealing with a chronic foot infection.
Because of that discrepancy between the injury report and Nurse’s pregame remarks, the team was fined.
As for the Spurs, San Antonio rested DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills and Jakob Poeltl against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.
The league’s resting policy states that teams should not rest multiple healthy players on the same road game, according to ESPN.
San Antonio was visiting Phoenix, so they too were hit with a $25,000 fine.
This provides some clarification for why the Thunder haven’t been fined, though it doesn’t completely explain it.
Obviously, Al Horford has been benched for the season. It’s possible that there’s a difference in how the Thunder listed him on the injury report than how a team resting a player in a normal situation does.
Fans of away teams oftentimes go to games to see specific opponents play, which is a reason the NBA does not want a team resting multiple players on the same night in other stadiums. If fans are aware Horford is out, they’ll be prepared to not see him before they purchase a ticket.
That’s purely speculation, by the way.
Additionally, the Thunder almost always, if not always, have injury designations for players who are out. Mike Muscala, for instance, is listed with an ankle injury, even though it is unlikely he would get on the court as the team focuses on the evaluation of young players. Starters who miss individual games here and there are typically labeled with some form of specific but minor injury that head coach Mark Daigneault says comes with the wear-and-tear of such a condensed season.
That could be the basic rationale for the Thunder’s situation with the league office.
And as a fun note, not that it matters — both the Raptors and Spurs won the games they were fined for.