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How NBA's new rest rules impact Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers

Portland sitting Lillard out the final 11 games of last season led to the team's increased lottery odds, helping them land rookie guard Scoot Henderson.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The NBA board of governors unanimously voted on Wednesday to approve new policies and punishments for teams who sit out star players, in an effort to avoid tanking and to prevent nationally televised games from happening when stars are on the bench.

The NBA will fine teams who violate this new policy, which includes ensuring teams are not resting multiple star players (defined as anyone who has made the All-Star or All-NBA teams in any of the past three seasons), that star players are available for nationally televised and in-season tournament games, and that long-term shutdowns (typically done at the end of the season) are avoided.

Locked on Blazers host Mike Richman breaks down the NBA's new policies and how it impacts Portland and Damian Lillard, who was shut down for 11 games at the end of last season and is currently in the midst of a messy trade request with the team.

"The Blazers tanking and losing on purpose, incentivized by the league because of their lottery system, changed the direction of the franchise," Richman said. "It was incredibly important they lose those games. Under these new rules, you wouldn't be allowed to do that."

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Portland sitting Lillard the final 11 games of last season directly resulted in the team's increased lottery odds, helping them land potential franchise cornerstone Scoot Henderson. 

As long as the league's lottery system rewards teams with poor records, franchises like Portland - who struggle to land marquee free agents as a small market program - will be incentivized to go after the best possible draft position. 

The league's decision to punish teams who do so, while keeping the same reward system in place, creates an even tougher situation for teams like Portland, Milwaukee, Sacramento, and others. 

Plus, the league's definition of star player creates some interesting wrinkles for certain teams. Denver does not have two star players as Jamal Murray does not qualify, while a player like Kemba Walker (currently playing overseas) would count as a star player if he were to re-sign with an NBA team since he was an All-Star in 2020. Would signing Walker to a 10-day contract subject the team to potential fines if he were to sit?

These rules are likely going to create some interesting situations in the upcoming 2023-24 NBA season, and could impact how Portland handles Lillard's outstanding trade request, as they are unable to sit him if he remains with the team early in the season, lest they be subject to fines from the league.

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