One of the hottest topics in the NBA today is the topic of NBA superstars taking games off to rest. The trend of big name players not playing in games so they can rest has been an issue for a few years now but it is more prominent now than it has ever been. Now while the older generation of NBA fans may use this as another opportunity to say that this generation of players is soft, the younger more analytical thinkers may attribute this ever growing trend to smart strategy. After all, the NBA season is much longer than football season and takes more of a physical toll on players than baseball, so rest every now and then would make sense when thinking of it from a longevity standpoint. Why risk an injury playing in games when you are 8 games ahead of the next team in a playoff hunt and there are only a few weeks left in the season? When thinking about it in such a black and white, cut and dry nature like that, it makes total sense. But it’s not that simple.
There are a few arguments as to why this is such a big issue, one being that fact that fans pay quite a bit of money to see their favorite superstars play, only to have them decide not to play at the last second. Another being the television stations losing money because not as many people are tuning in to see Richard Jefferson battle Kyle Anderson instead of LeBron James taking on Kawhi Leonard. But one topic that isn’t being discussed as much out in the media is sports betting and NBA rest.
The simple answer to that question is yes. Not only are legal sportsbooks in Las Vegas hurting, but the various legal online sports betting sites are taking a hit as well. It affects the handle or amount wagered on games when primetime games don’t feature star players and it’s been estimated that the handle dips by an incredible 25% when superstars decided to sit out a game. One sportsbook director said that this factor helps the handle in some games but not in a good way. There are people who can find out who is resting before the public is made aware and that has led to unfair advantages, which is a big problem.
While that trickle effect could happen with any inside information, this is still a problem that these sportsbooks would rather not have to deal with as it could lead to people discrediting their site and could ultimately lead to a loss of business. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that the NBA had to deal with a referee fixing scandal, which was a nightmare for the sports betting industry.
That being said, the NBA doesn’t like this issue just as much as sportsbooks and there should be some changes in the works to figure out a way to limit or structure these rest days in a more organized way. Shortening the season has always been an oft-debated topic but that is unlikely to happen. They could also designate a certain amount of games in which a player can take off, and have them schedule them ahead of time so it isn’t so random. Perhaps the most likely solution is to speak in terms that everyone understands, money. Take away players game checks, and pay incentives for games that they take off, that should at least limit the number of times a player needs a rest.
It may seem like we are trying to control these athletes at times but the fans are one of the biggest parts of sporting events as well as sports betting and NBA rest just takes a fan's interest out of the picture. This issue needs to be resolved to appease both the players, fans, and everyone else losing money on these rest decisions. The potential resolution will likely happen during the offseason so stay on top of all the latest NBA news to keep up with this hot debate about sports betting in California.