OAKLAND, Calif. — The issue of NBA coaches resting their star players was center stage again this week when Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue did not even bring LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to Wednesday’s game in Memphis against the Grizzlies.
Fans who paid to see James and the Cavs stars were left out in the cold. Chances are there wouldn’t be as much of an uproar if the Knicks did it, but both Carmelo Anthony and coach Jeff Hornacek admitted there could be a rest day in Anthony’s future.
“I think everyone needs a rest day, to be honest with you,’’ Anthony said. “I think if you’re an NBA player, professional athlete, you need a rest day. It’s a matter of when you take it, how you take it. The decision is not just mine, it’s a collective as a whole. Whatever is the best situation for that individual. ”
Anthony has played in all 25 Knicks games, but was out Thrusday night against the Warriors at Oracle Arena. He said he almost took off a game earlier in the season, although it is not clear which one.
“You got to take a look at it,” Hornacek said. “We thought about it another time. He wanted to play. He’s a competitor. have the luxury and cushion to do that. We’re not at that point yet. We’ll see how it goes. If he needs a break, we’ll give him a break.”
Said Anthony: “I’ve thought about it . . . take a rest day. [Then] I come out and have one of my best games. It all depends on how I’m feeling.”
On Wednesday, the Cavaliers fell to 18-6 with a 93-85 loss to Memphis. Oh, well. It probably won’t negatively affect Cleveland’s chances to defend its NBA title.
James, though, reacted angrily to the suggestion it wasn’t OK for him and his pals to take a breather.
“I do whatever my coach asks me to do,” James said. “My coach wants me to rest. I don’t buck my coach. That’s what he wants and that’s what we’re going to do. I’ve been in this league 14 years. I shouldn’t have to explain me sitting out a game or not playing games. I’ve played in every arena, including Seattle, that’s no longer here. It’s not like it’s my first year. I’ve got 14 years. I’ve paid my dues, and more than a lot of guys in this league.”
The resting guys phenomenon started with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich sitting stars such as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. The Spurs were fined $250,000 in 2012 by then NBA commissioner David Stern for not bringing Duncan, Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green to Miami for a December game against the Heat.
But the practice continued. Anthony’s take: “If there’s a time to take rest to take care of your body, you take that. It’s not like the end of the season or we need a game to win to make it. If you’re going to take any game, I’d rather it be right now, early in the season.”
Anthony went into Thursday having shot 7-for-31 in the previous two games. Is fatigue a factor?
“There are times he looks a little tired on the shot,’’ Hornacek said. “At this point everyone’s getting aches, bumps and bruises, and that achiness, you got to play through it. If he comes to us and says, ‘Look, I need to take couple of days off,’ we’ll do that. We try not to practice him very hard, trying to save him for the games.”