OAKLAND, Calif. — The issue of NBA coaches resting their star players took center stage again this week when Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue did not even bring LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to Wednesday night’s game in Memphis against the Grizzlies.
Coincidentally, the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony had been talking openly about their star getting a game off soon to rest. And eyebrows were raised Thursday afternoon when the Knicks suddenly announced that Anthony would miss Thursday night’s game against the Warriors with a sore right shoulder.
After the Knicks got stuck in massive traffic on the Bay Bridge and arrived at Oracle Arena less than an hour before game time Thursday night, Anthony said he suffered a bruise to his shoulder on Sunday when the Knicks played the Lakers. That was the stated reason he joined the injured Derrick Rose (back) on the bench against Golden State.
“Even this morning,” Anthony said, “when I was doing workouts and not being full strength, there was no way I could get out there tonight.”
Anthony said he hopes to return Friday at Denver for the final game of this western swing. Anthony said the injury, which he said might have occurred when he dived for a ball, has “totally, totally, totally, totally” affected his shooting. Anthony shot 7-for-31 in the two games before Thursday night.
Before his injury was revealed, Anthony spoke about the possibility of taking a game off just to rest.
“I think everyone needs a rest day, to be honest with you,’’ he 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 played in all 25 previous games. He said he almost took off a game earlier in the season (it is not clear which one).
“You got to take a look at it,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We thought about it another time. He wanted to play. He’s a competitor. [The Cavaliers] 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 of defending its NBA title.
James, though, reacted angrily to the suggestion that 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.”
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.
It wouldn’t seem as if the Knicks have the luxury to rest Anthony, but it sounds as if they were going to do so eventually anyway.
“I don’t want to say who has the luxury and who doesn’t,” Anthony said. “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.”