The Minnesota Timberwolves were fined $25,000 by the NBA on Thursday for violating the league’s policy on resting players for benching guard D’Angelo Russell at Denver on Sunday.
The 24-year-old guard, who came to the T-Wolves from Golden State in a trade deal for Andrew Wiggins on February 6, was considered a healthy player under the NBA’s player resting policy.
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Russell, in his fifth NBA campaign after being selected with the second pick of the 2015 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, spent two seasons in LA and two more with Brooklyn before joining Golden State ahead of this season.
The NBA cracked down on teams resting players from certain games, notably road contests or high-profile matchups, with a rule passed ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
Last year, the league cracked down on teams trying to use the term “load management” to effectively sit players for rest as needed, negating the move except in unusual situations.
Minnesota lost 128-116 at Denver on Sunday in the middle game of three contests in four days, the T-Wolves also falling 127-117 at home to Boston last Friday and 139-123 at Dallas on Monday.
Russell had 18 points, 13 assists and six rebounds in 34 minutes against Boston, missed the game two days later against the Nuggets then came back the following night to score 29 points in 31 minutes on the floor against the Mavericks.
Russell is averaging 23.7 points, 6.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds a game this season. he is averaging just over 25 points a game in five games with Minnesota, which won for the first time with him in the lineup 129-126 on Wednesday at Miami.
At 17-40, the Timberwolves have the second-worst record in the Western Conference, ahead of only Golden State.