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Is NBA moving towards fining Brooklyn Nets for holding out players vs. Milwaukee Bucks?

Last season, the Nets beat the Pacers with a skeleton crew and got fined $25,000. Last Wednesday, the Nets ultimately sat seven players and lost. They might get fined again.

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

The NBA is looking into fining the Brooklyn Nets for the team’s decision to sit four players prior to the home game with the Milwaukee Bucks last Wednesday, then pulling three other players after the first quarter, moves that got called out by various pundits ... and more importantly, one of the players, Mikal Bridges.

Brian Lewis reported Sunday that the NBA is indeed looking into possible sanctions...

While the Nets continue to insist there was no violation of NBA rules regarding load management, NBA writers like Chris Mannix and Mike Vaccaro suggested the team should be fined. Specifically, Vaccaro cited the financial and psychic losses fans suffered when they learned that instead of the Brooklyn Nets, they would be watching the Long Island Nets. Indeed, the Nets used five players who normally toil in the G League and although they did well — scoring 61 points — and the game was close — eight points going into the fourth quarter — the experience was not the same went the criticism. Moreover, the Nets lost, 144-122, in front of 18,199 fans, a near record turnout for the team.

“I’ve got to think short term and long term and make executive decisions for the betterment of the group,” Vaughn said at the time. “It’s unfortunate tonight that they just got to the point where we’re putting them in harm’s way by putting them out there tonight.”

The league has become increasingly sensitive to load management issues and there’s new language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement providing the NBA with new enforcement mechanisms. However, since none of the players rested qualify as “stars” under the new CBA and the game was not nationally televised, the league would seem to have some limits in assessing fines.

However, last year, when the Nets sat eight players vs. the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis — including Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons — but still won, the NBA fined the team $25,000 for “failing to comply with league policies governing injury reporting.” The fine was levied five days after the game in that case.

The Nets, as Vaughn noted, have been dealing with both a tight schedule and injuries. Wednesday night was the team’s fifth game in seven days and after facing the Wizards Friday night, they have five more in the next eight days before they jet off to Paris on January 8 for a game three days later. Moreover, the injury and illness bug has hit them fairly hard. Before the game vs. Milwaukee, Vaughn revealed that some players “didn’t reveal they were dealing with sicknesses” on the recently concluded West Coast trip.

If indeed the Nets do get fined, don’t expect any announcement until at least Tuesday when league offices re-open.