Tyrese Haliburton is not a fan of the NBA’s new player participation policy. After practice on Monday, as Haliburton was planning on returning from a five-game absence, the All-Star guard sounded off on the league’s new rule which has a minimum games played requirement for end-of-season awards and All-NBA honors.
But let’s rewind a second to provide some context. When the NBA and player’s union agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement in April 2023, a rule that was slipped in there was a player participation policy, which set a 65-game threshold for players to be eligible for awards like Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year, as well as All-NBA honors. Players are also required to play a minimum of 20 minutes in each of those 65 games to be eligible.
Already, we’ve seen how that rule could come into play for MVP, as Joel Embiid, who is leading the league in scoring and had been a heavy favorite to repeat for the award,to remain eligible. Haliburton is now also feeling the impact that policy could have, primarily in his bank account. Haliburton’s max contract extension that he signed last summer allowed him to earn up to 30% of the Pacers’ salary cap starting with the 2024-25 season, but only if he made an All-NBA team during the 2023-24 season. He’s already missed 13 games this season, and he only played 13 minutes in an early January game against the Celtics, which is when he got injured — so it doesn’t count toward the 65-game threshold. This means he can only miss three more games to remain eligible for All-NBA and to earn reportedly an extra $40 million over the life of his contract.
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“I think it’s a stupid rule, like plenty of the guys in the league, but this is what the owners want, so as players, we gotta do our job and play in 65 games if we’re able to,” Haliburton said. “So, that’s what I gotta do, take care of my body to be able to play in those games, and I think you’re seeing other players in the league kind of face the same thing. As long as the owners are happy.”
It’s an interesting circumstance because it’s not as if Haliburton was load managing and just sitting out games. Prior to suiting back up for the Pacers on Tuesday against the Celtics, Haliburton had missed 10 of the last 11 games due to a hamstring injury. That’s where this rule may need some tweaking down the line, because if a player misses 18 games over the course of the season due to various injuries and ailments, but should without question be on an All-NBA team, or should be in the running for something like Defensive Player of the Year, then that rule shouldn’t just disqualify them. We’ll have to see how this rule impacts this season, because it doesn’t sound like the players, as Haliburton is saying, are too thrilled on this policy.