As part of the tentative new collective bargaining agreement, ESPN sources indicate there are plans to form a wearables committee staffed by league officials and players' union representatives who will manage and regulate the use of biometrics and biometric data of players.
In what has become a hot-button issue, the NBA has seen a rise in star players being rested for regular-season games. On Wednesday night, a barrage of big names, including LeBron James, Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyrie Irving, did not play in scheduled games to rest. So far this season, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Joel Embiid and others have sat at least one game as a healthy scratch. The data devices could be used to manage those workloads and track exertion levels more precisely.
Bloomberg first reported the forming of the advisory committee.
In April, ESPN.com reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers were notified by the league office that guard Matthew Dellavedova was not allowed to wear a device called a WHOOP, which he had strapped to his wrist for 13 games undetected. The device tracked Dellavedova's heart rate and exertion levels during the game. The Cavaliers' assistant athletic trainer Mike Mancias, a longtime trainer for LeBron James, is an advisor on the board of WHOOP, a Boston-based company.
In-game biometric devices are banned by the NBA under its equipment rules, but the new committee will examine which devices, if any, will be permitted in the future and how the data will be monitored, protected and potentially monetized. Teams are already using some devices, such as Catapult, Zephyr and WHOOP, during practices and shootarounds to monitor workloads -- and also to track sleep.
Heart health has become even more of a top priority for the NBA. In June, the Undefeated reported that the league, union and National Basketball Retired Players Association began extra screening and monitoring cardiac health for retired players. The initiative follows the recent deaths of longtime NBA players Moses Malone (60), Sean Rooks (46), Darryl Dawkins (58), Jack Haley (51), Anthony Mason (48) and Caldwell Jones (64).
Top officials in all sports are seriously looking at wearables and the data that they provide.
Major League Baseball is the farthest along, having already approved motus, which tracks in-game performance. The league has recently begun a formal process to review biometric wearables.
Like the NBA, the NHL and the NFL have not approved any data-emitting wearables on the field of play.
ESPN's Darren Rovell contributed to this report.