Leonard sat out for the second time this season on Wednesday against Milwaukee as part of the team’s load management strategy for the superstar forward. Los Angeles’ decision to sit Leonard for ESPN’s nationally-televised game against Milwaukee was questioned in many circles.
Rivers unwittingly fanned the flames by saying in his press conference on Wednesday that Leonard felt just fine.
“He feels great. But he feels great because of what we’ve been doing… We’re just going to continue to do it,” Rivers said. “There’s no concern here. But we want to make sure. I think Kawhi made a statement that he’s never felt better. It’s our job to make sure he stays that way.”
Leonard’s absence was listed as a knee issue. The league’s statement regarding the fine indicated the team’s decision to sit Leonard was “consistent with league rules,” adding, “The team has reasonably determined that Leonard is suffering from an ongoing injury to the patella tendon in his left knee and has been placed by the team at this time on an injury protocol for back-to-back games.”
Essentially, the league has signed off on allowing Leonard to sit out a game on back-to-backs as long as the team doesn’t give the impression that Leonard is 100 percent.
The Clippers play the Trail Blazers in another nationally-televised event, this one on TNT, on Thursday night. Leonard played only 60 regular-season games in his lone season with the Raptors due to load management, which helped to keep him fresh for the postseason.