League OK With Kawhi Leonard’s Load Management

The Clippers are hearing complaints after deciding to rest Kawhi Leonard in a pair of nationally televised games, but the NBA has ruled that the load management plan falls within league guidelines, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Leonard will sit out tonight’s home game against the Bucks, depriving viewers of a match-up between reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the MVP of last season’s NBA Finals. L.A. isn’t currently planning to use Leonard in back-to-back situations any time during the season, sources tell Wojnarowski, and the Clippers host Portland tomorrow night.

“Kawhi Leonard is not a healthy player under the league’s resting policy, and, as such, is listed as managing a knee injury in the LA Clippers injury report,” league spokesman Mike Bass said. “The league office, in consultation with the NBA’s director of sports medicine, is comfortable with team medical staff’s determination that Leonard is not sufficiently healthy to play in back-to-back games at this time.”

The Raptors employed the same strategy last year, using Leonard in just 60 regular season games. That preserved him for the playoffs, where he averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in 24 games and led Toronto to its first NBA title.

Wojnarowski notes that Leonard hasn’t played on back-to-back nights since April of 2017 when he was still with the Spurs. A quad injury the following season limited him to nine games for the season and led to a falling out with the organization.

“He feels great because of what we’ve been doing,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). “There’s no concern here. Our job is to make sure he stays that way.”

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29 thoughts on “League OK With Kawhi Leonard’s Load Management

  1. imindless

    Add 15 losses to this team without kawhi and an additional 15 with him thats 30 losses and likely a first tough 1st round match up. All due to load management. Id be upset if i paid to see 2 heavy weights go at it just to find out one of the teams is sitting out there best player.

      • imindless

        If you think this team is good without kawhi you are the one that is mindless.

        Harden westbroke mvps i would pipe down as a rockets fan you have absolutely nothing to look forward to besides mediocrity.

        • harden-westbrook-mvps

          Rockets started 11-14 last year and finished 53-29.

          Lakers started 17-10 last year and finished 37-45.

          The only mediocrity for either of those teams will be in LA.

      • GoingYard16

        Is it mindless to spend probably over $400 for a family of four anticipating a great re-match only to find one is on this dubious “load management?”
        This was the Bucks only appearance and most likely our hypothetical family’s only game this year because of ridiculous seat pricing. If Leonard was ready to play against Portland the next day then surely he could have logged some minutes against the Bucks.

    • petersdylan36

      That logic of playoff matchup seems odd.
      If they go 52-30, that would have been good for 5th in the West last year. They don’t win all 15 games he sits out because that unreasonable.
      My point being the west is so deep that unless they get the 1 seed, the first round will be tough. The idea is they will be healthy and talented enough in the playoffs that it won’t matter their seed.
      I will argue that it is rather lame that he is out tonight in such a high profile game. If I paid good money to go tonight and found out he wasn’t playing, I would be disappointed

    • Curtisrowe

      He’s probably not going to play 15 games this year…you think they are going to lose all of them? That’s not smart.

    • Load management is fine in a vacuum, but in a crowded West, it could have some negative consequences.

      Say LAC punt 8 games this season, and then Leonard/George misses extended time due to an unforeseen injury. With only a couple of games separating the 7-9th seeds most years, those punted games could be the difference between making the playoffs or not.

      Last year, the Raptors could afford to do that because they were in the East. The Clippers will have a much smaller margin for error this year.

  2. harden-westbrook-mvps

    This is the future of the NBA, 82 games is a very long season. If the Warriors were smart enough (and deep enough) to do the same with Curry he wouldn’t be out for probably the rest of the season. Load management worked in Toronto and will continue to in LA (at least for the Clippers since the Lakers aren’t smart enough to do it).

    • snotrocket

      Who is to say Steph would have been resting the game he broke his hand in and not playing. Injuries like that are just unlucky. Load management only makes sense for guys who have nagging injuries, beyond just an occasional night off like has been around forever.

    • SheaGoodbye

      If your username didn’t give away your insanity, this comment definitely does.

      Since when would rest have prevented a guy from landing on Curry’s hand?

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        Because he is way more fragile than Kawhi. Curry will probably have a career-ending ankle injury over the next year or two. Just wait and see.

    • GoingYard16

      Load management is an insult to the fans who come to see the stars. This is another goofy trend. if you’re healthy enough to play the next day, you’re healthy enough to play that day. The season is what only 8 games old and already a player needs a rest.
      Apparently you are a Rockets fan. Isn’t it interesting that Harden has said he wants nothing to do with load management? How do you feel about that? If it’s OK for Leonard to sit out, then why not Harden? I’m awaiting your response.

  3. IslandFlava

    Kawhi is just a fragile player, so seems that he needs to be rested & protected… SMH!

  4. SumTingWong

    & yet the bucks /clippers game came down to the final seconds 129-124. probably would have been a slightly different outcome with Leonard and George playing. still early days people so lets all take a deep breath and calm down OK?

  5. OCTraveler

    “Hey Kawhi … will you please justify to me dropping $200 to take my son to his first NBA game and having to tell him that his favorite player is “too fragile” to play every game?”

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      At least he’s not as fragile as Steph Curry who can’t play any game.

      • GoingYard16

        Can you post something that makes a little bit of sense instead of your ridiculous homer comments?
        Your Curry/Kawhi comparison is absurd.

  6. OCTraveler

    Clippers announce new season ticket plan with a discount for games that the superstars chose not to play.

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