Over the last couple of years, the trend around the league has geared towards load management involving some of the biggest stars. No one has been more of a proponent of that game plan than L.A. Clippers star forward Kawhi Leonard. It has quickly become the case in his first campaign with the Clippers as Leonard is set to miss Wednesday’s contest against the Milwaukee Bucks, which has drawn some ire around the league. With that in mind, the NBA has weighed on the situation.
Clippers decide to sit Kawhi Leonard against Bucks
Over the past couple of seasons, Leonard has taken a more precautionary approach with his health since the entire ordeal over his groin injury back while he was with the San Antonio Spurs.
The Clippers voiced before the start of the regular season that there was no load management plan laid out for Leonard, which he had also stated on numerous occasions. The team is currently dealing with All-Star forward Paul George being out due to his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.
Leonard has already missed one game this season, which came on the first leg of a back-to-back stretch against the Utah Jazz but did play the next night against the San Antonio Spurs. He is now set to miss a second straight primetime matchup on Wednesday, this time against the Bucks, which has drawn some sharp criticism. It didn’t take long for the NBA to give their take on the entire matter.
NBA backs Clippers’ decision to sit Kawhi Leonard
The Clippers’ decision to sit Leonard due to what’s listed as a knee injury has drawn ire in regards to resting players.
The NBA has now given their take on the situation, stating that L.A. has fallen within the guidelines and is managing a knee injury that gave the team reasonable pause not to play him back-to-back games. (h/t Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN)
“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,” spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN on Wednesday. “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.”
However, the Clippers have stayed away from publicly laying out a management plan for Leonard as it has become clear that he will not be playing both ends of a back-to-back set. Their long-term goal centers on keeping the reigning Finals MVP healthy to allow him to lead them to compete for an NBA title.
The biggest takeaway here from the NBA’s comments is that the league has deemed Leonard to be hurt, which the resting policy doesn’t apply.
The NBA is protecting its stars
The league may support the Clippers’ decision to sit Leonard, but it puts him out of a marquee matchup in the regular season.
That pumps the breaks on seeing two of the league’s best players facing each other for the first time since last year’s playoffs. It may just be one game, but it’s clear that they are looking out for the long-term health of their stars.
There is a fair argument to be made against the choice to sit out another primetime matchup due to the sake of the fans, but the Clippers and NBA want their best players to remain healthy. That sets the table for this same situation to arise again, with teams using the same reasoning to sit out their star players in nationally-televised games.
Ultimately, only time will tell what will transpire with the use of the resting policy in the NBA.