The concept of load management has become a controversial strategy in the NBA as players sit out games to rest in anticipation of a long season. That draws the ire of many people including hot take analysts, irritated fans, and even the former players who weren’t involved in such a concept during their time.
In a recent situation, Kawhi Leonard was held out of the first night of back-to-back games on the Clippers’ schedule this past Wednesday. Doc Rivers made comments regarding Kawhi sitting out, and upon league review, they hit the team with a $50,000 fine.
What did Doc Rivers say about Kawhi Leonard?
Leonard reportedly sat out this past week’s game due to an ongoing injury in his left knee. It’s not serious enough to sideline him for a stretch of time, but apparently enough that the team does not want to push him in back-to-back situations. long
However, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers made a statement to the contrary regarding Kawhi’s health, which got the league’s attention.
“He feels great,” Rivers said this past Wednesday. “But he feels great because of what we’ve been doing. And we are just going to continue to do it. There’s no concern here. But we want to make sure.”
“I think Kawhi made the statement he’s never felt better,” Rivers continued in his statements. “It’s our job to make sure he stays that way. And that’s important. But he played a lot of minutes in the playoffs last year. And it’s not a health thing. Really it is, in some ways, we want him to just keep feeling better and getting better.”
However, the league determined there is a “health thing” going on with Kawhi Leonard and that Rivers along with other members of the Clippers organization made “inconsistent statements.”
According to Real GM, the NBA issued a release saying, “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.”
Here’s the full statement from the league regarding the fine after Rivers’ comments:
NBA fines Clippers $50,000 for inconsistent comments from the team, including coach Doc Rivers, about the health status of Kawhi Leonard and the decision to rest him last night vs. Milwaukee pic.twitter.com/WzFMJvsh7E
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) November 7, 2019
Kawhi Leonard also commented on the situation when recently speaking to the media, calling it “shocking” that the NBA released details of his ongoing injury as they did.
He also spoke about the nature of his current injury saying they plan to just “keep managing it” and “moving forward.” Leonard didn’t give any indication of how long he plans to sit out back-to-backs for this season as he reminded reporters, “I’m not a doctor” and that the training staff makes the decisions.
Coach Rivers gets milestone victory
In the wake of the fine news, the team including Kawhi Leonard helped Rivers achieve a milestone. With last night’s 107-101 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, they gave Rivers his 900th career victory.
He’s now the 13th coach in the history of the NBA to achieve the feat joining a club that includes Gregg Popovich, Lenny Wilkens, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, and the late Red Auerbach, among others.
— NBA (@NBA) November 8, 2019
There’s also the possibility that by the end of the season, Rivers will hold the No. 10 spot for all-time wins. With 39 more wins, he’ll move past Auerbach to No. 11, and with 45 he’ll move to No. 10, passing Bill Fitch, per the NBA website.
Following last night’s milestone win, Rivers spoke to the media about a variety of topics including the recent fine and load management.
Kawhi Leonard factored into the Clippers’ latest win over the Trail Blazers with 27 points and 13 rebounds. It’s likely that he’ll factor into many more wins this season, should he remain healthy and able to participate.