NBA fines Clippers for statements on Kawhi Leonard’s health status

NBA-Clippers-coach-Rivers-pleads-to-officials

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers gestures to officials from the sidelines. (Ben Margot/AP)

The NBA has fined the Los Angeles Clippers $50,000 for statements, including those made by head coach Doc Rivers, that were inconsistent with Kawhi Leonard‘s health status, the league announced on Thursday.

When discussing the decision to rest Leonard prior to last night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Rivers said that “he (Leonard) feels great. But he feels great because of what we’ve been doing. We’re just going to continue to do it. 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…”

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These comments, not the act of resting Leonard itself, were what the league deemed deserving of a fine.

In announcing the fine, the NBA reaffirmed that the team’s decision to sit Leonard for load management was consistent with league rules.

Following additional review of the LA Clippers not playing Kawhi Leonard in last night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA has confirmed that the team’s decision to sit Leonard for management of an injury was consistent with league rules. 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.

Leonard told reporters he was disappointed by the fine.

“He’s my coach and I’m on his side,” he said. “I’m not a doctor, but we’re going to do what’s best for me to be healthy so I can play basketball games. I can’t read too much into it.”

Load management, the decision to rest players from games in an effort to preserve their health that was made famous by the Toronto Raptors last season, has been contentious and the discourse over it was reignited with Leonard sitting out last night’s nationally televised game against the Bucks.

Leonard, who missed all but nine games of the 2017-18 season as a member of the San Antonio Spurs while dealing with quadriceps tendinopathy, a chronic issue, has frequently been at the centre of the resting players debate.

Supporters of the strategy regularly point to the bevy of evidence that suggests resting players facilitates recovery, contributing to improved on-court performance and long-term health. Detractors often highlight the impact that resting star players has on the NBA’s ability to guarantee putting a top-quality product in front of fans on a nightly basis.

The Clippers lost last night’s game against the Bucks, 129-124. In six appearances with the Clippers this season, Leonard has averaged 29.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists.

Los Angeles’ next game is tonight against the Portland Trailblazers.

— with files from The Associated Press

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