NBA issues statement on Clippers resting Kawhi Leonard in back-to-back games

Jeff Blair and Richard Deitsch debate whether or not the Los Angeles Clippers and Kawhi Leonard are doing a disservice to NBA fans by sitting for back-to-back games against other premier talent like Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Mike Bass, a spokesman for the NBA, has issued a statement on the Los Angeles Clippers‘ decision to rest Kawhi Leonard during back-to-back games, asserting that the league is “comfortable” with the Clippers’ approach.

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. The league ofice, in consultation with the NBA’s director of sports medicine, is comfortable with the team medical staff’s determination that Leonard is not sufficiently healthy to play in back-to-back games at this time.

The league’s statement comes on the heels of Los Angeles announcing that Leonard will miss Wednesday night’s nationally televised matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks — a choice that drew criticism from prominent NBA commentators such as Doris Burke.

“Kawhi not playing, to me, is ridiculous at this point. … To me, the league has a problem,” Burke said during an appearance on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo radio show.

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.

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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.

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, has frequently been at the centre of the load management debate after the Raptors stuck to a strategy of resting him during the regular season last year. Leonard appeared in 60 regular season games for Toronto before appearing in 24 post-season contests, en route to helping Toronto claim their first-ever NBA Championship.

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 after playing the Bucks is on Thursday against Conference-rivals, the Portland Trailblazers.

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