Kawhi Leonard became the face of load management when he routinely sat out one game in back-to-back sets in an attempt to manage a quad injury during his lone campaign with the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19.
While the NBA’s new player participation policy is meant to cut down on those type of absences, the Los Angeles Clippers star doesn’t feel any more obligated to suit up.
“I’m not a guy that’s sitting down because I’m doing load management – well, when I was with the Raptors, it was different; like, I was coming (off) an injury,” Leonard told reporters Monday at the Clippers’ media day, including ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. “And you have to know the details from the doctor.
“But if the league is seeing or trying to mock what I did with the Raptors, they should stop because I was injured during that whole year. But other than that, if I’m able to play, I’ll play basketball. I work out every day in the summertime to play the game. So, no league policy is helping me to play more games.”
Leonard didn’t participate on consecutive nights during his first campaign with the Clippers. The two-time Finals MVP hasn’t made more than 57 appearances in a season during his tenure in L.A.
Injuries have limited Leonard’s availability, including a season-long absence due to a torn ACL.
The league’s resting policy does allow players to be exempt from playing in the first or second game of a back-to-back set if they’re deemed to have a “serious” or “unusual” injury history.
Leonard has been cleared for training camp after sustaining a torn meniscus last April in the Clippers’ first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns.
Los Angeles head coach Tyronn Lue has no doubts regarding Leonard’s desire to be on the court with his teammates.
“If our players are healthy, they’re going to play,” Lue said. “I know there’s a big thing, like, our guys don’t like to play or whatever, but that’s not true. Our guys want to play. Unfortunately, they’ve had injuries … So, if our guys are healthy, they’re going to play, and that’s all we’re really focused on.”
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