Only nine games into the NBA season, small forward Kawhi Leonard has already missed two games for "load management" for his injured left knee. However, this excuse has come under fire for the fact that both games that Leonard has not played in were nationally televised games. Head coach Doc Rivers did not help his superstar's case with recent comments he made when asked about Leonard's injury.
When asked about his health, Rivers told the press that Leonard, "feels great" and that his games missed are not a concern, contradicting Leonard's and the organization's claim that the missed games were for his left knee. The NBA, upon Leonard's absences and River's contradictory comments, leveled a $50,000 fine on the Clippers team.
Load management has been a recent trend in the NBA that started, interestingly enough, with another team that featured Kawhi Leonard. The San Antonio Spurs in the early 2010s would occasionally sit some of the veteran starters like Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, as well as a young Leonard, to give them days off. The NBA would fine the team, but that would not stop them and other teams to adopt the method of resting their best players.
LeBron James has taken "load management" days as a member of both the Miami Heat and during his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Just last year, returning to the NBA after missing most of the previous season and to preserve his body for the postseason, Leonard, a member of the Toronto Raptors, missed 22 games throughout the year.
As the Clippers gear up for the rest of their schedule and prepare for a returning Paul George, as well as Leonard, the commissioner's office of the NBA, has to now deal with what to do with "load management." There are some concerns that, as many of these games are nationally televised with TV deals, networks would re-negotiate with the NBA because star players are deciding to sit out games, hurting ratings. Retired players who are now commentators have spoken out against the games taken off and what it means for fans who wish to see their favorite players. Load management has also brought the concern that the regular season in the NBA might be viewed as irrelevant, with top players not concerning themselves with the sport until the postseason. The NBA season has just tipped off, but the subject of "load management" will be one discussed for the upcoming years.