The Los Angeles Clippers have tried to navigate a murky situation with their All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard after deeming him not healthy enough to take part in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The game was the first of a back-to-back and one broadcasted on national television, which called for some uproar after Leonard missed his second game this season due to load management, in only eight games.
Leonard said he feels healthy, while the NBA released a statement corroborating the opinion of the Clippers’ medical staff, which deemed him unfit to play. Head coach Doc Rivers cleared up that disagreement on Wednesday after a 129-124 loss to the Bucks.
“He feels great. But he feels great because of what we’ve been doing, you know,” said Rivers, according to Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints. “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. That’s important. But he played a lot of minutes in the playoffs last year. So, it’s not, uh, a health thing really. It is in some ways. We want him to just keep feeling better and getting better.”
When asked who is in charge of making the decisions of when his star player will or won’t play, Rivers spoke matter-of-factly:
“The team, everybody,” he said. “We’re all on board.”
Leonard missed 22 games last season, some due to real injuries and others due to the caution of load management. Now more than a year separated from the 2017-18 season that saw him miss 73 games with the San Antonio Spurs, some around NBA circles have been in real unrest for the way the Clippers are choosing to handle his injury situation.