LOS ANGELES – An other national TV game, another big matchup that L.A. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will not participate in. NBA Spokesman Mike Bass released a statement on Wednesday afternoon on behalf of the league regarding Leonard and his load management.
“Kawhi Leonard is not a healthy player under the league’s resting policy,” said Bass. “And, as such, is listed as managing a knee injury in the LA Clippers injury report. The league office, 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.”
This statement from the league should be posted everywhere as the league essentially confirmed that Leonard is not a healthy player three weeks into the season. The response from the NBA comes after Leonard was ruled out against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, the first half of a back-to-back for the Clippers. The Portland Trail Blazers will take on Los Angeles in the second-half of the back-to-back on Thursday night, also in L.A., and Leonard is expected to play in that game.
Ahead of media day and in the preseason, both Leonard and the Clippers insisted that the two-time NBA Finals MVP was healthy, and that they’d approach their plan for load management at the proper time.
“Last year, I came into the year not fully healthy,” said Leonard at his introductory press conference. “This year coming up, I feel like I’m gonna be at full strength. It’s just one of those things you just take down the road and see how your body’s feeling. The goal right now is to play the season.”
So far, Leonard has missed two games in two back-to-backs. The first was a road-home back to back against the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs. The Clippers have 11 back-to-backs remaining on the season, and if Leonard plans to rest for them all, he’ll finish having played a total of 69 games.
Back on May 30th, ahead of Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Leonard had been dealing with discomfort in his knee due to tendinitis, but that he planned to play through it.
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) May 31, 2019
The Clippers’ next back-to-back set is against the New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets, both on the road. Leonard is expected to rest one of those back-to-backs, more likely the first. The team is hoping superstar Paul George is able to return from his offseason shoulder surgeries against the Rockets.
In six appearances so far this season, Leonard is averaging career highs in points (29.3), rebounds (7.3), assists (5.7), steals (2.3), and blocks (1.0). The 30.5 minutes he’s averaging per game are the fewest minutes he’s averaged since his third year in the league.