The NBA laid the law on the Los Angeles Clippers for deciding to rest a healthy Kawhi Leonard. Here’s how this stance could have an effect on the Houston Rockets’ plans as well.
This strategy has already been employed with Westbrook, as the team decided to rest him in the first sequence of back-to-back games of the season. The Houston Rockets decided to rest “The Brodie” in their sixth game against the Memphis Grizzlies, despite him being fully healthy.
The Los Angeles Clippers have decided to employ a similar strategy with 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who has an injury history of his own. The Clippers decided to rest Leonard despite coach Doc Rivers admitting that Kawhi is 100 percent healthy, which is certainly not something commissioner Adam Silver was pleased with. The Clippers ultimately received a $50,000 fine from the league office, which made it clear how they view load management.
ESPN’s Rachel Nichols broke down the Clippers’ load management fiasco regarding Kawhi:
The NBA fines the Clippers $50,000 after Doc Rivers says Kawhi was “healthy” last night. (Translation: the league stuck its neck out with a fanbase frustrated with ‘load management’ because officials believed Kawhi has a legit health issue…then watched Doc say Kawhi is fine.) pic.twitter.com/42jQfceBjv
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 7, 2019
It would be interesting if the league decides to crack down on load management this season because it’s a strategy the Toronto Raptors employed on Kawhi during the 2018-19 season, and everyone knows how that turned out.
This situation could have implications for the Houston Rockets, especially if Morey does indeed decide to rest Westbrook and Harden to keep them healthy and preserved for the postseason, as that implies they would both sit if they are healthy and not injured.
If the league is going to issue a stance that suggests they are against “load management”, it seems that would affect the Rockets’ plans of resting Westbrook and Harden, so what would the Rockets do instead?
While it would go against the original plan to rest either Harden or Westbrook on back-to-backs, D’Antoni might consider just playing them on restricted minutes in those cases. What this hard stance against load management could also do is encourage players to create medical reasons as to why they can’t play, which would be easy to get team doctors to agree on.
It’s possible that the league just decided to impose punishment on the Clips because they essentially lied about Kawhi by first saying he was fully healthy and later saying he’s injured, but it seems like this became an issue because Kawhi didn’t play in a nationally televised game.
If that’s the concern, this could be tricky for the Rockets because they have the third-most nationally televised games this season, so it would seem like the Rockets would eventually end up crossing that path also.
It will be interesting to see if the league decides to crack down on the load management issue across the board because if they do, it would certainly have an impact on the Rockets’ handling of their superstar backcourt.