The NBA and especially its fans have a big problem with load management, especially when it concerns resting some of the biggest stars in the league. One of these situations will occur tonight when the Milwaukee Bucks play the Los Angeles Clippers who will sit out Kawhi Leonard because of “load management”. Kawhi has been spectacular this season and is one of the early candidates for the MVP award, but he already received some nights off. That will be the second game out of eight games so far this season that Kawhi will sit out, which is a problem. Kawhi was supposed to face off against the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on a nationally televised game.
The fans are deprived of this matchup that was especially interesting last season when the Raptors faced off against the Bucks in the eastern conference finals. The main reason why Doc Rivers decided to rest Kawhi is that the Clippers are playing the Portland Trailblazers the next day, also on a nationally televised game. Maybe Doc Rivers gave more priority playing Kawhi against a direct conference contender rather than the Bucks; however, from the point of a regular fan, a healthy player should be able to play back-to-back games no matter the circumstances.
The Toronto Raptors also adopted this method with Kawhi, who sit out certain games so he can be fresh and healthy for the players, which worked. Kawhi dismantled every single opponent on his way to an NBA championship, and this is the recipe Doc Rivers plans to use this season as well.
The main problem that lies here is the narrative that fans are paying absurd amounts of money to watch these players compete. It’s also to some degree upsetting Kawhi himself doesn’t want to play against the reigning MVP Giannis, and as a competitor, show he is better and that he can help his team win against a team that he might again see in the NBA finals.
The league is trying it’s best to prohibit teams from resting players for important, nationally-televised games. The fines are around $100,000; however, it was announced the Clippers would not get a fine because they received the approval from the league office ahead of time.