LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will sit out a marquee clash with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday as his team continues to manage his workload in view of a knee injury.
On the NBA’s official injury report the reason for Leonard’s absence is “injury/illness, load management (knee)”, and the NBA spoke up to say the move was indeed in line with its guidelines.
League spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement that Leonard “is not a healthy player under the league’s resting policy”, adding that the league office had consulted with the team and was “comfortable” with his absence.
The league prohibits teams from resting healthy players for high-profile nationally televised games, with a fine of $100,000 possible.
Leonard is expected to play on Thursday when the Clippers host Portland in another nationally televised clash.
But fans won’t see him go up against reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo after the two met in the Eastern Conference Finals last season when Leonard played for eventual NBA champions Toronto.
Even so early in the season, the Bucks-Clippers contest was touted as a possible NBA Finals preview.
Leonard is averaging 29.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in six games this season. The Clippers are 5-1 when he plays, but he has already missed one game of a back-to-back for “load management” — a loss at the Utah Jazz last week.
Last season, Leonard credited the Raptors’ cautious management of his workload with having him fit for the team’s championship playoff run. He sat out 22 of 82 regular-season games and was at full force in the post-season.
© Agence France-Presse