(Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard pushed back on the notion that he's one of the targets of a new policy on overload management, saying Monday that "if the league is trying to mock me ... they should stop."
He was reacting to the NBA's new Player Participation Policy (PPP) that was passed last month. That is, once someone told him.
"What are they?" Leonard first answered when asked about his thoughts.
"Load management" became synonymous with Leonard's playing time beginning while he was still in Toronto after a knee injury.
"If the league is trying to mock what I did with the Raptors, they should stop because I was injured during that whole year," Leonard told reporters Monday. "But other than that, if I'm able to play, I'll play basketball.
"I'm not a guy that's sitting down for load management. ... I work out every day in the summertime to play the game, not to sit out and watch others play," Leonard said. "No league policy is helping me to play more games."
The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the PPP, a policy preventing teams from resting more than one "star" player in a game and setting forth punishments for violating the measure.
A star is defined as someone who made an All-Star team or All-NBA team in the past three seasons. The PPP replaces the Player Resting Policy and will be implemented for the 2023-24 season.
The new policy also dictates that teams ensure the availability of star players for nationally televised games and for the in-season tournament, which will make its debut in 2023-24. Teams must balance games missed on the road vs. home, with the preference leaning toward more home games missed.
The Clippers got 52 games out of Leonard and 56 from fellow All-Star Paul George during the 2022-23 regular season. George missed the final nine games of the season and the full playoff series against Phoenix. Leonard was absent for the final three games of the series after tearing the meniscus in his right knee.
Leonard, who missed all of the 2021-22 season after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a torn right ACL, has not played more than 57 games in a season since coming to Los Angeles in 2019.
George's 56 games last season were a personal best in his four years with the team.
"If I'm hurt, I can't play basketball," Leonard said. "These last two years ... I tore my ACL, I tore my meniscus. ... I either guard the best player, or the best player is guarding me."
--Field Level Media