Doc Rivers on Kawhi Leonard's Health: 'We want to be smart about this'
LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers isn't going to take any chances with player health once the NBA season resumes later this month.
On a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon, Rivers said that while Kawhi Leonard is healthy right now, the team plans to be as cautious as possible with his (and others') health leading up to the beginning of the NBA Playoffs.
"Kawhi is healthy for the most part. That still doesn't mean that we don't want to maintain him and get him through the first eight games and get ready for the Playoffs. We want to be smart about this. Not just for Kawhi; it's with everybody."
Based on this alone, it seems safe to say that Leonard (and potentially other players) will have some sort of injury/load management procedure during the scrimmage and seeding games.
That's perfectly reasonable, too. Not every one of the three scrimmages or eight seeding games will be meaningful for teams, and there's no reason to risk a player's health in any of those games — especially since fans won't be able to be in attendance.
As far as when Leonard could miss a game or two, the LA Clippers will play the Brooklyn Nets on the second night of a back-to-back near the end of their seeding game schedule. Given the state of Brooklyn's roster at the moment and the fact that the Clippers could very well be locked into a playoff seed at that point, it almost seems like a guarantee that Leonard will miss that matchup.
That said, we shouldn't expect Leonard to be the only Clippers player to miss a few games as LA prepares to embark on a postseason run. Other meaningful players, like Paul George, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, could all be rested if the situation calls for it.
The end goal is to have a fully healthy roster for the Playoffs, and since that's only happened a handful of times for LA this season, it's difficult to question the strategy.
The Clippers will play their first scrimmage game against the Orlando Magic on July 22 and will kick off the NBA restart with a fourth and final meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers on July 30.