NBA Sends Memo Declaring Load Management Is Not a Description for Injury

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Marco Garcia/Associated Press

The NBA is making it clear that load management is not going to work as an official injury designation. 

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today shared in a Twitter thread key parts from a memo sent by NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell to NBA teams on the topic. The memo said “load management is not an injury or an appropriate description of an injury under the Injury Reporting Procedures.”

Zillgitt provided additional context and suggested this clarification was driven by the status of Kawhi Leonard in his first season with the Los Angeles Clippers:

Jeff Zillgitt @JeffZillgitt

In essence, league doesn’t want Clippers using ‘load management’ as a reason for sitting Kawhi Leonard in games since Clippers have determined and told NBA that Leonard is suffering from an ongoing injury to the patella tendon in his left knee. 3/3

Leonard has played in seven of the Clippers’ nine games this season but is yet to appear in games on consecutive days. He did not appear in both games of a back-to-back a single time last season as a member of the Toronto Raptors either and hasn’t done so since the 2016-17 campaign when he was on the San Antonio Spurs.

On Thursday, Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported, “There is no definitive plan to have Leonard avoid playing in any back-to-backs, of which the Clippers have 13 total this season.”

Instead, Los Angeles will make those decisions “on a to-be-determined basis.”

The topic became a talking point in the league after Leonard missed nationally televised games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz because of load management, although Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times reported the league approved his sitting out because he is still working his way back from injury.

Despite that decision, the league announced it “fined the Clippers $50,000 for statements, including by head coach Doc Rivers, that were inconsistent with Leonard’s health status.”

The fine came after head coach Doc Rivers said, “He feels great,” per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. “But he feels great because of what we’ve been doing. We’re just going to continue to do it. There’s no concern here. But we want to make sure. I think Kawhi made a statement that he’s never felt better. It’s our job to make sure he stays that way.”

This memo sent by the league should at least provide some clarity on how to word injury statuses versus rest for the remainder of the season.

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