Rockets' James Harden Shoots Down Idea of Taking Games off for Load Management

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2019

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) handles the ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

Houston Rockets superstar guard James Harden said Friday he's not interested in becoming part of the load-management trend by taking games off to rest.

Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated provided comments on the hot-button topic from Harden, who said the only time he sits out is when there's a legitimate injury:

Although the idea of load management isn't new, it was brought back to the forefront Wednesday night when the Los Angeles Clippers opted to rest Kawhi Leonard for a nationally televised game on ESPN against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass initially released a statement to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski clearing the Clippers of any wrongdoing:

"Kawhi Leonard is not a healthy player under the league's resting policy, and, as such, is listed as managing a knee injury in the LA Clippers injury report. The league office, in consultation with the NBA's director of sports medicine is comfortable with the team medical staff's determination that Leonard is not sufficiently healthy to play in back-to-back games at this time."

The Clippers were fined $50,000 by the NBA on Thursday after the league determined comments made by head coach Doc Rivers were "inconsistent" with Leonard's injury designation.

Rivers had told reporters the reigning NBA Finals MVP "feels great."

Leonard commented on the fine and the media firestorm caused by his Wednesday absence after returning to the lineup Thursday to score 27 points in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

"It's just disappointing. It feels like they want players to play even if they're not ready," he said. "I don't read into it. I have to do what will make me healthy and help the team be successful. That's me being able to play basketball games for us."

Leonard was limited to 60 appearances for the Toronto Raptors last year during the regular season, but he remained healthy throughout the playoffs to help the franchise capture its first NBA championship.

Meanwhile, Harden hasn't missed more than 10 games in any of his 10 professional seasons, and he's appeared in all eight of the Rockets' contests so far during the current campaign.

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