NBA Rumors: Clippers' Plan for Kawhi Leonard Rest and Blake Griffin's Return

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 3: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers handles the ball against the Utah Jazz on November 3, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Elise/Getty Images

Three weeks into the 2019-20 season, the NBA's biggest stories are heavily focused on injuries to star players.

As the "load management" debate involving Kawhi Leonard rages on, Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is about to miss extended time. Nothing can be viewed as a consolation to that disappointing news, but one All-Star is set to return from injury.

While basketball fans can expect updates on Hayward's absence soon, the latest rumors are focused on Kawhi and Blake Griffin.

          

No Strict Plan for Kawhi

So far this season, the Clippers have decided to rest Kawhi on the front end of two back-to-backs. He missed the Oct. 30 loss to the Utah Jazz and Nov. 6 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Considering his injury history, limiting the stress on Leonard's body is wise. Last season, the Toronto Raptors strategically avoided playing him two nights in a row. The end result was someone prepared to play 39.1 minutes per game in the playoffs.

So, are the Clippers following the same strategy?

Kawhi and Paul George (injury) watched from the sideline in a recent Clippers loss.
Kawhi and Paul George (injury) watched from the sideline in a recent Clippers loss.Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

"There is no definitive plan to have Leonard avoid playing in any back-to-backs," sources told Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic. They noted the Clippers have a total of 13 such situations this season, and the report continued:

"The remainder of his rest schedule will be handled a few weeks out at a time ... and on a to-be-determined basis."

Perhaps the leak is simply a tactic to avoid another fine. And we certainly wouldn't blame the Clippers for that.

In all likelihood, Leonard will continue sitting out with regularity. Although the NBA wants its superstars to play every nightand many will do exactly thatsome players need rest. Leonard certainly appears to fit the latter category.

Before the month ends, the Clippers have two back-to-backs. The smart money is on Kawhi not playing in both games either time.

           

Griffin Ready for Season Debut

The Pistons mustered a 4-6 record in their first 10 games while playing without their star forward. Fortunately for Detroit, Griffin's absence is about to end.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the 30-year-old is expected to make his season debut Monday when the ailing Pistons host the 5-3 Minnesota Timberwolves. Griffin had been recovering from knee and hamstring injuries.

The timing is welcomed, for sure.

Derrick Rose has continued his resurgence with averages of 20.8 points and 6.3 assists, but he's missed four straight games because of a hamstring injury. Reggie Jackson (back) will remain sidelined for at least a couple more weeks.

That's a whole lot of production unavailable from Detroit's point guards. However, Griffin is uniquely able to help atone for it; he's dished 5.6 assists per game as a member of the Pistons.

Most of all, though, Griffin is about to solidify the frontcourt. Markieff Morris can shift into a reserve role, and Detroit won't need to rely on both Christian Wood and Thon Maker.

Griffin will rejoin Andre Drummond, who's carried the Pistons while posting career-high averages of 21.2 points and 18 rebounds.

         

Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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