Doc Rivers Denies Rumor Kawhi Leonard Gets Preferential Treatment from Clippers

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, speaks with head coach Doc Rivers after being taken out of the game during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. The Clippers won 134-109. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on Friday shot down the notion that Kawhi Leonard gets preferential treatment.

According to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times, Rivers said: "Nothing more than anyone else gets. They all get special treatment. ... I would say all 15 of my players get preferential treatment at some point and they're going to continue to get that."

The question was in reference to a report by Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic. They wrote that some of the team's players "have struggled with the organization's preferential treatment" of Leonard and Paul George.

Buha and Amick added that Leonard can keep a "tangible distance" from teammates, which has caused some to question his leadership. Some players reportedly believe the Clippers should be practicing harder and more seriously than they do.

Much like the Toronto Raptors did last season en route to winning their first championship in franchise history, the Clippers have played it safe with Leonard by resting him at times, especially so he doesn't play games on back-to-back nights.

That has seemingly kept Kawhi fresh and allowed him to thrive when he plays, as he is averaging 27.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.0 steals in 35 games.

Leonard was especially good Friday, as he posted his first career triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a come-from-behind win over the Miami Heat. Kawhi is also in the midst of a seven-game streak with 30 or more points.

At 32-14, the Clippers are 4.5 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for first place in the Western Conference. They stand third, just percentage points behind the Utah Jazz for second.

There could be some danger in playing it safe since resting Leonard too much could lead the Clippers to drop in the standings and face the Lakers in the playoffs before the Western Conference Finals, but if they can stay in the top three, it is difficult to envision anything other than a Clippers-Lakers conference finals, which would mark a massive step forward for the Clips.


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