Ty Lue to Talk to Clippers' Medical Staff About Kawhi Leonard's Load Management

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard (2) gestures in the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Thursday, Sept 3, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Newly hired Los Angeles Clippers head coach Ty Lue said Wednesday that he will consult with the team's medical staff when it comes to determining how to handle Kawhi Leonard next season.

When asked if he plans to utilize "load management" with Kawhi, Lue said, "It's something I'll have to talk to the medical staff and performance team," per Mark Medina of USA Today.

After missing all but nine games in 2017-18 as a member of the San Antonio Spurs due to a quad injury, Leonard had his playing time closely monitored in 2018-19 with the Toronto Raptors and again last season as a member of the Clippers.

Load management is a strategy that has proven fruitful for Leonard, especially when he led the Raptors to a championship two seasons ago.

Kawhi played just 60 of the 82 regular-season games in 2018-19, but he still averaged 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, plus the Raptors ended up with the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, just two games behind the Milwaukee Bucks.

Leonard elevated his game to another level during the playoffs with 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game en route to winning the NBA Finals MVP award.

The load-management situation was different last season since the campaign was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, Leonard sat out 15 of the Clippers' 72 regular-season games and averaged just 32.4 minutes per game, his lowest average playing time in a full season since 2014-15.

Leonard averaged 27.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game during the regular season, but upped it to 28.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists per contest during the playoffs.

The Clippers were upset by the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs in seven games, but Kawhi's play was far from the culprit for their elimination.

Just like the Raptors in 2018-19, the Clippers secured the No. 2 seed in their conference last season even with Kawhi sitting out periodically.

The load-management method appears tried and true when it comes to Leonard, so it is difficult to envision Lue straying too far from it, although it sounds like the Clippers' medical staff will have a big hand in determining how often Leonard plays next season.