Leonard missed four games with a foot injury before returning to the lineup Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The wing posted 15 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes as the Clippers won 124-105.
Los Angeles knew the situation when it signed Leonard in 2019. He had missed 22 games in 2018-19 with the Toronto Raptors and explained to ESPN's Rachel Nichols how his load-management plan had helped him excel in the playoffs:
Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols
Here's Part 1 of my conversation with Kawhi Leonard, where we talked about the serious stuff: tonight's Game 4, how he thinks he wouldn't even be playing in these Finals without all that load management this season, and how free agency is just 23 days away. https://t.co/62mGqP8gYp
In November 2019, the NBA gave the green light for Los Angeles to rest the five-time All-Star provided it was part of the continued maintenance of the quad injury he suffered in 2017-18 with the San Antonio Spurs.
Though he has been out for 13 games so far this season, the Clippers haven't been as proactive when it comes to resting Leonard. He's on pace to set a career high with 34.4 minutes per game, and his absences have usually been tied to specific issues, such as the foot injury that most recently sidelined him.
When on the court, the 29-year-old has performed as expected. He's averaging 25.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 51.6 percent from the floor.
As long as he's ready to go for the playoffs, losing Leonard for a game or two isn't a major cause for concern for Los Angeles.