It should be no surprise to anyone given what Kawhi Leonard went through last season, but both Russell Westbrook and James Harden will apparently be under load management next year with the Houston Rockets.
Load management will forever be in our lexicon thanks to Leonard. Because of this fancy term for “rest” the Toronto Raptors were able to mitigate his nagging injury issues, ones that showed Leonard still looking a bit gimpy through the 2019 NBA Finals. Leonard had been dealing with issues ever since Zaza Pachulia slid under him in the 2017 NBA playoffs.
Westbrook and Harden are both on wrong side of 30, and as the two main stars they will be expected to carry the load for the Rockets. But they will also need to make sure they can get all the way to the finish line, with the NBA Finals in June and being the end goal.
With that being said, Houston general manager Daryl Morey told Dan Patrick this week that both players will have a load management system in place to make sure they can go the distance.
This makes sense in a modern NBA where some teams are expected to have the amount of talent necessary to be able to win games without having to play all of its Stars.
The real question is whether Houston is actually that kind of team. Westbrook and Harden are great, but we don’t know how they will mesh together some years on from their time in Oklahoma City. Clint Capela had an… interesting year last season, and the Rockets aren’t as strong as they once were.
What this probably means is that Houston will try to win as many games as they can up front, then find a way throughout the spring to manage the load of both of its stars so they are healthy over the last few months of the year.