For the second time in a couple of weeks, the Clippers are going to rest Kawhi Leonard during a nationally televised marquee matchup.
The Clippers announced Tuesday that Leonard will not play Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks, a game being broadcast by ESPN. A game where the network thought it would get Leonard vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Leonard also was given a night off a week ago, against Utah, in another game ESPN broadcast (and the Jazz won).
Leonard will suit up Thursday night in another nationally broadcast game, this time on TNT against the Trail Blazers.
That the Clippers are giving Leonard half of a back-to-back off to keep his quad tendon/knee issues at bay is not a surprise to anyone. Los Angeles is going to have a lot of load management nights this season between Leonard and Paul George (once he returns from off-season shoulder surgeries). The timing is just interesting.
A couple of years ago, the league both expanded the length of the season — building in more rest days — and gave Commissioner Adam Silver broad powers to fine teams that did not follow the league’s guidelines on sitting players. The Clippers have been in compliance with the league’s rules, both times Leonard has rested this season it has been announced and everyone notified a day in advance. There have been no surprises.
Part of the spirit of the new rules — at the behest of the networks paying Brinks’ trucks full of money for broadcast rights — was to keep top players from being rested for national marquee games. It is a bad look to have players sitting out these high-visibility games, which happened a lot and with little notice a couple of seasons ago. The league wants its biggest stars on its biggest stages.
In this case, the league and the broadcast partners can blame themselves. The Clippers were scheduled into back-to-back nationally televised games, and it was always likely Leonard sat out at least one of them. ESPN came out on the short end on this one.