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Leonard Challenges NBA’s New Player Participation Policy

Published on October 3, 2023
Written by John
Leonard Challenges NBA's New Player Participation Policy
  • Kawhi Leonard has not played more than 60 games since the 2016-17 season.
  • Was on a load management schedule with the Raptors after coming off the injury.
  • Is signed with the Clippers through the 2024-25 season

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In a recent media day interaction, LA Clippers’ star Kawhi Leonard critiques the NBA’s player policy, emphasizing his commitment to playing when fit.

Kawhi Leonard Comments On New Player Participation Policy

Kawhi Leonard, the star player of the LA Clippers, expressed strong reservations about the NBA’s new player participation policy during the team’s media day on Monday. The policy, designed to ensure star players’ availability, has been linked with Leonard, known for his “load management.” However, Leonard firmly stated, “No league policy is helping me to play more games.”

Leonard’s comments come after an extended period of injuries that have plagued his career, with the most recent being a meniscus tear in his right knee during the Clippers’ playoff series against the Phoenix Suns in April. This is the second major injury to his right knee in three years; the first being a torn ACL during the team’s 2021 run to the Western Conference finals. As a result, Leonard sat out the 2021-22 season and hasn’t played more than 60 games in a single season since the 2016-17 campaign.

Addressing his sporadic availability, especially with the Toronto Raptors during the 2018-19 season, Leonard clarified, “I’m not a guy that’s sitting down because I’m doing load management. I was injured during that whole year. If I’m able to play, I’ll play basketball.”

Further, on the topic of the new participation policy, Clippers coach Ty Lue supported Leonard’s sentiment. “If our players are healthy, they’re going to play,” Lue declared. Highlighting the recent injuries that the team’s players have had to contend with, Lue reiterated the commitment of the players to the game.

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Leonard shed light on the unpredictable nature of injuries in basketball, pointing out incidents where unforeseen circumstances, like stepping on someone’s foot, led to injuries. “It’s basketball,” he commented, emphasizing his commitment as a two-way player. “I play both ends of the floor. If an injury comes, that’s what happens.”

In tandem with Leonard’s stance, Paul George, another star player for the Clippers, was vocal about his intention to play whenever health permits. “If healthy, absolutely, I’m suiting up, and I want to play every night,” George confirmed.

Despite the duo’s potential, injuries have limited Leonard and George’s time on the court together. In their four seasons with the Clippers, they’ve played just 38 games together last season. The combined tally of regular-season and postseason games they’ve participated in together stands at 142, with the team registering a 96-46 record during these games.

The new player participation policy by the NBA, which aims to ensure the availability of star players, remains a topic of debate among players and coaches alike.

Betting Implications

When Kawhi Leonard is on the court, he can make the Clippers one of the best teams in the Western Conference. There’s no better example than in the first round of the NBA Playoffs when he led Los Angeles to a Game 1 win against the Phoenix Suns. He suffered an injury in Game 2, and the Suns went on to beat the Clippers in that series 4-1. There are many great teams in this league, and several have upgraded their rosters to improve. That’s why, even with Leonard and George set to play at the start of the season, their +2000 odds on Caesars Sportsbook rank seventh best. If you believe this roster can remain healthy, you might consider that bet, but it has yet to happen.

Content Writer

John has had a prominent career in sports media that spans over a decade. He has lent his talents to high-profile companies such as ESPN, NBC Sports, and Audacy. He’s bringing his sports betting expertise, having analyzed every major sport, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and PGA, with a career success rate over 52%.

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