In 2019, the Los Angeles Clippers cooked up a piping hot batch of NBA controversy thanks to the strategy they deployed in the hopes of reducing the amount of wear and tear Kawhi Leonard had to deal with.
Leonard had previously relied on the approach known as “load management” prior to that season, but things came to a head when he sat on the bench during a game against the Bucks, which Doc Rivers acknowledged had nothing to do with an injury while admitting he’d simply opted to give him a day off.
However, the team’s decision to deprive fans of a showdown between the Clippers star and Giannis Antetokounmpo did not sit well with Adam Silver and others in the league office, as the franchise was ultimately hit with a $50,000 fine for allowing him to skip the contest.
Since then, load management has become a pretty hot topic of discussion. You could argue that if the players and the teams who pay their salaries are fine with reducing their workload, there’s really no issue, but that hasn’t been manifested in reality.
There is also no shortage of critics, as Michael Jordan made it clear the Hornets don’t endorse the approach, LeBron James has stated he believes the concept “doesn’t make any sense,” and Charles Barkley had some very harsh words for every player who decides to embrace it.
In 2020, the NBA attempted to address the issue by rolling out a new set of rules that gave teams some serious incentive to ensure their best players participate in high-profile games.
Now, it looks like the league may take some more steps as it looks to increase the crackdown on the supposed problem that has also landed the Warriors in hot water this season.
According to The Athletic, the NBA is exploring the possibility of setting a threshold that would require players to participate in an as-of-yet unspecified number of games in order to be eligible for awards like Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year
As things currently stand, it appears that proposal could make its way into the next iteration of the collective bargaining agreement (which is set to expire at the end of next season). Only time will tell if that will end up being the case, but it will certainly be worth keeping an eye on.