The league passed a new, so naturally Leonard was asked about his thoughts on it. The policy prevents teams from resting "star players" during certain situations, including national televised games or for a long stretch during the season.
Leonard has not played in more than 60 games in any season since 2016-17, when he was still on the San Antonio Spurs. He then missed the Spurs' last five playoff games in 2018 due to a sprained ankle, and his team was eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the first round.
The following season, Leonard helped the Toronto Raptors win the 2019 NBA championship, but his availability was inconsistent throughout the season -- which he clarified on Monday was due to injury.
"I'm not a guy that's sitting down because I'm doing load management," Leonard said. "When I was with the Raptors, it was different. I was coming off an injury, and you have to know the details from the doctor. But if the league is seeing or trying to mock what I did with the Raptors, they should stop because I was injured during that whole year.
"But other than that, if I'm able to play, I'll play basketball."
Kawhi Leonard fires back the load management claims:— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) October 2, 2023
“When I was with the Raptors, it was different. I was coming off an injury… If the NBA is trying to mock that, then they should stop. Other than that, if I’m able to play, I’ll play basketball.”
Leonard joined the Clippers in 2019, and right away thefor resting him during a national televised game and for "statements, including by head coach Doc Rivers, that were inconsistent with Leonard's health."
Injuries, however, have definitely affected Leonard's playing time. Leonard suffered an ACL injury during the 2021 playoffs, and he went on to miss the entire 2021-22 season. His postseason misfortunes continued when he tore the meniscus in his right knee during the Clippers' first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns in April.
"I'm not trying to get to a certain amount of games. I'm trying to play the games I can play," Leonard said. "... I'm a two-way player. I play hard, so injuries are going to come. I'm not out there just walking around. I play both ends of the floor. I see the best players on both ends every night. Either I'm guarding the best player or the best player is guarding me. If an injury comes, that's what happens."
Leonard wanted to let those who doubt him know that sitting out doesn't mean he's disinterested in the game. Fortunately for fans, he is fully cleared to participate in the Clippers' training camp.
"I work out every day in the summertime to play the game, not to sit and watch people play," Leonard said. "So no league policy is helping me to play more games."