LOS ANGELES — The NBA fined the LA Clippers $50,000 for comments made by coach Doc Rivers that “were inconsistent” with Kawhi Leonard’s health.
Leonard sat out the first of a back-to-back set of games for the second time this season on Wednesday night when the Clippers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. The NBA made it clear that the Clippers were compliant with league rules in the team’s decision to sit the All-Star for load management of a knee injury.
But Rivers was asked several questions before the game about Leonard and his health. The coach told the media that Leonard “feels great,” that there is no reason to be concerned and that the team has to make sure Leonard stays feeling great. The NBA then fined the Clippers for statements, include those by Rivers, that were inconsistent with Leonard’s health while also detailing Leonard’s knee injury.
“Following additional review of the LA Clippers not playing Kawhi Leonard in last night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA has confirmed that the team’s decision to sit Leonard for management of an injury was consistent with league rules,” the league stated in a press release Thursday. “The team has reasonably determined that Leonard is suffering from an ongoing injury to the patella tendon in his left knee and has been placed by the team at this time on an injury protocol for back-to-back games.”
Leonard started Thursday night and had 18 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Clippers to a 107-101 win over the Trail Blazers in another nationally televised game.
Speaking before Thursday’s game, Rivers said he was “disappointed” with the fine.
“Sometimes you agree with fines, sometimes you don’t,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. That is the one thing I’ve learned.”
Leonard expressed support for Rivers.
“He’s my coach, and I’m on his side,” he said. “I’m not a doctor, but we’re going to do what’s best for me to be healthy so I can play basketball games. I can’t read too much into it.”