Amid the ongoing debate about resting players in the NBA, count Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban among those openly willing to support load management, calling it “the best thing to ever happen to the league.”
“The problem isn’t load management, per se,” Cuban told reporters in Boston on Monday. “I think teams have to be smarter about when to load manage. I’m all for load management. Worse than missing a player in a [regular-season] game is missing him in the playoffs.”
The load management topic has received the most scrutiny this season in the LA Clippers’ handling of Kawhi Leonard. The reigning NBA Finals MVP has been held out of two nationally televised games that were part of back-to-backs, though the NBA also revealed a patella tendon injury for Leonard in announcing that it had approved his absence from those contests.
Cuban, whose Mavericks rested Kristaps Porzingis on Saturday as part of his ongoing return from a February ACL tear, said teams are making sound decisions when to give their stars time off.
“It’s all data-driven,” Cuban said. “We’re not going, ‘OK, let’s just mess with the league and our meal ticket to fans to do something just because it might be interesting. We spend so much money, not just on analytics for predictive reasons, but also for biometrics so we know how smart we can be.
“The dumb thing would be to ignore the science.”
Cuban pointed out that the quality of play was lower when players were averaging more minutes per game and saving their energy for the fourth quarter.
Portland Trail Blazers guards CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard both said last month that they don’t want to have their playing time managed, with McCollum telling the Oregonian “you’ll Kawhi your way out of the playoffs” by doing so.
Cuban said that while it might be frustrating to see players on the bench now, it all pays off in the postseason.
LeBron James is among those on the other side of the argument. He said last week that he would not sit out a game unless he’s dealing with an injury. The Los Angeles Lakers play their first back-to-back game Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, following Tuesday’s win over the Phoenix Suns.
“You actually get more of your stars [in the playoffs],” Cuban said. “You get shorter rotations of more of the guys playing in the playoffs, which is what you want to see anyway, right?”