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A difference in opinion between NBA officials and coach Doc Rivers led the league to fine the Clippers $50,000 on Thursday for statements it believes are “inconsistent” with superstar forward Kawhi Leonard’s health status.
In a statement that accompanied Thursday’s fine, the league said the Clippers remain in compliance with league rules regarding sitting players because “the NBA has confirmed that the team’s decision to sit Leonard for management of an injury was consistent with league rules. 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.”
The fine, however, came because of “statements, including by head coach Doc Rivers, that were inconsistent with Leonard’s health status.”
Leonard has missed two games for load management of his left knee within the season’s first eight games, including Wednesday’s home loss to Milwaukee. Hours before the Clippers and Bucks tipped off, an NBA spokesman said the league’s medical team had agreed with the determination of the team’s medical staff that Leonard is not yet healthy enough to play games on consecutive nights.
However, hours later during his pregame remarks, Rivers said there was “no concern” about the forward’s health, a comment that appeared to undercut the league’s stance about the severity of Leonard’s injury.
“I think Kawhi made a statement that he’s never felt better,” Rivers said before Wednesday’s loss at Staples Center. “It’s our job to make sure he stays that way.
“… So, it’s not a health thing, really. It is in some ways. We want him to just keep feeling better and getting better.”