Clippers Veterans Didn't Like Kawhi Leonard's Load Management and Lack of Punctuality
Ty Lue is the new head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. The Athletic published a story about what that means for the Clippers and it included this tidbit about how annoyed the team's returning veterans were with the treatment of Kawhi Leonard, as well as Kawhi's treatment of them. Via The Athletic:
"Players like Beverley, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams — Clippers bedrocks before the arrival of Leonard and George — bristled when Leonard was permitted to take games off to manage his body and to live in San Diego, which often led to him being late for team flights, league sources said. The team also allowed Leonard to dictate to Rivers when he could be pulled from games, among other things."
There is just so much dysfunction packed into that one paragraph. It seems like after so many years in the league, these guys should know that stars get preferential treatment, but it sounds like Leonard went above and beyond. The part about always being late for flights because he lives in San Diego is wonderful on Kawhi's part. He seems like the kind of guy who wouldn't pay much attention to anyone else and this really drives that home.
As for his control of his own load management, this should have come as a shock to no one. In Kawhi's seven-season career before he got to LA, he had never played more than 74 games in a season. He'd only played more than 66 games twice. It's still not entirely clear what his health situation was when he sat almost all of the '17-'18 season before forcing his way out of San Antonio. If you're expecting Kawhi Leonard to show up and play basketball every day, buddy, I've got news for you.
It says a lot about the talent level of the Clippers that they won so many regular-season games and even a playoff series because the reports of bad chemistry probably only touch the surface. The only thing most of them were on the same page about was being annoyed by the behavior of their best player(s). This doesn't seem like a good sign for next season, which could be the last in LA for Kawhi and/or Paul George.
There is going to need to be quite a bit of healing in that locker room if they are going to bounce back from this. Or a lot of change because Kawhi is only getting older and more set in his ways. If this is the kind of rest and control he feels he needs to be an effective player you're going to need to put a team around him that understands and accepts that. Having a hobby to pass the time while they wait for Kawhi to show up for team flights is also a plus.