Teams across the NBA have shifted their power structure over the past few years to appear more player-centric and have erred on the side of caution to protect them from injuries, especially over the long-term.
Several executives point to the way Kawhi Leonard forcing a trade from the San Antonio Spurs in 2018 over a disagreement on how to handle his quad issue.
“Kawhi scared the living hell out of everyone,” one general manager told Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports. “If it can happen to the Spurs, it can happen to anybody.”
The Toronto Raptors and Leonard worked together on a rest strategy that resulted in a championship. The Los Angeles Clippers have taken a similar approach with Leonard this season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were recently fined $25,000 for resting D'Angelo Russell in the first night of a back-to-back. The Wolves subsequently released the following statement:
“We are a player-centric organization that's focused on learning and optimizing our players' bodies. As a new player in our program, we chose to rest D'Angelo in order to learn his body better and to optimize his health during a difficult stretch of games and travel.”