Derek Bodner: Joel Embiid, asked whether his limited mi…

Derek Bodner: Joel Embiid, asked whether his limited minutes due to foul trouble might help keep him fresh for tomorrow night’s game against the Heat: “Load management. That’s some BS…I’m tired of sitting. I just want to play.”

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Rose: "It was just a different time in the sports world, period. Now we have the term “load management.” I don’t think that I would’ve taken it as far as Kawhi, as far as like they’re really being cautious about his injury or whatever he has. But if load management would’ve been around, who knows? I probably would’ve still been a Chicago Bull by now. But it wasn’t around."
When he played 40 minutes and 44 seconds in a 21-point loss to Sacramento earlier this month, David Fizdale bristled at a question about the possible strain on Barrett. Where some saw overzealousness from the head coach in bringing the rookie back into the game in the fourth quarter with nine minutes remaining — and 34 minutes of wear already on Barrett — Fizdale saw no reason to question him. “He’s got the day off tomorrow,” Fizdale said in a pique. “We gotta get off this load management crap. Latrell Sprewell averaged 42 minutes for a season. This kid’s 19 years old. Drop it.”
Now, it’s cutting out some shootarounds entirely. Through Donovan’s first three seasons in Oklahoma City, the Thunder coach had a borderline religious devotion to the gameday morning ritual that’s slowly dying around the NBA. Call it the Thunder’s way of “load management.” “I think when people immediately go to the stat sheet and say, ‘Oh my God, that guy played 38 minutes tonight,’ … I think everybody looks at the minutes played per game and they think, ‘Oh, load management,’” Donovan said. “But they don’t understand all the other things that lead up to that, too.”
That changed against the Sixers on Friday. Paul played the entire fourth quarter and all five minutes of overtime. The Thunder were plus-11 in those minutes. Does Paul get those minutes if the Thunder has a shootaround that morning? The Thunder didn’t have a morning shootaround Friday and instead chose to have a walkthrough at the arena later a few hours before tipoff. Not having a shootaround is another way to manage the workload of players. “There’s also load management around practice, shootarounds, schedule, travel … that all plays a factor into it,” Donovan said.
Playoff-bound teams rest players at the risk of losing games or even home-court advantage... as do lowly ones like Memphis, which rested 20-year-old rookie Ja Morant for a weekend home loss. I've got an idea! Play fewer games! Oh, right, that would mean less revenue and lower salaries. That's one thing that unites owners and players: No one wants that.
Dane Moore: Russell Westbrook now officially ruled out of tonight’s matchup with the Timberwolves. Westbrook is resting the second night of the Rockets back-to-back. There will be a lot of Ben McLemore and Chris Clemons for Houston in Westbrook’s absence.
Cuban believes load management is a good way for teams to preserve their stars for the playoffs. He suggested that in the 1980s and ’90s the quality of basketball was hindered by fatigue, with the league’s top players near exhaustion when the postseason arrived. “Worse than missing a player in a game is missing him in the playoffs,” he said. “And if you go back to the days where guys played 42 minutes a game and there were 10 guys in the league playing 40-plus minutes, the quality of the game wasn’t nearly as good. We gave them a hard time about being worn out or saving themselves for the fourth quarter, and now all the data says you maintain their usage levels over the course of the season with rest, so you’re seeing guys playing 36 minutes, which is a lot.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich began the practice of load management several years ago, giving aging veterans Tim Duncan and Tony Parker nights off. Cuban said Popovich wasn’t exactly trying to be an innovator, it was gamesmanship. “Pop was doing it just to [mess] with people,” Cuban said. “Now it’s all data-driven. Let’s just do it to mess with the league and our meal ticket, the fans, and just do something just because it might be interesting. We spent so much money on not just analytics but biometrics to know how smart we could be.”
Mark Berman: Mike D’Antoni says Clint Capela out tonight and tomorrow night. Danuel House out tonight, 50-50 tomorrow. Says Russell Westbrook will probably be out tomorrow for load management. Says Ben McLemore in the starting lineup tonight. pic.twitter.com/eez9WdBdBG
Micah Adams: Clippers are 0-3 in games without Kawhi. Raptors went 17-5. I’m not saying it’s significant. But it’s not insignificant.
However, maintains Fergus Connolly, a sports science expert and author of “Game Changer: The Art of Sports Science,” using load to assess injury risk has challenges. “The first challenge is that it’s hard to accurately define load,” Connolly says. “Is it a number defined by the previous game, or is it the chronic level for a season?” Connolly adds that it’s impossible to assess load by one simple number, formula or metric. The calculus of load is not only different for each player but also is a moving target that varies by time of season, age and even by opponent. Kawhi Leonard’s load tolerance today is surely different than it was five years ago, in ways that are difficult to understand. “It’s like painting by numbers when you don’t have all of the numbers,” says Connolly, who has served as a performance director in the NFL, “And trying to fill in those gaps with incomplete data.”
Says Tim DiFrancesco, former head strength and conditioning coach for the Lakers: “Even if we can come up with a number that measures on-the-court load or stress, we don’t know what might be contributing to load off the court — lifestyle stressors like travel, sleep or family problems.” When looking at injuries, in any sport, there’s the idea that a range of injury exists, from “not preventable” at one end, to “preventable” at the other end. Some injuries — Aron Baynes falling on Stephen Curry’s hand, for instance – are difficult to foresee and impossible to prevent. Those injuries have little to do with load and a lot to do with luck.
Without that constructive stress, muscles, tendons and ligaments might not be ready to take the demands of running, jumping and cutting for 82 games. Players coming off the bench, thrust into a starting role, might actually be at greater risk of injury than starters, at least if they haven’t been regularly hitting high intensities in practice. “For me, load management is more about what a player does to prep for the load of the season,” emphasizes DiFrancesco, “and sitting on the couch and resting might actually leave a player less prepared to handle load. Because of that, it’s likely, when a player sits out a game, he might have instead done a focused workout that day.”
Ben Fischer: WarnerMedia Chair Jeff Zucker on NBA ratings weakness this season: “I think the combination of injuries and sitting out has been an issue, and I think that’s concern, and hopefully that will get addressed over time.... "I think the league has some influence over teams and i would like them to exert that influence." WarnerMedia Chair Jeff Zucker on load management in the NBA. #SBJSMT
Tim MacMahon: Doc Rivers says he expects Paul George to make his Clippers debut tomorrow in New Orleans. Will Kawhi Leonard play on the second night of a back-to-back? “I don’t know yet,” Rivers said. “That was a good question. Nice try.”
Amid the ongoing debate about resting players in the NBA, count Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban among those openly willing to support load management. "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."
"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 said that while it might be frustrating to see players on the bench now, it all pays off in the postseason. "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?"
Tom Moore: Brett Brown says Al Horford resting tonight has been in the works for a while. Sounds like Joel Embiid could sit Wednesday in Orlando with Horford starting. #Sixers
Storyline: Load Management
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February 1, 2023 | 10:34 am EST Update

Sixers looking for a big?

With Montrezl Harrell’s defensive issues and Paul Reed not yet earning the trust of the coaching staff, sources say the Sixers would be open to bringing in another big even if they don’t move one of Embiid’s current backups.  It’s the easy place for your mind to drift, but former Sixers big Andre Drummond is an example, if a high-end example, of the sort of player we could be talking about, a big-bodied player and strong rebounder in the more traditional school of bigs.  (Naz Reid is a hot player in the rumor mill around the league, though I think he skews more toward the Harrell style of bigs and wouldn’t expect him to be in the mix for Philly.)
The other big roster need, one I was slightly surprised to hear the Sixers are prioritizing, is at the backup five position. It has been a sore spot for the franchise in the Embiid era, and remains one again this season. Philadelphia already has three nominal bigs on the roster, including star center Embiid, but sources say they would be interested in acquiring a safer/more traditional backup to Embiid for certain matchups in the playoffs.
It’s no guarantee the Raptors decide to move on from Siakam that soon. From a team perspective, it would certainly be comforting to see both Siakam and Barnes, fairly similar players, thrive offensively at the same time. For his part, Siakam isn’t the type to get involved. “Out of my control. Focus on what I have every single day, work with what I have, help wherever I can,” Siakam said of the trade rumours surrounding his team, and whether he wants this version of the team to stay intact. “That’s it. Out of my hands. It’s out of my control, so I have nothing to say about it.”
Don’t expect the big swing at the NBA trade deadline that mortgages any of the future for the present. But if the growth of the Thunder’s young core and the parity of the conference keeps that playoff door ajar, they’ll gladly walk right through. “Coach challenged us at the beginning of January,” Muscala said. “He said, ‘Hey, this is when a lot of teams are in the quote-unquote ‘dog days’ of the season. There’s kind of a tendency to let down. Let’s really challenge ourselves to be in the moment, do the little things, take care of our bodies, do skill work. It’s shown this month.”
Jeremy Schaap: Our interview with @MeyersLeonard , the former Portland and Miami center who is hoping to return to the NBA. Nearly two years ago, he used an antisemitic slur while playing Call of Duty on Twitch. A warning–this story includes offensive language.

On Monday night against Golden State, Gilgeous-Alexander shook off an 0-of-5 start to finish with 31 points and seven assists. Twenty-one came in a rapid second-half comeback, when he beat Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and Donte DiVincenzo with a variety of patient isolation attacks, scoring over or passing around Green and Kevon Looney when they’d collapse. “He gets to his spot just as good as anybody in the league,” Green said. “He’s strong as s—. I didn’t realize how strong he’s gotten. Physical, not ducking no contact. Just getting to his spot and getting what he wants. Just delivers his shoulder, gets to his spot and he’s 6-foot-7.”