The NBA announced Thursday that it has fined the team for statements, including one made by Rivers, that were "inconsistent" with Leonard's health status.
Leonard sat out Wednesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the first game of back-to-back contests for the Clippers. The NBA had announced earlier in the day that Los Angeles was justified in sitting the superstar in relation to him managing a tendon issue in his left knee.
“Following additional review of the L.A. Clippers not playing Kawhi Leonard in last night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA has confirmed that the team’s decision to sit Leonard for management of an injury was consistent with league rules," a league statement said Thursday. "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."
However, Rivers told reporters Wednesday that Leonard felt "great," apparently contradicting load management protocol.
"He feels great," Rivers said, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. "But he feels great because of what we've been doing. We're just going to continue to do it. There's no concern here. But we want to make sure. I think Kawhi made a statement that he's never felt better. It's our job to make sure he stays that way."
The NBA has cracked down on teams in the past for sitting star players in nationally televised contests. The most notorious example came in 2012 when the San Antonio Spurs were fined $250,000 for resting Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Danny Green in a TNT game against the Miami Heat.
Leonard, however, presents a unique situation. His former team, the Toronto Raptors, essentially revolutionized load management last season by sitting him in 22 regular-season games as he was coming off a severe quad injury that cost him most of the previous campaign. Leonard went on to lead Toronto to the NBA championship, averaging 30.5 points in 24 playoff games and winning the Finals MVP award.