The “load management” era in the NBA is most discussed in terms of superstar players like Kawhi Leonard sitting out games, but it extends far beyond star caliber players.
On Wednesday, second-year center Mo Bamba sat out of the Orlando Magic’s game against the Dallas Mavericks — the second game of a back-to-back — to manage his load. Bamba has averaged 13.2 minutes per game through six games this season, but the team is being cautious with the former No. 6 overall pick after he suffered a stress fracture in his lower left leg in February.
Orlando’s head coach Steve Clifford had no problem giving Bamba the night off, but he did say that resting players isn’t something he’s used to — especially after spending the five years in the Charlotte, where he answered to the team’s majority owner Michael Jordan, who is widely regarded as the toughest player to ever play in the NBA (via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News):
“Our guys aren’t used to sitting on the second game of a back-to-back.… We’re not sitting guys just to sit,” Clifford said. “For me, my background frankly, it all goes back to expectations. Being with Michael in Charlotte, Michael used to tell them every year, you’re paid to play 82 games.”
Jordan, like many former players, is no stranger to speaking out against the way things are in the NBA now. Just last month, Jordan went on record and said Stephen Curry — a three-time NBA champion, two-time MVP and arguably the greatest 3-point shooter of all time— wasn’t a Hall of Famer yet.
The difference with his stance on load management, though, is the fact Jordan, as the owner, has the power to enforce a strict “no load managing” rule with his Charlotte Hornets. That’s not to say that he will, but he could if he really wanted to and considering the amount of talent (or lack thereof) the Hornets have this season, it’s not hard to imagine him doing something like that.
Basically, don’t expect anyone on the Hornets to be given nights off to rest with nagging injuries if they can otherwise play. The big boss won’t be having it.