NBA fines Clippers for statements on Kawhi Leonard’s health status - Canadanewsmedia
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NBA fines Clippers for statements on Kawhi Leonard’s health status

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The NBA has fined the Los Angeles Clippers $50,000 for statements, including those made by head coach Doc Rivers, that were inconsistent with Kawhi Leonard‘s health status, the league announced on Thursday.

When discussing the decision to rest Leonard prior to last night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Rivers said that “he (Leonard) feels great. 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…”

These comments, not the act of resting Leonard itself, were what the league deemed deserving of a fine.

In announcing the fine, the NBA reaffirmed that the team’s decision to sit Leonard for load management was consistent with league rules.

Following additional review of the LA 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. 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.

Load management, the decision to rest players from games in an effort to preserve their health that was made famous by the Toronto Raptors last season, has been contentious and the discourse over it was reignited with Leonard sitting out last night’s nationally televised game against the Bucks.

Leonard, who missed all but nine games of the 2017-18 season as a member of the San Antonio Spurs while dealing with quadriceps tendinopathy, a chronic issue, has frequently been at the centre of the resting players debate.

Supporters of the strategy regularly point to the bevy of evidence that suggests resting players facilitates recovery, contributing to improved on-court performance and long-term health. Detractors often highlight the impact that resting star players has on the NBA’s ability to guarantee putting a top-quality product in front of fans on a nightly basis.

The Clippers lost last night’s game against the Bucks, 129-124. In six appearances with the Clippers this season, Leonard has averaged 29.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists.

Los Angeles’ next game is tonight against the Portland Trailblazers.

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VanVleet, Raptors beat Magic to remain unbeaten at home

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TORONTO — Fred VanVleet provided the steady hand. The trio of Terence Davis, Chris Boucher and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson combined for a massive boost of energy.

VanVleet, who started at point guard for the sixth consecutive night in place of an injured Kyle Lowry, scored 24 points to lead the Raptors past the Orlando Magic 113-97 on Wednesday in a battle between short-handed teams.

“His finishing, his layup package is insane,” teammate Pascal Siakam said of the guard known as Steady Freddy. “He’s fast, crafty. He always knows how to kind of use his body. So it’s definitely impressive what he’s been able to do. He’s just playing at a very high level right now.”

The Raptors (10-4) improved to 6-0 on the season at Scotiabank Arena, while Orlando (6-8) remains winless in five road games.

It was a second consecutive career night for Toronto’s undrafted rookie Davis, who finished with 19 points to top his previous career-high 16 points he scored — in less than four minutes — on Monday.

“It’s two games in a row the guy’s checked in (and) just started nailing threes, just right off the bench, and gave our offence a big boost, and they’ve been momentum changes I think in both games,” coach Nick Nurse said.

Siakam finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors, who were missing both Lowry and Serge Ibaka for the sixth straight game. Norm Powell chipped in with 15 points, and Boucher grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds to go with 14 points.

Evan Fournier had 21 points for the Magic, who lost both all-star centre Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon in the first half to right ankle sprains.

The Raptors’ 10th win of the season wasn’t pretty. Two nights after dishing out a franchise-record 40 assists, the Raptors had just 26 on Wednesday. But they shot 52.3 per cent on the night to Orlando’s 38.5, and clobbered the Magic 68-40 in the paint.

Concerns around the Raptors’ depth was a storyline of the early season before injuries forced Nurse to look to the likes of Davis, Boucher and Hollis-Jefferson. And their pure hustle — once again — played a huge role in Toronto’s win.

“We’re just some hard-playing guys, just bringing energy,” Davis said. “On the bench today Chris . . . just pointed up, like when we get in we’ve got to pick the energy up. It’s just about energy and then the game just takes care of itself. We’ve been playing together for a few games now and it’s really just bringing energy and taking what the defence gives up.”

Trailing for almost all of the first quarter, they managed to put together double-digit advantages for much of the second and third, taking a 79-68 lead into the final frame at Scotiabank Arena.

The Raptors built their lead to 15 points early in the fourth but back-to-back three-pointers by former Raptor Terrence Ross cut Toronto’s advantage to nine with nine minutes to play. Toronto battled back and Siakam’s jump shot with 4:53 to play had the Raptors up by 19 points.

Toronto didn’t let up and Nurse emptied his bench over the final few minutes.

The Raptors were missing Lowry and Ibaka for the sixth straight game. Nurse hopes to have Ibaka (sprained ankle) back on Saturday, when the team travels to Atlanta. Nurse said he had no update on Lowry, who fractured his left thumb.

OG Anunoby started the game wearing protective goggles, but ditched them during Toronto’s first timeout.

Anunoby missed the better part of two games when he was swatted in the eye by former teammate Kawhi Leonard, suffering an eye contusion. Then on Monday, he took an elbow to the eye from Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum cutting short what was already a career night.

Orlando was the team really feeling the injury bug Wednesday. Vucevic left the game after rolling his ankle coming down from a block attempt with 5:29 to play in the second quarter. Vucevic, who was helped off the court and to the locker-room, had six rebounds, five assists and three points. Gordon was helped off the court about three minutes earlier after attempting to stop an Anunoby dunk.

Their injuries allowed Canadian Khem Birch some rare playing time. The Montreal native hadn’t played in the previous four games in favour of rookie Mo Bamba. Birch finished with 12 points and four boards in 21 minutes.

The Raptors trailed for almost all of the first quarter. A three-point play by Isaac had Orlando up by eight points but Toronto outscored Orlando 18-10 to close the quarter, sending the game into the second tied at 32-32.

The Raptors rode their momentum into the second quarter and Siakam’s three-pointer capped a 21-9 Raptors run that had the home team up by 12. D.J. Augustin, who hit the winning three-pointer in Orlando’s Game 1 victory over Toronto in last season’s playoffs, drained a three at the buzzer, slicing the Raptors’ lead to 61-54 heading into halftime.

The Raptors beat Orlando, their first-round opponent from last season’s playoffs, on Oct. 28.

Wednesday’s game was part of a stretch of seven of www.sportsnet.ca/. The Raptors are in Atlanta on Saturday then return home to host the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2019.

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Bobby Ryan enters NHL/NHLPA player assistance program

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MONTREAL — Bobby Ryan will be away from the Ottawa Senators indefinitely while seeking help.

The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association announced Wednesday morning the veteran forward will be away from the team “while taking part in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.”

“There will be no further comment at this time,” the league and the union said in a joint release sent out today, as the Senators prepare to take on the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night at the Bell Centre.

A popular player in the club’s dressing room and in the community, people wish nothing but the best for Ryan.

First, and foremost, our thoughts are with Ryan and his wife Danielle and his daughter Riley Ann. This isn’t about Bobby Ryan the hockey player, it’s about the person and he’s always a professional. Anybody who has ever spoken with him or he’s been around Ryan for any length of time will tell you he’s kind, gentle, engaging and has a warm personality.

There aren’t many in the league who can lighten up the room with the sense of humour that Ryan has most days. He’s smart and has a way of putting things into perspective with honest commentary while speaking to the media. Many just hope he’s getting the help he needs because Ryan is the kind of person you want to cheer for on a daily basis.

Ryan left the club’s skate in Detroit Monday afternoon and coach D.J. Smith told reporters he wasn’t feeling well. He didn’t suit up against the Wings and there’s no timetable for his return.

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion released a statement on Wednesday following the announcement and offered full support to Ryan during this tough time.

“Bobby is an important member of the Ottawa Senators family and he has our full support as he tends to this matter,” Dorion said.

This has been a difficult season for the 32-year-old Ryan. The club’s highest paid player at $7.25 million per-season, Ryan has been scratched in five of Ottawa’s 21 games this season and his role has slipped under Smith.

He has only one goal and three points in the 16 games he has suited up and on most nights his role has been limited.

A popular player in the club’s dressing room and in the community, people wish nothing but the best for Ryan.

Acquired by the Senators on July 5, 2013, from the Anaheim Ducks just hours after the club lost captain Daniel Alfredsson as a unrestricted free agent, Ryan is in his seventh season with the Ottawa Senators and has two years left on his contract.

Ryan has had to overcome a lot of odds to make to the NHL.

The story of his upbringing has been well documented. Drafted by the Ducks No. 2 overall in 2005, Bobby Ryan was born with the name Shane Stevenson. In 1997, the family left its Cherry Hill, N.J., home after his father Shane Ryan skipped out bail and moved to El Segundo, Calif.

Ryan and his late mother Melody followed. The family started a new life with a new identity until Shane Ryan was arrested in 2000. After arriving in Ottawa, Ryan told reporters he no longer wished to discuss the circumstances of what his family had been through because the story had been told several times.

After losing Melody to cancer in July, 2016, Ryan wrote a heartfelt letter to his mother in The Players’ Tribune. He wrote about the time they used to spend together just talking at the California pizza kitchen while sharing a caesar salad and a pizza on a weekly basis.

“I was 12 when dad got caught and had to go away,” Ryan wrote. “Before that, he was very much the head of the family. Everything kind of revolved around him. But after he was gone suddenly, you had to take on more than you probably ever thought you would_ more than any parent should have to. You didn’t panic, though. You always seemed to be in control, even though you might not have felt like you were. And you did such an amazing job. Just, such an amazing job.”

The player assistance program was started in 1996 jointly by the league and the union and is funded by both parties. It’s a confidential program that provides players and their families with assistance with mental health, substance abuse and other matters.

Since the program is confidential, the only time an announcement is made by the NHL and the NHLPA is if a player has to take a leave of absence from the team. That’s why the news about Ryan became public and all matters surrounding the decision are being kept private while he gets the help that he needs.

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Most Disappointing Player in NHL this season

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are in crisis after losing 5-games straight.

Disappointing wouldn’t even begin describing how the Toronto Maple Leafs season is going so far. Whereas starting the season it was suggested Mike Babcock needed to win at least one playoff series this season to keep his job, it’s now a question whether Toronto will even qualify for the playoffs and finish the season with Babcock behind the bench.

For the injury-plagued Toronto Maple Leafs to miss the playoffs this season, would be nothing short of a disaster. It would lay waste to the additional (rental) pieces of the Leafs Blueprint, carefully put together by Dubas in Jake Muzzin, Tyson Barrie, and Cody Ceci.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will play 10 of the next 12 games on the road, with Marner, Kerfoot, and Moore out due to injuries, it will be challenging not to fall behind on the divisional rivals for a playoff spot.

While the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t exactly lucky when it comes to their schedule and injuries this season, both aren’t the factors to blame for the poor results.

So, who to blame?

Pressure on Mike Babcock has been since last playoff elimination, with the current results pressures is at an all-time high and speculation on whether he is (still) the right coach for this team is ever there.

It’s unreasonable, however, to put all the blame on Babcock. The players have their share in the results, they’re on the ice playing and performing badly, not always due to Babcock.

That’s why for this weeks roundtable, the staff writers of Editor In Leaf gathered to discuss this weeks roundtable question; “Who has been the most disappointing this season?”

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