Last week, Ty Lue was asked about how he would manage Paul George’s minutes during this current stretch of five games in seven days. First Lue said he didn’t know, but then added, “Everybody has a plan until you get hit and then it goes out the window.”
The Clippers have been hit. Even while knowing they’d be without Kawhi Leonard for much of the season, the injury absences to Marcus Morris Sr. and Serge Ibaka lingered longer than anticipated, and now Nicolas Batum’s stint in the health and safety protocols has further compromised the team’s depth. So if the Clippers had plans to rest George — remember that he sat at least one night of every back-to-back during the last six weeks of the 2020-21 season — those went out the window.
But Lue and the Clippers still want to be smart about George’s workload, and with the 31-year-old averaging his most minutes in three years as a Clipper and by far the highest usage of his career, it is now time for George to get a break. The Clippers announced that George will be sitting tonight against Sacramento for scheduled rest, which will be George’s first missed game of the season.
Morris sat Monday for load management so he will be ready to go against the Kings, but Batum remains out. The Clippers will presumably start Amir Coffey in George’s place, and they also preemptively rested Brandon Boston Jr. during the Agua Caliente game earlier today so that he will be ready for minutes versus Sacramento. The Clippers could also turn to their two big lineup of Isaiah Hartenstein and Ibaka for more frontcourt depth.
Down the stretch of last season, the Clippers managed to schedule rest for all of their veterans, and even younger players like Ivica Zubac. They haven’t had that opportunity yet this year, as all missed games have been for injury management or personal reasons. George isn’t the only player who looks like he could use a break — Reggie Jackson could be next, and perhaps Eric Bledsoe as well. For now, George gets three days off until Friday against the Lakers, the longest gap he will have until the All-Star Break unless the Clippers get him more rest before then.