The Dallas Mavericks are concerned about the health and well-being of their players. That’s why they take the matter of load management seriously. Mark Cuban recently reiterated his team’s stance on the matter. The Mavericks’ owner explained the benefits of load management to reporters earlier this week in Boston, where his team lost to the Celtics, 116-106, on Monday night.
“The problem isn’t load management, per se,” Cuban said, as reported by ESPN. “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.”
Cuban’s comments shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that follows the team. Last week, head coach Rick Carlisle spoke about load management being part of the philosophy of the organization in terms of how it approaches the rest players receive in relation to their health, workload, and recovery.
“Well, it’s not necessarily what my philosophy is, it’s what our organization’s philosophy is,” Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlisle said. “We monitor it very closely with all of our players. These guys now wear GPS things during practice that track all that information. To my knowledge, they’re not wearing them in games yet, but at some point that will happen. It’s important information. The professional athlete has got to be trained in a certain way. We look at it very closely.”
Former All-Star Kristaps Porzingis recently sat during the second night of a back-to-back when the Mavericks traveled to Memphis to play the Grizzlies. Prior to the the team’s travel, Carlisle didn’t get into whether Porzingis would play or not but told to reporters that his health is something that they are closely monitoring. It’s likely that he will miss several more nights of back-to-back action this season.
Load management is one of the buzzier topics of discussion around the NBA right now. New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale sparked the recent iteration of the debate when he played rookie R.J. Barrett for almost 41 minutes in a blowout loss against the Sacramento Kings. When questioned about it after the game, Fizdale said that, “We got to get off this load-management crap.”
When it comes to players sitting, the most prominent example is that of Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers. He’s already missed several games this season and really spotlighted the practice with the Toronto Raptors last season. Leonard appeared in only 60 regular season games as he managed his recovery from a quad injury. Despite a great deal of scrutiny, in the end, the result of his load management speaks for itself. He helped the team win its first ever championship.
The NBA itself is doing its part to curb teams’ practice of load management. In what is widely seen as an effort to appease fans, sponsors, television networks, and its gambling partner, MGM Resorts, the league fines organizations $100,000 for resting otherwise healthy players during marquee matchups. It’s unknown just how well this strategy is working.
Undeterred by the criticism and the league’s financial threats, the Mavericks understand the importance of load management because they believe in the science behind it. They know that the health of their players directly correlates to the health of the team and the organization. They have the numbers to prove it.
“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.”