J.B. Bickerstaff subtly claps back against NBA’s belief that load management doesn’t work as intended

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff doesn’t agree with the NBA’s sentiment that load management doesn’t work in terms of keeping players healthy.

“I think it’s a matter of how it’s being framed,” Bickerstaff said. “I’m not trying to, you know, get in a back and forth with the NBA, but it also is fact that fatigue can lead to injury. So I think that’s where it’s on us to figure out like, you know, how do we protect our guys? But also it is our responsibility to put our best foot forward for this league.”

Load management has become a hot topic in the NBA in recent seasons, especially with star players sitting out games.

For the NBA, it hurts the league’s product when the best players aren’t on the floor every night, but several teams want to keep their stars healthy so they can play come playoff time.

It’s a tricky situation to navigate, and it seems like Bickerstaff wants there to be some more consideration for keeping players fresh so they stay healthy for an entire 82-game regular season.

Cleveland didn’t rest players at a super high rate last season, as Jarrett Allen (68 games), Donovan Mitchell (68 games), Darius Garland (69 games) and Evan Mobley (79 games) all missed fewer than 15 contests in the 2022-23 campaign.

Garland, who dealt with an eye injury that cost him five games at the beginning of the 2022-23 season, likely would have played over 70 games had he not been injured.

The NBA can attempt to crack down on load management as much as it wants, but if players also get hurt, there isn’t much teams can do. It seems like this is a debate that could last for several seasons until there is a perfect mix found.

Eliminating back-to-back games could be one way to help avoid load management, as quick turnarounds sometimes lead to teams sitting out players in one of the two games of a back-to-back.

Bickerstaff and the Cavs have more things to worry about this season than load management, as the team is hoping to make a deep playoff run after earning the No. 4 seed in the East last season.

Cleveland was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in the 2022-23 season, and if that happens again, it has been reported that changes will happen for Cleveland.

To avoid that, Bickerstaff and the Cavs need to play their best basketball through the postseason in the 2023-24 campaign.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.