NBA

Opinion: Jazz Fans Shouldn’t Care That Kawhi Won’t Play

Oct 30, 2019, 9:07 PM
Kawhi Leonard...
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Los Angeles Clippers runs upcourt during the first half of a game against the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center on October 28, 2019 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The announcement that NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard wasn’t going to play against the Utah Jazz was met with complaints on social media.  

Some wondered how one of the games best players needed to sit out the 5th game of the NBA season due to load management. Others cried that fans should get their money back since they paid to see Kahwi’s Clippers and not Montrezl Harrell’s Clippers.  

Those are fair arguments. I should probably buy into them.  

But I don’t. I have bigger thoughts on my mind.

Readers shouldn’t misunderstand me. I would love to see the best two-way player in the NBA take on the Jazz. This was one of the nationally televised games I said was a must-see on a previous Jazz Notes podcast. This is the team that I thought would make it to the NBA Finals from the Western Conference because of Leonard and Paul George. I want to see these guys play and I want to see them play at Vivint Smart Home Arena!

But not right now. I can wait, even though patience is not one of my virtues.  

I’m looking to the future; to April…and possibly May.

The Jazz play the Clippers on April 7th in Salt Lake. Leonard and George will hopefully be a full-strength and will have two days of rest before the game. Sure, the Clips have a game the next night in Los Angeles against the Bulls, but it’s the Bulls. If either guy was going to take a night off late in the season, it would be against Chicago.  

On top of that, Utah could be fighting with the Jazz for playoff seeding close to the end of the regular season. Mike Conley will hopefully be shooting a lot better than he is right now and the Jazz should be more cohesive and explosive. Doesn’t that game sound a lot more appealing than the 5th game of the season without George?

And what about these two teams clashing in the playoffs? What if it was a Western Conference Finals title tilt? That series sounds tantalizing. Hopefully, Utah can avoid seeing Houston in an earlier round. There is just something about the Rockets taking down the Jazz but, I digress.  

I would gladly watch Kawhi sitting in street clothes in October if it means a better Clippers team in April and May. If I’m the Jazz, I would gladly accept Leonard taking the night off so that they can still work on coming together without a defensive freak fly all over the floor. This Los Angeles team will still give Utah fits with Harrell and Lou Williams running the pick and roll and Patrick Beverly hounding Conley or Donovan Mitchell all over the floor.

I understand that every Jazz fan is excited right now because its the start of the season and they want to see their team take on the best. It’s frustrating and it almost looks like Leonard is dodging the best defensive team in the NBA so that he can take on his former employer, San Antonio, tomorrow night.  

In reality, all of us knew that Leonard could take just about any game off this season after missing over 20 games last season due to rest. You just didn’t want to see him do it against your team. But Jazz fans should let that vitriol stew in them for over 5 months and bring it the Viv on that April night.  

That’s the big game. That’s the game Jazz fans really want to see.  

So settle down and enjoy tonight’s Kawhi-less game. He’ll be back to boo next spring.

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