The fans might be super pissed about load management ... but Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas says Kawhi Leonard taking days off has been PERFECT for the NBA superstar.
It's been one of the biggest debates of the season -- with the Klaw electing to sit out several big-time matchups to nurse a nagging knee injury, despite looking pretty much 100% when he DOES take the court.
TMZ Sports spoke with the Pistons legend about the issue ... and he totally understands why Kawhi wants to take a break to make sure he stays healthy, even if fans get upset.
"I do understand it, and you have to say it's been extremely successful for Kawhi," IT said outside Capitale in NYC ... pointing out Leonard has done this for most of his career.
"So for Kawhi, it's been perfect for him and it has worked out well for him."
But, of course, the big issue is Kawhi is one of the top 2 hottest players in the league ... and people wanna see him play. So, when folks drop up to thousands of dollars in hopes of seeing the Klaw play, just to have him ride the bench ... it doesn't sit well with the fans.
IT understands where the spectators are coming from ... and thinks there will have to be some sort of compromise before the NBA loses support.
"For the fans, I can see how some might be disappointed. At some point in time, the NBA, the players all of them gotta figure out how everyone can be satisfied because we do need the fans and we need the fan support to keep the machine going."
We also asked IT about the state of the Knicks -- and while the situation looks bleak, he did point out ONE good thing the organization has going for it.