The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t even 24 hours out from their exhilarating 107-104 overtime win against the Dallas Mavericks before they were brought back down to Earth with terrible news. That news is that Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley will be entering health and safety protocols due to COVID-19 testing. Mike Trudell of the Lakers and Spectrum SportsNet reports that neither player traveled with the team from Dallas to Minnesota.
Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley have both entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Neither player joined the team on the flight to Minnesota.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 16, 2021
This is most likely the reason for the Lakers getting set to sign former Laker Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day, hardship exception contract (first reported by Marc Stein), as the team might really need his services in their upcoming games against the T’Wolves on Friday and the Bulls on Sunday (as well as maybe some following that).
Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley join Talen Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk, and Dwight Howard in protocols, leaving the Lakers with 11 available players if you include Thomas and two-way players Jay Huff and Chaundee Brown Jr. The players can return to the court if they return two negative tests within 24 hours, with a possibility of 10 days missed happening if they’re unable to do so.
It’s an extremely unfortunate setback to a team who has slowly been turning a corner from their early-season struggles. The Lakers have won three in a row and are winners in seven of their last 10 games, but they’ll have to dig deep into their bench now to continue winning. To make matters worse, they’ll have to do so in the middle of a road stretch, not returning home until Tuesday when they play the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers aren’t the only ones struggling with COVID-19 protocols, as their upcoming opponent the Bulls will be playing in their first game in nearly a week after they had two games postponed. The two games marked the first postponements of this season, as there may be more coming up with the entire league dealing with COVID-19 issues all over, with coaches and players alike testing positive for the deadly virus.
We’ll keep you updated with more as we find out, but let’s hope all affected players, coaches, and executives involved are feeling as healthy as they can be.