Warriors Rotation Takes Major Hit After COVID-19 Setbacks

Damion Lee

Getty Damion Lee brings the ball up the court in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Golden State Warriors will be shorthanded for a critical stretch after a pair of players entered the league’s health and safety protocol after an apparent COVID-19 setback.

Reports emerged on Friday that both Kent Bazemore and Damion Lee would be out for an extended stretch, forcing lineup changes for a team already struck by injury. This comes as the Warriors fight for playoff positioning and try to move up the standings enough to avoid the play-in tournament.

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Lee Out Close to Two Weeks

The Athletic’s Anthony Slater reported on Friday that the Warriors could be losing Lee for a long stretch. As KNBR reported, it appeared he suffered a positive COVID-19 test, which keeps the second-unit guard out for at least five games.

“Warriors forward Damion Lee is entering the league’s health and safety protocols for what’s expected to be a 10-14 day absence. Lee has been a huge help lately for an already thin rotation,” Slater reported on Twitter.

Lee had been playing just under 19 minutes a game for the Warriors, averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. He has also brought a strong shooting touch to the second unit, shooting 39.7 percent from behind the three-point arc.

Lee took to Twitter to address his absence, noting that he had already received the COVID-19 vaccine and was adhering to proper safety protocol. Public health experts have noted that the vaccines do not fully prevent transmissions, but have been proven to protect those vaccinated from developing severe cases that could require hospitalization.

Warriors Lose Bazemore

Golden State is also losing Bazemore to the league’s health and safety protocol, though he noted that it was not due to a positive test.

Before the setback, Bazemore had made his way into the starting lineup. As NBC Sports Bay Area noted, the veteran swingman had been on a hot stretch, averaging 11.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals in the last nine games. He also connected on 54.5 percent of his three-pointers during that stretch. As the report noted, Kelly Oubre is expected to slide back into the starting lineup in Bazemore’s absence.

The setbacks come as the Warriors have been fighting for playoff positioning. Golden State is 29-30, putting them in 10th place in the Western Conference and holding onto the final playoff spot. Head coach Steve Kerr has floated a goal of reaching the No. 6 spot, which would allow the Warriors to avoid the play-in tournament. They are currently three-and-a-half games out, with the Portland Trail Blazers holding onto the sixth seed with a 32-26 record and a tie-breaker over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Warriors have already been hit by COVID-19 setbacks over the course of the year, including a positive test that kept rookie James Wiseman out of training camp for an extended stretch. The team has lost Wiseman again to a season-ending knee injury, and now will be even more short-handed for at least the next week until Bazemore can return from the health and safety protocol followed by Lee.

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