The Los Angeles Lakers will be without LeBron James for at least the next 10 days after he entered NBA’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday.
The news was announced prior to the Lakers matchup against the Kings. James has already missed half of the Lakers games due to injuries and a one-game suspension. Heading into Tuesday’s matchup Los Angeles was 7-4 with James and 4-7 without him.
James is expected to miss “several games” according to ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski, which likely means he tested positive for the virus.
If a player has tested positive for COVID-19, 10 days must pass since the first positive test and the player must return two negative PCR test results from samples collected at least 24 hours apart. As veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein pointed out, the league increased testing after the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Obviously it’s a huge loss. It’s disappointing. We just want the best for him right now. That’s where our thoughts are, and we have a next-man-up mindset,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said on Tuesday.
James Has Said Previously That He’s Vaccinated
James said at the start of the season that he was vaccinated, doing it for his family and friends.
“I know that I was very skeptical about it all,” he said. “But after doing my research and things of that nature, I felt like it was best suited, not only for me but for my family and my friends. And that’s why I decided to do it.”
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said that the team was expecting to be 100% vaccinated by the start of the season.
The big problem for the Lakers is that they’ve been trying to find the right mix with their new “Big Three,” even experimenting with James at the center spot. That chemistry building will have to wait.
James Will be Able to Get Healthy During Time Away
James was battling to get back on the court with his teammates after dealing with an ab strain to start the year. James was questionable against the Kings for Tuesday’s game with the same injury.
The four-time MVP hasn’t had the best injury luck since landing in LA. James dealt with a serious groin injury during his first season and spent much of last year hobbled by a freak ankle injury that happened on a loose ball. James said he spent much of the offseason recovering after gutting it out to get back on the court in the postseason.
“It took a while,” James told reporters on Monday, October 18. “I didn’t do much basketball stuff for probably the first two months of the summer, which is very rare for me, because my ankle wasn’t responding how I would like it to respond.
“And the best thing about the summertime was I had time. I had time to just really get ready when my ankle was ready to go. I was always training, just wasn’t on the basketball court much. Always doing other stuff, training, pushing, seeing if I could do other stuff with my ankle, and until I got to a point where I didn’t feel any sharp pains anymore, and my flexibility was back to where it was before. That’s when I knew I could get back on the floor.”
If 10 days ends up being the number of days missed by James, he’d be back in action against the Oklahoma City Thunder on December 10.