The NBA will ramp up player testing and go back to last season’s mask protocols… right after Christmas. One of the biggest television draws and a huge showcase day for the NBA. But after that, player safety will be back on the front burner.
Meanwhile, big-name players and coaches continue to head into COVID-19 protocols as the league gets hit hard. The league may force teams with multiple players out to sign G-League players (all of whom are in Las Vegas right now for that showcase) as hardship signings to keep the player numbers up and avoid games from being postponed.
• Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel will not be on the bench for the Lakers against Chicago on Sunday as the team announced he has entered COVID-19 protocols. It is possible Vogel will not be on the bench on Christmas Day when the Lakers host the Nets (it’s possible James Harden and Kevin Durant could miss that marquee game for the Nets for the same reason). Vogel is vaccinated and can return when he has two negative tests 24 hours apart.
David Fizdale will take over as the Lakers’ head coach in Vogel’s absence.
Kent Bazemore also entered COVID-19 protocols. Add in injuries — such as the one Anthony Davis suffered — and the Lakers are very shorthanded (they have signed Isaiah Thomas on a hardship contract, and he played well in his first game).
So Lakers currently down due to health and safety protocols and injury:
— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) December 19, 2021
• Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has entered protocols and will be out Sunday against the Cavaliers, coach Nate McMillan said pregame.
Young and the Hawks are part of the NBA’s Christmas Day showcase, the first game of the day in New York against the Knicks. Young will need to produce two consecutive negative tests to get out of health and safety protocols.
Young has been playing at an All-NBA level this season, averaging 27.7 points and 9.3 assists a game while shooting 37.7% from 3. He is the heart of the second-ranked offense in the NBA, and when he is off the court the Hawks struggle to score efficiently.
• Young and the Hawks may not have a game Sunday after all because five Cleveland Cavaliers players tested positive and have entered the NBA COVID-19 protocols on Sunday morning. The Cavs may not be able to dress eight healthy players.
Five more players have tested positive on the Cavaliers, sources say, joining Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro in the league's health and safety protocols. https://t.co/3xFNuWuLG5
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 19, 2021