Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirmed that LeBron James and Anthony Davis will both play against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night after both of them were previously on the injury report, but he added that Alex Caruso will miss the game, and it won’t be with the “right hand strain” he was previously listed with following Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Caruso will instead be the first Lakers player to miss a regular season game under the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
“That’s all I can say about that,” Vogel said when pressed for any additional explanation.
While we are not going to speculate about why Caruso is being held out, it is worth noting that he played in a game for the Lakers last night, and that no other players or staff are being held out for contact tracing or otherwise, according to Vogel.
Being held out with this designation also does not necessarily mean that a player has contracted the coronavirus, as two-way players Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo both previously missed one game each due to the league’s protocols before being cleared to return to the team, and would have been required to be out far longer had they been infected with the virus, whether they were symptomatic or not. And as the NBA attempts to return to play during a global pandemic, expect that these will be far from the only absences that the Lakers have this season, regardless of the ultimate reasons under the stringent protocols.
With Caruso out, expect to see more of Talen Horton-Tucker as the sophomore guard continues to make a case for a role in the regular backcourt rotation. The Lakers and Blazers will tip off at 7:00 p.m. PT.