Malik Monk initially returned two negative tests and had it reported by both ESPN and the O.C. Register that he had been cleared from health and safety protocols, and allowed him to travel with the team for their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Monk himself even tweeted “I’m back” on Thursday night.
However, Monk has tested positive again, and is back in the healthy and safety protocols. He deleted his tweet, and sent another one expressing his displeasure with the update.
— Malik Monk (@AhmadMonk) December 17, 2021
At this point, it seems pretty clear that Monk had a false negative, rather than a false positive. It’s good news that the team caught it again before he was allowed to suit up and play on Friday night, but it’s obviously not ideal that he traveled to join the team in Minnesota.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN provided more details on his (and Russell Westbrook’s) situations on Twitter:
Lakers guard Malik Monk was cleared to fly from Los Angeles to Minnesota to join the team for tonight's game, but ultimately was not cleared to play the game, sources tell ESPN. Russell Westbrook flew from Dallas to Minnesota today after testing out of protocols, per sources.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 17, 2021
So... yeah. Westbrook clearing the protocols less than 24 hours after he was initially placed into them seems like something to monitor in the wake of this. Monk rejoins Dwight Howard, Kendrick Nunn, Talen Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves and Avery Bradley among the Lakers players in the protocols as of right now.
Assistant coach Phil Handy is also in the protocols, with the O.C. Register reporting that he’s not set to return until at least after the team’s current road trip, and TV play-by-play broadcaster Bill Macdonald and radio analyst Mychal Thompson have also tested positive among the team’s traveling party as they deal with a full-blown outbreak.
Meanwhile, injured veteran forward Trevor Ariza is set to make his return to the lineup against the Wolves, but likely not play outside of injury emergency.
This developing story may be updated with more information.