The Los Angeles Lakers announced that Frank Vogel and Kent Bazemore have entered health and safety protocols on Saturday as the team’s outbreak continues this week. Bazemore is now the seventh Lakers player to be put into isolation, joining Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves and the recently returned to protocols Malik Monk. Vogel is the second Lakers coach, along with Phil Handy, to be placed in health and safety protocols. David Fizdale will serve as the team’s head coach on Sunday against the Bulls.
The Lakers say Frank Vogel and Kent Bazemore have entered health and safety protocols. David Fizdale will serve as head coach for however long Vogel is out. Lakers play Bulls tonight.— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 19, 2021
Bazemore’s absence thins the wing roster down to just LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Wayne Ellington and Trevor Ariza, though his status is still questionable as he returns from his ankle surgery. Including Ariza, the Lakers are back down to 10 players, which includes two-way players Jay Huff and Chaundee Brown and recent 10-day signee Isaiah Thomas.
Vogel’s absence may be softened by Fizdale’s presence and prior experience as an NBA head coach. Fizdale also has long had a relationship with James, dating back to their time in Miami, which would also help the transition. However, the rest of the coaching staff is thin with Handy and Vogel, two of the veterans of the staff, both now sidelined.
Barring either Vogel or Bazemore returning back consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart, this would sideline them from the team until nearly New Year’s Eve, a span that includes the team’s Christmas Day game against Brooklyn and six games in total.
In total, the Lakers now have 11 personnel in health and safety protocols, seven of those being players. Along with Vogel and Fizdale, radio broadcaster Mychal Thompson and Lakers play-by-play broadcaster Bill Macdonald, both part of the team’s travel party, are also in isolation.
That might seem like a lot of isolations for one team to handle, but the NBA has made it clear that they do not plan to shut down or delay games unless absolutely necessary. No matter how much people — including my colleague Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation — call for them to at least take a breather to reassess things.
To wit, the league is currently mulling a variety of measures, ranging from forcing teams to sign extra players who can both walk and test negative for COVID to 10-day contracts in order to keep things going, or even letting asymptomatic players play as they desperately try to avoid a stoppage while positive tests around the league (and the world) rise in the wake of the emergence of the Omicron variant:
On an NBA Board of Governors call Friday, there was an overwhelming sentiment among NBA owners to do whatever is necessary to avoid postponements and cancellations this season, sources said. https://t.co/C9LDII4jws— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 18, 2021
The numbers continue to grow, but, as of this writing:— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) December 18, 2021
There have been 70 NBA players who’ve entered health and safety protocols this month (out of 86 all season), and 50 of them have entered in the past week (12/12-12/18) alone.
Sources: After the first case of COVID, a team would be permitted to add a 10-day player, but after a second, third and fourth case, teams would be required to add a 10-day player. Teams would be limited to three replacement players. Salaries wouldn’t count against cap or tax.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 17, 2021
Notable. Essentially means NFL would let asymptomatic COVID-positive players play on & not sit out. Once one league does it, others have cover to follow. Reported Thurs. NBA thought about letting asymptomatic COVID-positive players play but isn't there yet https://t.co/wwc0Dn6Xcl https://t.co/PRA7qsLPrN— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) December 18, 2021
As a result, the Lakers’ next game in Chicago is currently still scheduled to tip off — after already being delayed due to the Bull’s own ongoing outbreak — at 5 p.m. PT on Sunday.