Despite returning from health and safety protocols and being on the bench on Tuesday, Dwight Howard did not play in the team’s loss to the Suns. The Lakers’ commitment to playing just one center moving forward this season raised some questions about whether his lack of time on the court was a strategic decision or one based on his health and availability.
Interim head coach David Fizdale confirmed the latter while talking to the media following practice on Wednesday, saying that the expectation is Howard will be available for Thursday’s game against the Spurs.
“He got a sweat in today and, right now going into it, I think he’ll be ready for us tomorrow, hopefully,” Fizdale said. “I don’t want to put a full stamp on that but, right now going into it, we’re hoping that he’ll be available and, obviously, we’ll be really happy to have him back.”
Considering that DeAndre Jordan, who has currently anchored down the center spot in Howard’s absence, was out of the rotation when Howard was previously available, it was a sensible conclusion to come to that Howard was unavailable last night and hadn’t been supplanted by Jordan.
The Lakers’ COVID issues haven’t been limited to players as head coach Frank Vogel has been in health and safety protocols as well. Fizdale also gave an update, or non-update, on Vogel’s status heading into the team’s game on Thursday as well.
“Frank’s doing better. He’s doing great,” Fizdale said. “I think we just wait to see what’s happening next with Frank’s test and we go from there. But, like I said, I don’t care. It’s not about me. I’m ready if they need me to step into that seat and I’m ready to be there to support Frank. It’s a day-to-day situation and we’re not going to get caught up in how unfortunate all of this is or how disruptive it all is because all we can control is our response to it and my response is to serve.”
As it stands, the Lakers are down to just four players and two coaches in health and safety protocols, down from over the half-dozen the team had in protocols at one point during the weekend with coaches Vogel and Phil Handy among those.
For now, though, it appears the team is rounding a corner when it comes to COVID cases and health and safety protocols and could start to try to find a groove again.