Trevor Ariza has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will be out vs. the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers announced on Thursday. Ariza joins Austin Reaves, Malik Monk, Avery Bradley and Kent Bazemore among Lakers players in isolation.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and assistant coach Phil Handy are also still out as of publishing time.
With Ariza now sidelined, the Lakers’ only available forwards are LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Talen Horton-Tucker will also presumably play more on the wing for as long as Ariza is out.
This news will also presumably force the team to sign another replacement player, as teams with multiple positives are now required to do under the league’s updated protocols to avoid cancellations, according to a memo obtained by ESPN on Sunday:
Under the agreement, a team will be allowed to sign a replacement player for each positive COVID-19 case that crops up across its roster. So, if a team has five positive cases of COVID-19, for example, it could sign five replacement players.
Meanwhile, teams will have to sign at least one replacement player if they have two positive COVID-19 cases; at least two if they have three positive COVID-19 cases; and at least three if they have four or more positive COVID-19 cases.
In the wake of outbreaks like the one the Lakers and multiple other teams have gone through in recent weeks — causing teams to have to field rosters full of replacement players on 10-day contracts — the NBA and the players’ union are reportedly discussing some possible changes that would allow players to return to the floor sooner, according to multiple reports:
The NBA and NBPA are in talks on shortened quarantines for players who test positive for COVID-19, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Sides are discussing allowing players to return faster – as soon as six days – based on testing cycle threshold.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 23, 2021
Based upon testing, the agreement could allow players to shorten quarantines down to six days, per sources. The NBA and NBPA have been consulting with their own infectious disease specialists and studying research models in the UK and elsewhere.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 23, 2021
These potential changes come after obvious frustration from players like Monk, who has repeatedly posted on social media asking to be freed from isolation. He’s not alone in his feelings, however, as the burbles of discontent from players and teams around the league were well-documented by both ESPN and Rolling Stone on Thursday morning:
An Omicron sledgehammer led to ghost teams, desperate call-ups, confusion, frustration and more than 100 players entering the league's health and safety protocols in the past three weeks alone.— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) December 23, 2021
New feature with @wojespn goes inside the NBA's COVID crisis: https://t.co/rL9ePjb6r1
This breaking news story may update with more information and analysis as it develops.