Avery Bradley and Malik Monk have been cleared to return from the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the team’s Christmas Day game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Lakers announced on Saturday.
With Monk and Bradley able to return, Austin Reaves, Kent Bazemore and Trevor Ariza are the only Lakers players remaining in the health and safety protocols.
Head coach Frank Vogel is also still in the health and safety protocols. Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn, however, will remain out with their respective knee injuries.
Monk and Bradley’s returns give the Lakers two much-needed reinforcements in the backcourt, and should in theory make the team less reliant on 10-day replacement players like Jemerrio Jones, Isaiah Thomas and the recently added Darren Collison.
The Nets, meanwhile have been dealing with their own outbreak and will hardly have their full roster for this game, either. But they did get a few players back ahead of their flight to Los Angeles on Friday.
Steve Nash says no additional players went into health and safety protocols.— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) December 24, 2021
DeAndre’ Bembry is cleared Nic Claxton is available.
Steve Nash said Blake Griffin and James Harden are both available as well tomorrow for the Lakers Christmas game.— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) December 24, 2021
Nash added that Bembry tested out of protocols. The rest of the guys on protocols didn’t test out yet.
Steve Nash confirms Kyrie Irving, who is in health and safety protocols will not join the team on the trip.— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) December 24, 2021
Nash added, like yesterday he’ll need a ramp-up.
Patty Mills said James Harden practiced with the team today. Mills said he’s ready to go and joked his braids are “crisp.”— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) December 24, 2021
It remains to be seen if any more players from either team will be cleared in time for this game. Especially given news that the NBA and NBPA are close to an agreement on allowing players to return more quickly from the health and safety protocols, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who is low-key hilarious for this final line (emphasis mine):
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are near an agreement to reduce the 10-day quarantine periods for COVID-positive players, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
The arrangement — expected to soon be shared with teams — could return some players to active play in six days, based on testing procedures, sources said.
It is immediately unclear how the looming protocols change might impact rosters for the high-profile Christmas Day slate of games on Saturday.
Unclear indeed, Woj. Unclear indeed. Wink-wink.
Anyway, the remains of these two former superteams are currently slated to tip off at 5 p.m. PT on Saturday as part of the NBA’s previously marquee Christmas Day schedule. The game will be televised nationally on both ESPN and ABC.
CHRISTMAS DAY NBA 2021 pic.twitter.com/7ehz9SFNWH— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) December 25, 2021
This breaking news story will update with more information and analysis as it continues to develop.