The Los Angeles Lakers have announced that Wayne Ellington will be out for the team’s game against the Houston Rockets with a non-COVID illness. As of publishing time, no other Lakers have cleared the protocols for Tuesday’s game.
Heading into practice on Monday, the Lakers had head coach Frank Vogel and four players — Rajon Rondo, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore and Austin Reaves — in health and safety protocols.
With Ellington joining the list of unavailable players, the team is down to just Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley, Malik Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker, two-way player Mason Jones and emergency replacement players Darren Collison and Jemerrio Jones in the backcourt vs. Houston.
While interim head coach David Fizdale did not have an update on Vogel’s status after practice — one that Bradley participated in after getting a DNP-CD in his own first game back from the protocols — he did reveal that it’s just a matter of Vogel needing enough negative tests to exit protocols at this point.
“He’s doing well health-wise, his spirit is right, just obviously champing at the bit to get back and start competing,” Fizdale said.
On Monday, the league announced that vaccinated players and coaches could clear quarantine after just six days if testing results indicate they are no longer at risk to be infectious.
The NBA and NBPA agreement comes at a time when players are testing positive and heading into quarantine at an unprecedented rate -- 172 have entered Covid protocols in past two weeks, including a single-day high of 27 on Sunday.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 27, 2021
The NBA’s memo to teams said a cycle threshold of 35 or higher on two consecutive days (starting day 5 after the initial positive or inconclusive) will get you out of protocols. If your cycle threshold then dips below 30 or your symptoms return, you’re back in protocols. https://t.co/lQ7RuBS55e— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) December 28, 2021
This could potentially be beneficial to the Lakers with Vogel (ninth day), Reaves (11th day) and Bazemore (ninth day) past that six-day window, and Ariza (six days in protocols) nearing it as well. Rondo is in his third day in isolation, as of Tuesday.
Bradley’s return to practice on Monday follows a similar pattern those that have exited protocols for the Lakers. With few exceptions, namely Malik Monk on Christmas Day, the Lakers have had players who came out of protocols take part in a practice or shootaround before playing a game.
The team took a similar approach with Dwight Howard when he exited protocols last week as well. However, with the Lakers set for a back-to-back road trip on Tuesday and Wednesday, Fizdale did not rule out the possibility of one of the players joining the team and potentially playing should they exit protocols early enough on Tuesday to get to Houston, or to Memphis on Wednesday.
“There’s always a chance of that,” Fizdale said. “We’re trying to get our guys back in the fold as soon as possible... If some guys are healthy and the opportunity is there to get them out there with us, I’m sure that will be something we’re looking at.”
The Lakers play in Houston on Tuesday before traveling to Memphis on Wednesday, and then return to Los Angeles on Friday. The Rockets themselves won’t be at full strength either as both D.J. Augustin and Garrison Matthews were in health and safety protocols as of Monday afternoon as well.
This story may update with more information as it continues to develop.