Frank Vogel has cleared the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and will return to the sidelines, the Lakers announced on Friday. He will be back for the team’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers tonight.
During the nearly two weeks Vogel spent in isolation, assistant coach David Fizdale served as the interim head coach. Vogel entered health and safety protocols on Dec. 19 amidst the team’s outbreak at the time, eventually spending 11 full days away from the team in total. The Lakers were 1-5 during that stretch.
Despite being isolated, Vogel was a regular part of the team’s coaches meetings, which were conducted over Zoom. The Lakers did, however, fully embrace LeBron James playing center in the time since he last roamed the sideline for the team.
Vogel would have certainly signed off on the move, having initially been the one to use James at center this season while speaking of the positive impact it has on the team. In the time he was gone, though, it has gone from simply part of the gameplan to one version of the starting lineup, even if that has also come largely due to Anthony Davis being injured as well.
The team, though, has cycled through a vast number of players since Vogel last coached. Darren Collison and Stanley Johnson, to varying degrees, have arrived and established themselves as potential role players moving forward while Vogel has been sidelined.
But Vogel’s return comes at a time when the Lakers appear, for now, to be getting healthier once again. With Vogel back, the team now has its head coach and all players cleared from the protocols.
So while Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn remain out for the foreseeable future, the Lakers appear to be on the other side of their COVID outbreak from earlier in the month, and can now start to return to something closer to normal. Or at least as close to normal as things can be in the current NBA.
This developing story may update with more information. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.