After two weeks away from the Lakers while in the NBA’s coronavirus-related health and safety protocols, Marc Gasol has been cleared to rejoin his teammates at Staples Center for their game against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday, according to head coach Frank Vogel.
Gasol is still not eligible to play yet, however. Thursday will be the sixth game he’s missed since entering the protocols, the most games any Laker has missed and by far the most amount of actual time.
“He is cleared from isolation and quarantine and will be with our team tonight, but still has a few steps left before he can be cleared to play,” Vogel said. “He’s here, I would assume he’ll be on the bench, yes.”
Asked how much of what was holding Gasol back was the league’s protocols and how much was the Lakers just not wanting to throw him back in right away after two weeks without NBA basketball, Vogel said Gasol still fell under the league’s health and safety protocols and did not specify what specifically was keeping him out, something teams around the league have done all year to protect the medical privacy of players as they play their season amidst the pandemic.
“It’s still a protocols thing,” Vogel said. “Once he clears that we’ll make an evaluation as to whether he needs some time to get his legs back under him.”
Vogel has previously said that Gasol will return to his normal place in the starting lineup — replacing 10-day signing Damian Jones — when he returns, but for now that’s not something the team needs to think about. For Gasol, whether he’s suiting up or not, it will surely just be nice to be around his teammates and co-workers again after so much time away.