Marc Gasol will become the third player and fourth member of the Lakers organization that we know of to miss a game under the NBA’s coronavirus-related health and safety protocols, according to the league’s official status report. That is an update from the previous injury report the Lakers released on Monday night, which did not list Gasol on it.
Gasol now joins Alex Caruso and Dennis Schröder — who missed four games each (at different times) due to contact tracing and say they never tested positive for the virus — among Lakers players to have to sit out under this designation. Head athletic trainer Nina Hsieh also missed a game earlier this season but was able to travel with the team immediately afterwards and returned to the bench for the next game, leading one to believe that she did not test positive, either.
It is unknown whether it is a positive test or contact tracing leading to this absence for Gasol, and it is both irresponsible to speculate, and unlikely that the Lakers will provide many more details. The league as a whole has been intentionally vague to protect players’ privacy when they are held out under this designation, and head coach Frank Vogel couldn’t provide too much of an update prior to the game.
“It changes things a lot for us,” Vogel said. “All I can really say at this point is that he’s out for health and safety protocols. We’re going to start Montrezl (Harrell) and have a next-man-up mentality.”
When asked if there was any chance Gasol could return for Wednesday’s road game against the Sacramento Kings, Vogel paused for five seconds, then simply said “I still don’t know.” So for now, there is no way to know how quickly he could return. The Lakers’ previous experiences here demonstrate that these situations can vary widely. Vogel said that for as long as Gasol is out, their starting center would depend on the matchup.
Gasol has played in and started at center in all 35 Lakers games to this point. With him out, expect Montrezl Harrell and Markieff Morris to play more minutes as the Lakers mostly go small, with a chance for new 10-day signing Damian Jones to see some real minutes to prove himself as well, given that he’s the only traditionally sized center on the roster. Jones was listed as questionable to play due to a back strain he suffered against the Warriors, but he said it was “nothing too major” and the Lakers say he will be available against the team that cut him last week.