Monday, June 27, 2022

The Lakers’ Westbrook is now in protocol as the number of NBA viruses grows. AP News

Russell Westbrook entered the NBA’s health and safety protocol on Thursday, replacing Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brooklyn’s James Harden as the previous league MVPs currently sidelined by coronavirus concerns.

Westbrook played 42 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in their overtime win in Dallas. The Lakers said he would not play in Minnesota on Friday night along with four other players due to virus issues and two others due to injuries.

This means the Lakers will have no more than 10 available players on their roster for a game against the Timberwolves. The team was planning to sign former All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day hardship contract on Friday if the NBA is allowed to sign reinforcements and temporarily exceed the roster-size limit. , according to a person with direct knowledge of the conversation. The man spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity pending the league’s approval.

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As of Thursday evening, there were at least 39 players – about 8% of the league’s total player roster – from at least 13 different teams known in the league’s protocol. Chicago had a league-high eight players known in protocol, one more than Brooklyn. Harden and Antetokounmpo both entered into protocol earlier this week.

“We got hit really hard with all of this and we lost a lot of players,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said on Thursday. “The other teams have probably suffered a bit, but not as much.”

Thomas scored 42 points for Grand Rapids in a G League game on Wednesday night and recently appeared in two matches for USA Basketball at World Cup qualifying games in Mexico. He was in the NBA briefly last season, averaging 7.7 points in three games with New Orleans.

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If that happens, it will be his second stint with the Lakers. He appeared in 17 matches with them during the 2017-18 season.

“For me, personally, the ultimate goal is to get back in the NBA,” Thomas, who averaged 29 points for the Boston Celtics in 2016-17 and has since spent a lot of time battling injuries, said last month. “But I just love playing basketball. … I like to compete and I like to play against the best players in the world.”

There was good news on Thursday when the Bulls revealed that two of their 10 players who entered the protocol have been cleared for withdrawal.

Two games were postponed this week by the Bulls due to a player shortage. For now, he is scheduled to return to play Sunday at home against the Lakers.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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