Injuries and the NBA’s health and safety protocols are taking a toll on the Los Angeles Lakers and their rivals this season, leading to the rising significance of the team’s G League affiliates.
L.A. keeps their two-way players, Chaundee Brown and Jay Huff, with the South Bay Lakers so they can stay in shape by playing G League basketball in case their services are needed in the NBA.
Head coach Frank Vogel used Huff and former two-way player Sekou Doumbouya in a couple of games when Los Angeles needed to fill the void caused by an injury wave earlier this year.
As players move back and forth between the two leagues, South Bay boosted its roster by signing former Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors forward Stanley Johnson in November. However, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that the Chicago Bulls have lured Johnson away from L.A.:
The Chicago Bulls are signing forward Stanley Johnson out of NBA G League’s South Bay Lakers via hardship exemption, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Johnson went to training camp with the Bulls.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 8, 2021
Johnson practiced with Chicago in the preseason, playing four games before the franchise waived the forward a few days before the start of the 2021-22 campaign. He made six appearances for South Bay before returning to Illinois.
The Bulls’ roster has been decimated by what seems like a coronavirus outbreak within the team. DeMar DeRozan, Coby White and Javonte Green have missed multiple games after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocol.
Meanwhile, former Lakers guard Alex Caruso has recently been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Patrick Williams has been inactive since late October with a ligament tear in his left wrist.
Johnson eventually never got to play for the Lakers, which he has said was his favorite team growing up. Before the Pistons selected the forward with the eighth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, he also named Kobe Bryant as “one of his favorite players to ever play the game.”
James frustrated with health & safety protocol after false positive coronavirus test result
The NBA’s health and safety protocols impacted the Lakers earlier this season, ruling out LeBron James for last week’s victory over the Sacramento Kings. It turned out his positive test result was a false alarm and the four-time NBA champion returned to the lineup for the clash with the L.A. Clippers a few days later.
However, the restrictions imposed by the protocols caused James and his family plenty of inconveniences. Those included a rushed return to L.A. which, the Lakers’ superstars said, he had to figure out by himself. He added no security was allowed to fly with the 36-year-old forward as James — and later his family — had to isolate to comply with the league’s rules.
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