The 2020-21 season has is proving to be an eerie and unusual one as teams try to adjust to the NBA’s strict health and safety protocols and the absence of fans in arenas.
The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has already affected teams like the Houston Rockets who had their first game of the season postponed due to players either testing positive or coming into close contact to someone who did. With how infection rates have steadily increased throughout the nation, it is likely that similar incidents will happen throughout the year.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, there have already been a few instances of players being excused or forced to miss time due to the league’s protocols. Alex Caruso has missed the Lakers’ last three games due to these, and head coach Frank Vogel admitted he is not sure when he will be able to return to the team.
“I’m not sure the exact date that he’s going to be able to re-join us,” Vogel said. “He will not be available [Friday], obviously, and for the first game in Memphis. I know that for sure.”
The NBA recently reported that zero players had tested positive for coronavirus which would imply that Caruso did not contract it. However, it remains to be seen when Caruso will be allowed to practice and play again given the unclarity around his situation.
Los Angeles has missed Caruso’s defensive intensity and secondary playmaking off the bench, and it was apparent in the team’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland’s guards had too many wide open looks, and Caruso showed in the playoffs that he is capable of slowing down players like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
The silver lining is that Vogel will get an opportunity to give someone like Talen Horton-Tucker more regular season run, but getting Caruso back will only help the Lakers during this early stretch of the season.
Caruso will need time to acclimate once back
Caruso has only appeared in three games for the Lakers so far, and with the lack of an offseason will need even more time to get acclimated playing with the team.
The new additions seem to finally be settling in a bit, but the Lakers will need to find ways to get Caruso back up to speed when he is finally cleared to return.
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