The Los Angeles Lakers and the entire NBA are navigating what may likely be the most unique season in league history. Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, teams are having to deal with plenty of uncertainty on a seemingly nightly basis.
Without the Walt Disney World bubble providing a sort of natural protection, NBA players find themselves susceptible to COVID-19 exposure. It’s possible that the team that wins the championship will simply be the team that avoids the pandemic the best.
When recently discussing the challenges of playing the season and the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel accurately predicted there would be plenty of absences.
“That’s the norm for an NBA season outside the bubble. We set an expectation that it’s going to be abnormal to be at full strength — staff and players,” Vogel said. “There’s going to be guys out a lot, and we all have to try to get used to the fact that’s going to be normal for this season league-wide. Hopefully it’s as minimal as possible.
“We just try to find a silver lining in it. When certain guys are going to be out, other guys are going to get more opportunities.”
The Lakers have endured some of that firsthand, most notably with Alex Caruso missing a stretch of games due to being exposed to someone who contracted the virus. Caruso himself never tested positive and ultimately gained clearance to return.
Question marks surrounding potential positive tests and outbreaks are what led to the NBA only releasing the first half of the 2020-21 schedule. This way, games that get postponed due to can be rescheduled in the second half of the season.
While this will be an adjustment for Vogel, he and the Lakers have built a very deep roster. They will be able to withstand losing one or two players every now and then and still be competitive every night.
Marc Gasol preaches adaptability with league protocols
The Lakers have taken the NBA’s protocols seriously and expressed an understanding with the league recently implementing even stricter guidelines.
Marc Gasol acknowledged that while they do present some challenges — especially for players with young children — it ultimately is in the best interest of all involved.
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