Across the NBA, coronavirus (COVID-19) has begun to wreak havoc on rosters, with the Los Angeles Lakers currently in the midst of their own outbreak.
Numerous players and team personnel have been placed into the NBA’s health and safety protocols during the past week, depleting the team of its depth. Head coach Frank Vogel has already had issues with fielding consistent rotations, but the current situation will be yet another challenge for him as he tweaks his lineups based on who is available.
Vogel admitted before Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves that it has been a rollercoaster with all the new cases on the Lakers.
“You just got to roll with the punches,” Vogel said. “We woke thinking that Russell [Westbrook] was most likely out. We knew there was a very small chance and that Malik [Monk] would be in and then it ended up getting reserved. Malik is out and Russell is in.
“Then you wake up from your afternoon nap and find out Austin [Reaves] is out, so you just rip up your game plan, substitution and whatnot. And you redo it… We’re set who we have in the lineup tonight and we’re good to go.”
It seemed like Malik Monk would make his return after it was announced he returned two negative tests, but it was later revealed he didn’t end up clearing protocols in time to play on Friday.
Vogel discussed Monk’s situation, calling it a very complicated circumstance.
“Look, it’s a very detailed, nuanced and complex the protocols and the league takes each case literally case by case and they measure in all the factors of the testing and other medical factors. You can be cleared for one thing and not another. For instance, he was cleared to travel with us but was not cleared to be out of the protocols just yet.
“So that didn’t happen. We thought we were heading in that direction, but it didn’t happen.”
Monk has been a valuable contributor off the bench, so Los Angeles will miss his scoring prowess while he works through the league’s protocols to return. It is another tough blow for a Laker team that has just started to find its footing, so hopefully they can weather the storm until everyone is back and healthy.
Frank Vogel unsure of next steps during COVID-19 outbreak
Coronavirus is unlike anything the sports world has had to deal with, so Vogel himself was unsure about what the next steps are other than to play games with the players he has available.
“It’s craziness. I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s not like anything that I’ve seen before or dealt with before as a coach coming into games. Guys just in and out of the lineups like this. It’s challenging, but like I said, we don’t try to focus on anything we can’t control. Find out who’s in the game. Take those guys and go with the game.”
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