The NBA and other sports leagues have been hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic worse than ever in recent weeks as the Omicron variant continues to sweep the country.
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the teams that have been hit the worst over the past week as they currently have six players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols in Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk, Avery Bradley, Austin Reaves and Kent Bazemore in addition to head coach Frank Vogel and assistant Phil Handy.
L.A. has already brought in one replacement player via the NBA’s Hardship Exception, signing Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract.
With Anthony Davis also dealing with a knee injury, there is legit concern that the Lakers may not be able to field a full team if more players enter the health and safety protocols in the coming days.
The Lakers won’t have to be concerned about that anymore, however, as Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that teams can now sign one replacement player for every player who is out due to a positive test, and they will actually be required to do so:
Sources: NBA teams will now be required to sign one replacement player when they have two positive tests on the roster. For three positive tests, two replacement signings are required. For four positive results or more, three hardship signings required. https://t.co/tOtwOLzyb4
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 20, 2021
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, these signings will not affect the luxury tax, which has been a concern of the Lakers in the past, so they will not have to worry about that if they bring players in:
Most importantly for teams: Hardship signings will not impact team's salary cap and luxury tax, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 20, 2021
Horton-Tucker and Howard were among the first Lakers players who entered the protocols around one week ago, so it’s possible that they could return soon. Either way though, it’s looking like the Lakers should be able to sign a couple of players in the coming days in order to give them some much-needed depth.
Fizdale compares NBA season to Hunger Games
David Fizdale, who will be the Lakers’ acting head coach as long as Vogel is in protocols, recently compared the NBA season to the Hunger Games in that the team will have to adapt to get by until players return.
“It’s Hunger Games. You just adapt. Literally, you adapt,” Fizdale said before Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls. “You don’t get into the complaining and moaning and groaning of it. It is what it is. This is our world right now. We just have to adapt to it and work around it.
“Frank [Vogel] has opened my eyes to a new world of preparation. A new way of doing things that’s been so effective. I’ve been learning and it’s really helped us in these moments of turbulence, so be it.”
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