April 19, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Lakers, Clippers personnel excused under coronavirus protocol

The specter of COVID-19 reached the Lakers and Clippers on Sunday when three players and an assistant missed the teams’ second matchup of the preseason because of what were termed excused absences under the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and reserve guard Reggie Jackson, along with Lakers forwards Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok, were not with their respective teams. All four had been at Staples Center for the teams’ preseason opener two days earlier.

In addition, Lakers forward Alfonzo McKinnie has yet to report to the team since training camp began one week ago because of an excused absence.

An excused absence applies to scenarios that include either a positive or inconclusive result or because of reasons related to contact tracing, a league source said.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said he did not know how long it could take for Billups and Jackson to rejoin the team.

“All teams are going through the same thing, we’ve just got to follow protocols as best as we can and we have to adapt,” Lue said.

Clippers forward Paul George said being prepared for alterations to the team’s lineup or staff because of COVID-related protocols was “just part of the job” now.

“There are going to be guys out — a lot,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We just have to get used to the fact that it’s going to be normal for this season leaguewide. And hopefully it’s as minimal as possible but we’re just trying to find the silver lining in it.

“When certain guys are going to be out, other guys are going to get more opportunity. You saw that with the guys tonight.”

Highlights from the Lakers’ 131-106 preseason win over the Clippers at Staples Center on Sunday.

The NBA is currently in its self-described fourth phase of the lead-up to the regular season’s start on Dec. 22, during which players and staffers continue to undergo regular polymerase chain reaction testing and daily health monitoring.

Billups, the most valuable player in the 2004 Finals, is in his first season as a coach after playing point guard in the NBA for 17 seasons before retiring in 2014.

Jackson played 12 minutes in Friday’s preseason opener.

His spot in the Clippers’ reserve lineup was replaced Sunday by second-year guard Terance Mann.

Antetokounmpo played 24 minutes and Cacok 25 minutes Friday for the Lakers.

After resuming and finishing last season at Disney World near Orlando, Fla., the NBA is pushing forward on its plan to play this season in teams’ home markets amid worsening rates of infection across the country.

“Other leagues have been successful under these conditions,” George said. “It is part of the job. We hope for no one to get it and everyone to stay healthy. But realistically it’s probably not going to happen. But I think everyone is taking the steps to just make sure it doesn’t spread and we keep this league going.”

Teams are abiding by more than 130 pages of protocols governing how the league will test and return those who have been infected by the novel coronavirus back to the court. The return-to-play guidelines state that at least 12 days must pass between a first positive test or the end of symptoms, if any.

The league’s time-based procedure for returning to play requires an infected person to isolate for at least 10 days after the first positive test or the start of symptoms, if any; wait at least 24 hours since their fever has passed without using any fever-reducing medications; and ensure that other symptoms have improved.

A testing-based procedure requires that infected person must test negative twice from samples collected at least 24 hours apart. Like its time-based procedure, this route to returning to play also includes a 10-day prohibition on participating in exercise training.

“It’s kind of the new norm, the safety protocols,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said. “They continue to get updated every day. Different things that they implement, a lot of small things and so we just kind of get used to it, get over it, just take care of yourself personally and keep moving.”