Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Sunday, as was Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel, as coronavirus numbers around the league continued to rise.
Young is the only Hawks player on the protocols list, coach Nate McMillan told reporters in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Vogel won’t be on the bench when the Lakers play at Chicago on Sunday. David Fizdale will coach the Lakers in Vogel’s place, the team said.
The Hawks play Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who now have issues of their own, with five more players testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, a person familiar with the team’s situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team has yet to announce any players going into protocols.
The Cavaliers won their sixth straight game on Saturday against Milwaukee. The Bucks were without star Giannis Antetokounmpo along with Donte DiVincenzo and Bobby Portis due to COVID-19 issues.
The Bulls are returning to the court after having two games postponed last week. Through Saturday’s games, those were the only games the NBA had pushed back during this outbreak — with more than 50 players placed on the protocols list in recent days.
“It is what it is. Just trying to stay safe as possible and that’s all you can do,” Lakers guard Russell Westbrook said of the NBA’s rising numbers. Westbrook was briefly in the protocols late last week, before returning at least three negative tests and being cleared to return to play without missing a game.
The league and the National Basketball Players Association have been discussing a plan in which teams in desperate need of players would be able to sign reinforcements to 10-day contracts but without those deals impacting salary cap and luxury tax figures. That deal has not yet been finalized, though talks are continuing.
Brooklyn has a league-high 10 players currently in the league’s health and safety protocols, including Kevin Durant, James Harden and — even though he’s still not yet able to play — Kyrie Irving, who has sat out all season for not complying with New York City's vaccine mandate. The team reversed course Friday and said Irving would be welcomed back “for games and practices in which he is eligible to participate,” meaning road games except for those in San Francisco, which also mandates vaccines.
The Nets had eight players available Saturday for their game against Orlando; the Magic had nine players available for that game.
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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