Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James has entered the N.B.A.’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, the team announced Tuesday.
James missed the team’s game Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings. It is unclear when he will be able to play again, and it is also unclear whether James has tested positive for the coronavirus or has come into close contact with someone who tested positive.
Lakers Coach Frank Vogel told reporters before the game that he found out Tuesday morning that James had entered the health and safety protocols. Vogel said the team arranged for James to get “back to L.A. safely.”
Players who test positive for the coronavirus must miss at least 10 days before they can return. All players who enter the protocol must return two negative tests on separate days before being allowed to play again.
James, 36, said before the season that he had been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Typically, players who are vaccinated face less stringent requirements than unvaccinated players. After Thanksgiving, though, the league implemented enhanced testing requirements even for vaccinated players, according to documents sent by league officials to each of the 30 teams. They did so with the expectation that the holiday would increase players’ potential exposure to the virus.
“We just want the best for him right now,” Vogel said. “That’s where our thoughts are. We have a next man up mind-set. It’s an 82-game season. You got to deal with guys being in and out of the lineup. We’ve been without him some already this season.”
This will be the 12th game James has missed this season. He missed 10 because of ankle and abdominal injuries. He also missed the Lakers’ game against the Knicks earlier this month after being suspended for the first time in his 19-season career.