Lakers on board with NBA imposing more stringent COVID-19 protocols

New rules implemented to help curb increase in positive tests
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel understood playing an NBA season outside the bubble would entail constant adjustment.

So, Vogel was not surprised when the league announced more stringent COVID-19 protocols after a spike in positive tests and five postponed games over the past week.

Vogel said his team will adhere to the new rules, and that the Lakers already are dealing with stringent protocols because they live, practice and play games in Los Angeles County, one of the most stringent places for COVID-19 enforcement in the country.

“This is a pandemic,” Vogel said. “So, there’s worse hardships in the world right now than us having to wear our masks more and have shorter meetings. It’s just the fact of the matter. I’m really not stressed about it at all. We’re going to have a shorter meeting and I’ll be there talking like an auctioneer. … There’s bigger hardships. It’s not something we’re going to worry about. We’re going to follow the rules to a ‘T’ and do what’s best for the league moving forward and not have cancellations of games and guys being out.”

New protocols put in place in an agreement with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) for the next two weeks include:

* Players limiting activities at home to attending team-related activities at the team facility or arena, exercise outside, or essential activities. When on the road, players and team staff are prohibited from leaving their hotel. Players cannot attend league-approved restaurants or have guests in their room.

* Pre-game meetings are limited to no more than 10 minutes and all attendees must wear a facemask. All other meetings involving players and team staff must continue to occur on the court, in a league-approved space, or at the arena in a room large enough to provide for at least 6 feet of distance between individuals. Meeting attendees must continue to wear facemasks at all times.

* All treatment sessions at a hotel, such as massages and physical therapy, must occur in a ballroom or other large open space, with at least 12 feet between individual stations. Facemasks and face shields are required for all individuals during such sessions.

* Players must always wear facemasks in the locker room, during strength and conditioning activities and when traveling with anyone other than a household member. Coaches and other team staff must wear facemasks at all times during games.

The Lakers have been fortunate that they have not been greatly affected by having players unavailable. Guard Alex Caruso missed five games due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

Lakers center Marc Gasol said he optimistic the league can get through the duration of the season with the new protocols in place.

“That’s the hope,” Gasol said. “I think the NBA is trying to get us through the schedule as safe as possible. I’m sure they have many plans that would lead us that way. We do as much as possible, as best as possible to stay on course and do our job, but I have no idea what this might turn into. Hopefully, we’ll get through this month, which they anticipate being a tough month, and then we’ll go from there.”