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LeBron James enters NBA's COVID-19 protocols; How many games will Lakers star miss?

Sporting News logo Sporting News 12/1/2021 Jordan Greer

The Lakers will have to play an extended stretch without their best player — again.

Los Angeles announced on Nov. 30 that LeBron James has entered the NBA's health and safety protocols. The four-time MVP, who missed 11 of the Lakers' first 22 games because of multiple injuries and a suspension, is now expected to sit out several more games, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

What's next for James? Here's everything we know about his status and the latest news on when he may return to the court.

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Why did LeBron James enter the NBA's health and safety protocols?

James entered the league's health and safety protocols before the Lakers' Nov. 30 game against the Kings because he tested positive for COVID-19, according to a TMZ Sports report. After Los Angeles' 117-92 win over Sacramento, Lakers star Anthony Davis told reporters that he had spoken to James about his condition.

"[James] said he's good," Davis said. "I think he's asymptomatic, which is a good sign, but we want to make sure that he gets back. Health is most important. This is bigger than basketball. He has a family. We want to make sure that he's good no matter what. ... Like I said, he seemed to be fine."

Before the start of the 2021-22 season, James publicly declared that he had been vaccinated against COVID-19. However, he didn't go so far as to position himself as a vaccine advocate.

"We're talking about individuals' bodies," James said at the Lakers' media day. "We're not talking about something that's political or racism or police brutality and things of that nature. We're talking about peoples' bodies and well-beings. I don't feel like, for me personally, that I should get involved in what other people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods. It would be me, talking about somebody, if they should take this job or not. Listen, you have to do what's best for you and your family, if they should relocate. You have to do what's best for your family.


Video: Multiple NBA Players Enter Health & Safety Protocol (Stadium)

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"I know what I did for me and my family. I know some of my friends and what they did for their families. But as far as speaking for everybody and their individualities and things that they want to do, I don't feel like that's — that's not my job."

MORE: Will Lakers use LeBron at center more often?

How long will LeBron James be out?

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said on Nov. 30 that he hopes James' absence is only something that will be "short-term," but it's unclear how long he will be sidelined.

The NBA mandates that a player who tests positive for COVID-19 must be away from his team for a minimum of 10 days or until he returns two negative PCR tests within a 24-hour period. If James is out for the full 10 days, he would miss a total of five games.

"It wasn't, like, a shocker for us. We just said we couldn't catch a break," Davis said. "We were just getting guys back, and then he's out for however many days. We don't know. It all depends on his situation. But you've still gotta find ways to win."

Lakers upcoming schedule 2021-22

Date Opponent Time (ET) / Result National TV
Nov. 30 at Kings W, 117-92
Dec. 3 vs. Clippers 10 p.m. ESPN
Dec. 7 vs. Celtics 10 p.m. TNT
Dec. 9 at Grizzlies 8 p.m.
Dec. 10 at Thunder 8 p.m.
Dec. 12 vs. Magic 9:30 p.m.
Dec. 15 at Mavericks 7:30 p.m. ESPN

LeBron James stats for 2021-22 season

  • 25.8 points per game
  • 5.2 rebounds per game
  • 6.8 assists per game
  • 1.8 steals per game
  • 3.7 turnovers per game
  • 36.9 minutes per game
  • 48.4 percent shooting
  • 34.4 percent 3-point shooting
  • 75.5 percent free throw shooting
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