The Los Angeles Lakers have already had to replace one of their key role players in Avery Bradley as he will not join the team in Orlando due to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) and health of his 6-year-old son.
Meanwhile, Dwight Howard is still undecided on whether or not he’ll be joining, a decision he has just under one week to make.
The Lakers will be one of the last teams to arrive in the Walt Disney World bubble, with the NBA scheduling them to make their trip on July 9. Howard likely has until then to decide, as the Lakers have already said they have no plans to replace him if he opts out.
For the time being, Howard has remained at home with his family in Georgia, but has satisfied all of the NBA’s testing and safety protocols, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Howard is currently with his family in Georgia, where he is satisfying the NBA’s home quarantine and testing protocol required of all players who will participate in Orlando, a league source told ESPN.
For safety purposes, Howard would likely need to fly to Orlando directly and commit himself to a multi-day quarantine while awaiting test results. Flying commercial to L.A. then traveling with the team to Orlando puts other players at risk on the off chance Howard would get infected on that flight.
Luckily, games do not begin until July 30, meaning Howard would have plenty of time to do a five-day quarantine that would be accompanied with two consecutive negative tests for the virus. It’s far from ideal, but it would be the safest route given how close it is to that July 9 date.
Howard could also decide to stay home in Georgia and not join the Lakers on their quest for the franchise’s first championship in 10 years. While fans and players would certainly miss his energy off the bench and his rim protecting abilities, everyone would hopefully understand the decision he’d be making.
Regardless of what happens with Howard in the next week, the Lakers will continue to prepare for Orlando. If he decides to join, then he’ll slide right back into his spot in the rotation. If he doesn’t, L.A. will look to replace from within, with Anthony Davis likely playing more center as a result.
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