Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins deemed ‘high risk,’ won’t travel to Orlando

Assistant coach Lionel Hollins
Assistant coach Lionel Hollins will not join the Lakers in Orlando, Fla., for the restart of the season.
(Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

Lakers assistant coach Lionel Hollins was “deemed a higher-risk individual due to underlying medical conditions” and will not join the rest of the staff in Orlando, Fla., for the restart of the NBA season, a team official said Friday.

The official, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said Hollins, 66, would continue to be an “essential member” on the staff for Lakers coach Frank Vogel and would be “participating remotely.”

When Hollins was told the news by doctors as the Lakers started their workouts Wednesday, he “understood and was OK with things,” said one person, who also was not authorized to speak publicly. The decision had nothing to do with his age, the source said.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis and coach Frank Vogel are confident the Lakers can continue their dominant play and a run at the NBA title despite long break.

The Lakers are scheduled to leave for Orlando on Thursday for games that will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Dudley still a leader

The Lakers signed Jared Dudley to be a leader in the locker room, serving as a mentor to young players like Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso and as a voice of reason for stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

That never changed while the Lakers waited for the NBA to resume play.

If anything, during group chats the team has had over the last four months, Dudley has increased his role.

“I would say Dudley and ‘Bron have been the two most vocal,” Caruso said on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday. “That’s pretty normal for them as far as being outgoing, outspoken, making sure we’re all on the same page. Those are two guys that have been in the league many, many years so they kind of understand what it takes to have a chemistry of a tight-knit group. Obviously three months, four months away from each other, it’s hard to keep that going. But I think they’ve done a great job of keeping everybody connected.”

A total of 25 NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19 as the league gets set to restart its season in Orlando, Fla., this month under strict protocols.

Dudley, who turns 35 next Friday, is a 13-year veteran who views it as his responsibility to provide wisdom and insight to all his teammates at this stage of his career.


“I would just say I’m a little more vocal on talking to one through 15,” Dudley said Friday during a video conference chat with reporters after his workout at the team’s practice facility. “That’s my job. I’ve been in this league for a long time and I’ve mentored a lot of young players in [Phoenix Suns guard Devin] Booker and [Washington Wizards guard] John Wall and [Milwaukee Bucks star] Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. ... So me being like — I’m one of the rare vets that can speak to one through 15, because I’ve been around guys like Shaq [O’Neal] and I’ve been around guys who DNP [did not play], so I’ve been through it all.”

Dudley has played in 40 games this seasonand averaged just 1.5 points in 7.8 minutes. But he still has had an impact on the team.

“He has really impacted our team’s togetherness and chemistry and, quite frankly, brought a great deal of leadership to make sure that we’re all going about our business the right way and having the right attitude and doing things together,” Vogel said. “Just strengthening that chemistry and togetherness, which has really helped us to this point. So I would call Jared Dudley a star in his role, from the standpoint of doing all those types of things.”