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Lakers’ Marc Gasol says adapting is key to new COVID-19 protocols

Rockets forward P.J. Tucker tries to steal the ball from Lakers center Marc Gasol on Tuesday night in Houston.
(Troy Taormina / Associated Press)

Lakers center Marc Gasol was still trying to process the new health and safety protocols the NBA and players’ union agreed to for the next two weeks to help the league navigate through a wave of game postponements because of COVID-19.

The NBA has postponed five games since Sunday due to the increased positive tests and contact tracing.

“You just keep adapting with the best interest of having a healthy season and everybody being able to play so you understand that all the rules that are put in [place] are for the best interest of everyone and having health in mind,” Gasol said before scoring five points during the Lakers’ 117-100 win over Houston on Tuesday night. “So you just keep adapting, doing the best you can as a team. I think likely, knock on wood, we’ve been very fortunate so far and we can control only what we control.”

The league is mandating players and team staff to follow strict regulations while in home markets, prohibiting them to leave their residences except for “team-related activities at the team facility or arena, exercise outside, or [to] perform essential activities, or as a result of extraordinary circumstances.”

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Also, anyone in regular household contact with players or staff must be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.

While on the road, players are no longer allowed to have guests inside their hotel rooms. Players had been allowed up to two family members or close friends. Players can also no longer dine at league-approved restaurants and are forbidden from contact with nonteam guests at hotels.

Aside from Alex Caruso missing time because of contact tracing, the Lakers have kept their team intact during the COVID-19 pandemic. They know that could change.

Pregame locker-room meetings must be 10 minutes or less, with players prohibited from pregame handshakes outside of “elbow and fist bumps.” Players also must wear face masks on the bench, although there are “cool-down chairs” 12 feet away from the bench where players who just checked out aren’t required to wear masks.

“I don’t know which one is the worst or the toughest or the most restrictive. I don’t know which one,” Gasol said. “I think having a mask, obviously, all the time while you’re working out pregame in the weight room and stuff like that, it’s pretty restrictive. It’s not ideal to work out with your mask on outside of the court.

“Obviously you got to have the mask every time besides when you’re on the court, so you do a lot of stuff around that that’s not ideal. But like I said, it’s for the best of everyone. We understand that.”

If a team has a positive case, it can require up to five consecutive days of “twice-per-day, lab-based testing, in addition to daily point-of-care testing.”

The health and safety measures could be implemented longer than two weeks if necessary.

Gasol said the Lakers “make sure that we’re following protocols,” but things change when players go home.

“It’s not like you go home and you lock yourself in a closet,” he said. “You have family. They get to move around a little bit more. Even though everything is closed in L.A., they get to go to the grocery store, or you get stuff delivered at home or your kids play outside and whatnot. So, you try to do as best as possible and hope for the best outcome.”

Staff writer Dan Woike contributed to this report.


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