By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer
LeBron James has been placed in NBA health and safety protocols and was ruled out for the Los Angeles Lakers game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
Such a move almost certainly means one of two things: that James, who said earlier this season that he was vaccinated, either tested positive for COVID-19 or had an inconclusive result.
If James were positive, he would likely consider a minimum of 10 days away from the Lakers, unless he returns two negative PCR tests in a 24-hour period.
The news that he was running out of time came the same day the NBA underscored its previous recommendation, echoed by the National Basketball Players Association, that coaches and vaccinated players be reminded as soon as possible.
The NBA, in a note obtained by the Associated Press, also told its teams on Tuesday that it had documented 34 cases in which a fully vaccinated player, coach or staff member had a groundbreaking case of COVID-19. The league said about 97% of players are fully vaccinated, with Kyrie Irving of Brooklyn – who has not played this season due to his status – among the exceptions.
Other NBA stars have already missed several games this season after testing positive, including Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid – who just missed three weeks while battling the virus.
Tuesday’s game marks James ’12th absence in the Lakers’ first 23 games this season. He missed 10 games with injuries and another because of the first NBA suspension in his 19-year career.
He’s averaging 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists this season. If he is absent for 10 days, he would miss at least four games.
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