The Los Angeles Lakers (16-13) expect guard Russell Westbrook to play against the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night.
Announced by The Athletic / Stadium’s Shams Charania, Westbrook has been cleared to play after Thursday entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Teammate Avery Bradley was also announced as an addition to the COVID watchlist on Thursday but has not been cleared yet.
Russell Westbrook is available to play tonight in Lakers-Timberwolves.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 17, 2021
In Westbrook’s case, it may be a matter of dealing with a false-positive result since the NBA allows players that enter protocols to supply two negative PCR tests, in the span of 24 hours, to return to team activities. Otherwise, a second positive result would keep the player sidelined for 10 days. Such was the case for LeBron James when additional PCR testing brought him back to the team ahead of the proposed COVID isolation period.
Unease over continued COVID cases within the Lakers arose when guard Malik Monk reportedly traveled with the team to Dallas Tuesday night despite receiving a positive diagnosis for COVID. Monk was alerted upon arrival and sent back to Los Angeles. Talen Horton-Tucker and Dwight Howard are other members currently in protocols for the Lakers.
Westbrook has been a bright spot for LA in their three-game winning streak — hoping to extend their run to four against the 13-15 Timberwolves. The 33-year-old is averaging 19.6 points, 8.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds on the season.
The Lakers are tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for the fifth seed in the Western Conference — the latter currently holding the tie-breaker.