The Lakers can’t seem to catch a break.
The Los Angeles Lakers got more bad health news on Monday as point guard is expected to miss an extended period of time after entering into the league’s COVID-induced health and safety protocols, head coach Frank Vogel announced.
It is unknown whether Schroder has contracted COVID-19 or if it’s a contact-tracing issue. It is also uncertain whether or not the point guard has gotten a vaccine. Schroder had previously missed four games in February when he went through the health and safety protocols due to contact tracing.
Schroder missed Sunday’s loss and Monday’s win and is expected to be out for at least 10-14 days overall. Based on what Vogel said, it seemed like Schroder had opted not to get the vaccine after the team had encouraged players to receive it.
“We definitely pointed out to our whole team the benefits of as many guys getting vaccinated as possible,” Vogel said. “And how there’s competitive advantages to it. There’s just, for lack of a better word, lifestyle advantages of doing it.
“We can do more team-oriented stuff if we reach 85% [vaccination rate]. All those types of things. Less testing. All those things were laid out very clearly for our guys and we showed all of them the benefits. But at the end of the day, like I said, it’s their own personal choice and we respect that.”
Lakers superstar LeBron James expressed exasperation after the team’s loss on Sunday night (he did not play on Monday night in the win) at the team’s inability to remain whole down the stretch. The lack of continuity in the games leading into what seems like it could be a tough playoff run for the Lakers could prove problematic.
“I think our team is predicated on health,” James said. “That is the No. 1 thing for our ballclub. We’re a team that we need to be healthy and we need to be full. And if it’s not one thing, it’s the other. And then we show up today and the starting point guard is not in the lineup. So it’s like another blow for us.
“That’s going to be the biggest thing for us down the stretch, more than the games that we’re playing. Just how healthy we’re going to be going into the stretch run.”
While the circumstances of Schroder’s absence remain unknown apart from the fact that he’s in the protocols, it certainly seems like those in the organization are scolding a player for not getting vaccinated and seemingly subsequently getting the virus. Associating so-called ‘lifestyle’ advantages with being vaccinated is a dangerous precedent to set.
The Lakers are just 1-5 this season when Schroder does not suit up, so right now is a pretty inopportune time to lose a player as important as that.
The Lakers have slid all the way down to sixth in the Western Conference while they were without LeBron and Anthony Davis, and now that they’re without Schroder and LeBron again (for a couple games, at least), it will be tough for them to avoid the play-in tournament.
Davis led the team to an upset victory over the red hot Denver Nuggets on Monday night, but the race is far from run. While they used to be the NBA odds on favorite to win the NBA title this season, they’ve fallen down that board as well, and perhaps rightfully so.
On sportsbook 10Bet, the Lakers have now dropped below the Brooklyn Nets on the table for odds to win the NBA championship, with +500 odds. The fact that there’s a chance that the King can still carry this team to the promised land is doubtless the reason they remain second and not far lower on that list. It’s tough to bet against LeBron James.
Schroder, for his part, will look to prepare himself so that he can return as soon as he’s allowed. The 27-year-old, who is set to hit the free market this summer, has been putting up 15.5 points, 5.8 dimes, and 3.5 rebounds a night alongside some All-NBA level defense through 59 games this season.
Alex Caruso has been starting in place of Schroder over the past two games, and will likely continue to do so. Another pesky defender, Caruso played well on Monday night, contributing 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, two triples, one steal, and one block while shooting 44 from the field.
Caruso has averaged 6.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.6 dimes, and 1.1 steals per game for the Lakers this season in a largely reserve role