The 11 Los Angeles Lakers who were members of last season’s NBA championship team will receive their championship rings and a banner marking their record-equaling 17th title will be unveiled before Tuesday evening’s season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
The Lakers announced on Nov. 11 that games at Staples Center will be played without fans until further notice, following “the guidance of state and local health officials.”
The NBA has developed a 150-page plus document of protocols for teams to follow in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The protocols were developed in consultation with infectious disease specialists and public health authorities and based on the core principles developed in connection with the restart of last season.
They also include subjects the league did not have to deal with when games were played in a “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida, such as air travel.
The protocols spell out that when a positive test is confirmed among a player or other covered personnel, that individual immediately enters isolation. He or she is allowed to leave isolation following two negative tests, 24 hours apart, or 10 days from either the first positive test or the disappearance of symptoms, if any.
There are five newcomers on the Lakers’ 16-player roster. Center Marc Gasol, forward-center Montrezl Harrell and guard Wesley Matthews were signed as free agents during the offseason and guard Dennis Schroder and forward Alfonzo McKinnie were acquired in trades.
Two players who were with the Lakers during the resumption of the 2019-20 regular season and playoffs left the team via free agency: center Dwight Howard and guard Rajon Rondo. Two players were traded, guard Danny Green and center JaVale McGee, and two remain unsigned, JR Smith and Dion Waiters.
The 2020-21 season opener comes 71 days after the Lakers’ 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat on Oct. 11 to win the championship, the shortest offseason of the four major men’s professional sports leagues in the United States.
The Lakers opened training camp Dec. 1 and played the first of four preseason games, all victories, Dec. 11.
“I don’t think we’re as ready as we’d like to be,” coach Frank Vogel told reporters Monday. “The short off-season and a condensed preseason has us in a place where we’re probably going to be still figuring things out the first month or so of the season. We’ll probably have some ugly nights along the way, some ugly moments, and that’s to be expected and that’s OK. We have a good team here, a great group of guys that are willing to come in and sacrifice to win a championship.”
The ring ceremony is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. and the game at 7 p.m. Both will be televised by TNT.
The game marks the debut of Tyronn Lue as the Clippers’ coach succeeding Doc Rivers, who reached what the team described as a “mutual decision” with chairman Steve Ballmer to step down as coach after seven seasons.
Lue was an assistant coach with the Clippers last season when they lost to the Denver Nuggets in a seven-game Western Conference semifinal series after taking a three games to one lead.
Lue coached the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2016-18, guiding them to three NBA Finals appearances including a championship in 2016.
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