The Los Angeles Lakers are in a tailspin right now, having lost six of their last seven games to slide into a tie for the dreaded 7-seed in the West. That the defending champs could find themselves in the play-in would’ve been rather unfathomable at the start of the season, but injuries to their best players have kept them from being able to separate from the pack in the West.
As they enter a stretch run filled with some very important games, they are going to do so without the services of at least one of their key players. While LeBron James’ sore ankle is one concern, looming just as large is the absence of Dennis Schröder, who missed Sunday’s loss to Toronto after being entered into the NBA’s health and safety protocols. On Monday, Shams Charania and Bill Oram of The Athletic reported that Schröder will be out 10-14 days, which means there’s a very real possibility that the Lakers will be without their starting point guard for the rest of the regular season.
Lakers guard Dennis Schroder is expected to miss 10-to-14 days due to health and safety protocols, sources tell me and @billoram. Schroder entered protocols on Sunday.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 3, 2021
Given the longer timetable, this would suggest a positive test from Schröder and the first concern is with his health and the hope that he will avoid any serious or longterm complications from COVID-19 — players like Jayson Tatum and Evan Fournier have spoken about the difficulties of returning to the court after battling the virus and the impact it has on their conditioning longterm. For the Lakers, it obviously puts them in a difficult position, as Schröder is one of the most difficult to replace players on a roster that is simply light on playmakers and ball-handlers.
The onus would normally fall on LeBron James to take over point guard duties more, but with his ankle still giving him some issues, adding more on-ball work seems like a less than ideal situation. Alex Caruso got his first start of the season on Sunday, but running the offense and orchestrating everything on that end is not the area he excels in. Schröder’s return will be determined by when he begins producing negative tests and also how he’s feeling physically, but with the play-in looming on May 18, the Lakers are finding themselves in a precarious position at the time of year they want to be finding their stride.