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Report: LeBron James already clears health and safety protocols [UPDATE]

The Lakers star is out of health and safety protocols after testing positive a few days ago, but registering multiple negative tests the past 48 hours.

Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers
 LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers walks off the court after the game against the Detroit Pistons on November 28, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Update, Dec. 2 — LeBron James has cleared health and safety protocols after registering two negative tests in the past 48 hours, Shams Charania reported on Thursday. James had tested positive a few days ago. James is cleared to return to the lineup Friday vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Los Angeles Lakers will be without LeBron James for Tuesday’s game against the Kings as he enters the league’s health and safety protocols. It’s not yet known whether James tested positive for COVID or if he was deemed a close contact. That will determine how long he will be out. According to his comments before the season, James is vaccinated.

This is obviously tough news for the Lakers, who are mired in a rut early in the season. This was supposed to be a year where the team fulfilled championship expectations but right now, the Lakers are lagging behind the Warriors, Suns and Jazz in the West.

James was previously sidelined for eight games due to an abdominal strain, returning to action November 19 against the Celtics. He did miss a game against the Knicks due to a suspension after getting ejected from a previous game against the Pistons, but James has typically been reliable in his career when it comes to availability. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, James is expected to miss several games due to entering health and safety protocols.

The Lakers currently sit seventh in the West at 11-11 and are entering a manageable stretch of their schedule. Even if James is sidelined, Los Angeles should be able to navigate the next eight games without much trouble. Even at .500, the Lakers have not completely reached a point of no return with only a quarter of the season gone. Assuming James doesn’t miss too much time, the team can start picking up steam heading into 2022.