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Jonas Valanciunas enters health and safety protocols

The Pelicans center will be sidelined vs. Milwaukee after entering the league’s COVID protocols.

Cleveland Cavaliers v New Orleans Pelicans
Jonas Valanciunas of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts after scoring during the fourth quarter of a NBA game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Smoothie King Center on December 28, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The New Orleans Pelicans won the game 108 - 104.
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans have placed Jonas Valanciunas in the league’s health and safety protocols, ruling him out for Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Valanciunas has been one of the few bright spots for the Pelicans this season, averaging 18.5 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. He was not expected to be a perfect fit for this roster alongside Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, but has had to take on a bigger role as injuries decimate New Orleans.

The big man will be of interest around the trade deadline, with a lot of teams in a holding pattern given the current standings. Look for contending teams without a proven big man, like the Bucks or Golden State Warriors, to explore the possibility of adding Valanciunas to the team.

The NBA also modified the league’s protocols to allow players to return after five days and lower cycle transmission levels, so there’s a good chance Valanciunas could come back relatively soon.