Russell Westbrook dribbling

Dec 10, 2021; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) dribbles the ball down the court against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first quarter at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

  • Five Los Angeles Lakers players, including Russell Westbrook, in COVID health and safety protocols
  • Zion Williamson received a shot to his injured foot, out another 4-6 weeks
  • The projected lineups and NBA injury reports for all eight games can be found below

Could the biggest threat to the NBA title again be COVID?

If the latest outbreak spinning out across the league picks up more steam, it’s definitely a conversation the league will have to have.

There have now been more than 60 cases of COVID-19 this season, but almost all of the cases have arisen in December. As of late Thursday night, the total this month was 47.

The latest notable stars to get felled include Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, as well as teammate Avery Bradley.  Sacramento Kings’ star De’Aaron Fox has also been ruled out for the foreseeable future.

Bobby Portis was helping to solidify Milwaukee’s frontcourt, but he’s down now too, while LaMelo Ball’s status is up in the air for Friday against the Trail Blazers as he steps out of protocol.

Let’s run down the injury report for Friday’s 8-game slate to get your bet card ready.

NBA Injury News – December 17

  • [UPDATE 7:30pm ET] Kings guard De’Aaron Fox has entered COVID health and safety protocols
  • [UPDATE 4:30pm ET] Lakers guards Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley enter COVID protocols
  • [UPDATE 12:59pm ET ] Pelicans’ F Zion Williamson received shot in injured foot, will be re-evaluated in 4-6 weeks
  • Jimmy Butler (back) ruled out Friday vs Magic

December 17 NBA Projected Starting Lineups

Heat vs Magic Projected Lineups

Kyle Lowry PG Cole Anthony
Duncan Robinson SG Gary Harris
Max Strus SG / SF Franz Wagner
P.J. Tucker PF Wendell Carter Jr.
Dewayne Dedmon C Mo Bamba

Joining Butler on the sideline includes wing Caleb Marton (COVID) and Markieff Morris (neck). Tyler Herro is dealing with a quad injury, and he’s questionable against the Magic, as is big man Omer Yurtseven, dealing with a back injury.

Among the newest injuries for Orlando are three current starters. Gary Harris (hamstring), Mo Bamba (ankle) and Cole Anthony (ankle) are all day-to-day, and questionable against the Heat.

Nuggets vs Hawks Projected Lineups

Monte Morris PG Trae Young
Will Barton SG Kevin Huerter
Aaron Gordon SG / SF  Timothe Luwau-Cabarrot
Jeff Green PF John Collins
Nikola Jokic C  Clint Capela

The injury woes continue for the Nuggets, who’ve lost Michael Porter Jr (back) for the year, while Jamal Murray (knee) has no timetable for his return. Markus Howard (knee) and JaMychal Green (ankle) have already been ruled out and Austin Rivers (COVID) is considered a game-time decision.

Atlanta is still thin on the wings, as De’Andre Hunter (wrist), and Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) are out at least until the new year. Solomon Hill is done for the year with a hamstring injury.  Forward Onyeka Okongwu (personal) will be a game-time decision.

Warriors vs Celtics Projected Lineups

Steph Curry PG Marcus Smart
Jordan Poole SG Jaylen Brown
Andrew Wiggins SG / SF Jayson Tatum
Draymond Green PF Al Horford
Kevon Looney C Robert Williams

Aside from awaiting the return of Klay Thompson and James Wiseman, the Warriors are healthy. Boston will be without Jabari Parker (COVID), expected out until Christmas day, while Bruno Fernando (back) will be a game-time decision.

Bucks vs Pelicans  Projected Lineups

Jrue Holiday PG Devonte’ Graham
Grayson Allen SG Brandon Ingram
Pat Connaughton SG / SF Josh Hart
Sandro Mamukelashvili PF Herbert Jones
DeMarcus Cousins C Jonas Valanciunas

The Bucks injury list is long and prominent. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, Wes Matthews and Donte DiVincenzo are all sitting due to COVID health and safety protocols.

All-star Khris Middleton (knee) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (calf) will be game-time decisions.

Zion’s foot injury has likely turned this into a lost season, and calls for him to be shut down could be louder if he’s not near 100 per cent. Forward Daulton Hommes has a lower leg injury, and his out for Friday.

Spurs vs Jazz Projected Lineups

Dejounte Murray PG Mike Conley
Derrick White SG Donovan Mitchell
Doug McDermott SG / SF Bojan Bogdanovic
Keldon Johnson PF Royce O’Neale
Jakob Poelt C Rudy Gobert

Wing Lonnie Walker IV has been battling a non-COVID illness, and he’ll be a game-time decision. Forward Zach Collins is still dealing with an ankle injury, and won’t be back around the new year.

The Jazz are relatively healthy, with Jared Butler (knee) day-to-day, while Udoka Azubuike (knee) will be out until at least February 1.

Lakers vs Timberwolves Projected Lineups

Rajon Rondo PG Patrick Beverley
Austin Reaves SG D’Angelo Russell
Wayne Ellington SG / SF Anthony Edwards
LeBron James PF Jarred Vanderbilt
Anthony Davis C Karl-Anthony Towns

COVID has grounded five Lakers: Westbrook, Bradley, Malik Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker and Dwight Howard. LA’s superstars showed up on the injured list too, as LeBron James (abdomen) and Anthony Davis (knee) are day-to-day. They will be game-time decisions.

The Timberwolves have no players on the injury report.

Hornets vs Trail Blazers Projected Lineups

Terry Rozier PG Damian Lillard
 Cody Martin SG Nassir Little
Gordon Hayward SG / SF Norman Powell
Miles Bridges PF Larry Nance Jr
Mason Plumlee C Jusuf Nurkic

LaMelo Ball is eligible to return to the Hornets from COVID protocols, but is listed as questionable for Friday. Ish Smith, also off COVID, has been sent to the G League’s Greensboro Swarm.

Portland’s Dennis Smith Jr (knee) and Tony Snell (personal), are day-to-day, while CJ McCollum (chest) and Cody Zeller (kneecap) are both out until at least December 27.

Grizzlies vs Kings Projected Lineups

Tyus Jones PG Davion Mitchell
Desmond Bane SG Buddy Hield
Dillon Brooks SG / SF Harrison Barnes
Jaren Jackson Jr. PF Chimezie Metu
Steven Adams C Alex Len

Memphis awaits the return of Ja Morant, who’s dealt with COVID while recovering from a knee injury. He’s expected back the second week of January. Sam Merrill is out with an ankle injury while Brandon Clarke (knee) and Ziaire Williams (ankle) will be game-time decisions.

Along with Fox, guard Tyrese Haliburton has been placed on the injured list with an undisclosed ailment. Guard Terrence Davis and forward Marvin Bagley III are both out, in COVID protocols. Center Richaun Holmes is still day-to-day with an eye injury.

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Eric Rosales

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