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.
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.