Timberwolves Centre Rudy Gobert has been banned from Saturday’s game against Houston after enacting NBA health and safety protocols, Minnesota announced (via Twitter).
According to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link), Gobert was listed as doubtful (illness) for Friday’s loss to Milwaukee, but ended up playing 30 minutes into the game and is now in protocols, which isn’t a great situation for everyone involved. Gobert was famously the first known NBA player to test positive for COVID-19 in March 2020.
The league revised its COVID-related protocols over the summer and now requires testing for vaccinated players only if they show symptoms of the virus. Unvaccinated players should still be tested once a week. Players are subject to isolation measures after a positive test.
If Gobert registered a positive COVID-19 test, he must remain in the protocols for at least five days, unless he registers two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. A five-day absence would sideline him for games against the Knicks and Suns next week, in addition to tonight’s game, with a likely return to Memphis next Friday, assuming he is feeling better by then.
The Wolves have had a rocky start to the 2022/23 season after their blockbuster signing Gobert from Utah in July, currently holding a 4-5 record. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year individually was his normal productive self — averaging 12.6 points, a league best of 13.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in nine games (32.2 minutes) — but the starting line-up struggled offensively.
It was expected that there would be an acclimatization period after the Wolves traded two starters in the Gobert deal, and it turned out to be correct. Losing Gobert temporarily won’t help, but it’s worth noting that Minnesota started off slow last season and eventually made it to the playoffs after a wave of the second half.