Trevor Ariza is available to play for the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time this season. Unfortunately for the veteran swingman and his team, though, Ariza’s status is more a reflection of the Lakers’ increasingly dire COVID-19 straits than his readiness to re-debut in purple and gold.
The Lakers upgraded Ariza to questionable for Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He still won’t play for the first time this season, however, only set to be in uniform so Los Angeles has enough players available in case of emergency.
More context: Ariza will not play. He will be in uniform, however, because LAL is in need of able bodies in case of emergency. https://t.co/3AEYA1o5uG
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 17, 2021
The Lakers had previously listed Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker as out for Friday’s contest due to health-and-safety protocols. But the team just announced that Westbrook has been upgraded to available to play, ostensibly after multiple tests for COVID-19 came back negative.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will play without Anthony Edwards and Taurean Prince, both of whom entered into health-and-safety protocols on Friday morning.
Ariza, 36, signed a one-year deal with Los Angeles worth the veteran’s minimum in August. Earmarked as a potential starter and key rotation player alongside the team’s Big Three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Westbrook, he’s yet to play in 2021-22 while recovering from October surgery on his right ankle.
In late November, Ariza told reporters that he’d just begun running on his own and completing shooting drills, noting there was still no concrete timetable for his return. Shams Charania of The Athleticreported earlier this week that Ariza could return in “the next one-to-two weeks.”
Los Angeles, 16-13 this season, sits at sixth-place in the Western Conference after winning its last three games.