Zach LaVine Placed in Health Protocols; Won't Travel to Tokyo with Team USA on Monday

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 19, 2021

United States' Zach LaVine plays against Australia during an exhibition basketball game Monday, July 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
AP Photo/John Locher

Team USA is dealing with another COVID-19 concern as the men's basketball competition in the Tokyo Olympics approaches.

USA Basketball announced that Zach LaVine was placed in health and safety protocols and was unable to fly to Japan with the team Monday. There is hope that he will eventually be able to join the Americans later in the week.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press initially reported the news, noting the Chicago Bulls star was in protocols for reasons "related to the coronavirus."

LaVine also addressed the development in a comment on his own Instragram post:

Mike McGraw @McGrawDHSports

<a href="https://t.co/mbGNEvzxlZ">pic.twitter.com/mbGNEvzxlZ</a>

LaVine just played in Sunday's exhibition win over Spain and helped lead the offense in the fourth quarter on his way to 13 points, two rebounds and two assists. Alongside Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant, he can hit from the outside, attack the basket, get out in transition and soar above the rim.

This is yet another setback for a team that lost its first two exhibition contests to Nigeria and Australia and has dealt with roster upheaval.

JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson replaced Bradley Beal and Kevin Love on the roster last week, and Jerami Grant was placed in health and safety protocols. However, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Sunday that Grant was "expected to be cleared from quarantine and will be available to travel with Team USA to Japan."

Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton have not yet joined the team because they are participating in the NBA Finals for the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks. That series could stretch to Thursday if the Suns win Tuesday's Game 6.

It has been anything but a smooth lead-up to the Games for the Americans, who are looking to win the gold medal for the fourth consecutive time.

Their first game of the Olympics is Sunday against France in Group A competition.

LaVine is coming off his first career All-Star season and averaged 27.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game for Chicago in 2020-21.