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Lakers' Russell Westbrook clears COVID-19 protocols; Isaiah Thomas signed

Lakers' Russell Westbrook clears COVID-19 protocols; Isaiah Thomas signed
Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (C), shown Nov. 30, 2021, was initially placed in the league's protocols after the Lakers' overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook was available for Friday night's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves after he tested out of the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Westbrook flew from Dallas to Minneapolis after the testing, according to ESPN, and he was in the starting lineup against the T-Wolves at Target Center.

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The 33-year-old Westbrook was placed in the league's COVID-19 protocols after the Lakers' 107-104 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. Under the NBA's protocols, a player must produce two negative tests 24 hours apart to be cleared to return.

"It's craziness," Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters before Friday's game when asked about players going in and out of the protocols. "I don't know what the answer is but it's not like anything I've seen before or dealt with before as a coach -- coming into games and guys just in and out of the lineups like this."

RELATED Lakers add guards Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley to COVID-19 protocols

Also Friday, the Lakers signed veteran guard Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract. Thomas joins the Lakers' roster under the hardship exemption, which allows a team to exceed the 15-player maximum if certain requirements are met.

The Lakers are without multiple players because of injuries and the league's COVID-19 protocols, including Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard, Kendrick Nunn and Talen Horton-Tucker. Malik Monk was cleared to join the team for Friday's game, but ultimately he was unable to play.

RELATED Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving returning to team for road games

The 32-year-old Thomas, who suited up Friday in Minnesota, last played in the NBA during the 2020-21 campaign while on a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. He dropped 42 points in his G League debut Wednesday.

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