Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against Houston after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Minnesota announced (via Twitter).
According to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link), Gobert was listed as questionable (illness) for Friday’s loss to Milwaukee, but wound up playing 30 minutes in the game and is now in the protocols, which isn’t a great situation for anyone 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 when they show symptoms of the virus. Unvaccinated players still must be tested once per week. Players are subject to isolation measures after a positive test.
If Gobert registered a positive COVID-19 test, he’ll have to remain in the protocols for at least five days unless he records two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. A five-day absence would sideline him for games next week against the Knicks and Suns in addition to tonight’s contest, with a probable return next Friday at Memphis, assuming he’s feeling better by then.
The Wolves have had a rocky start to the 2022/23 season after their blockbuster trade to acquire Gobert from Utah in July, currently sitting with a 4-5 record. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has been his normal productive self individually — he’s averaging 12.6 points, a league-best 13.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in nine games (32.2 minutes) — but the starting lineup has struggled offensively.
It was expected that there would be an acclimation period after the Wolves traded two starters in the Gobert deal, and that’s proven to be accurate. Losing Gobert temporarily certainly won’t help, but it’s worth noting that Minnesota started last season slowly and wound up making the playoffs after a second-half surge.