Sources: Russ in protocol; Lakers to sign Thomas

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MINNEAPOLIS — Los Angeles Lakers guards Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley have entered into the league’s health and safety protocols, and the team plans to sign free agent Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract on Friday if granted a hardship exemption by the NBA, sources told ESPN on Thursday.

The hardship exemption was put into place by the league to allow a team to exceed the full 15-man roster limit if dealing with sickness or illness to at least four players simultaneously for a period of at least two weeks.

The Lakers now have five players — Westbrook, Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard and Malik Monk — that have entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols in the last 48 hours. Not to mention, L.A. has been without Trevor Ariza (ankle surgery) and Kendrick Nunn (bone bruise in his knee) since the preseason.

The Lakers started their three-game road trip through Dallas, Minneapolis and Dallas with a stirring 107-104 overtime win over the Mavericks on Wednesday.

Westbrook had 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in 42 minutes in Dallas.

Thomas, who played 17 games for the Lakers during the 2017-18 season, most recently played in the NBA on a 10-day contract for the New Orleans Pelicans last season and averaged 7.7 points on 33.3% shooting and 1.7 assists in three games. He just scored 42 points for the Grand Rapids Gold of the G League on Wednesday, showcasing his ability to still play.

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