LeBron James has been placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and was ruled out for the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

Such a move almost certainly means one of two things: that James, who said earlier this season that he is vaccinated, either tested positive for COVID-19 or had an inconclusive result.

A person with knowledge of the situation said the Lakers are preparing for James to miss multiple games. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because neither the team nor James had revealed that detail publicly. ESPN previously reported that James is “expected” to miss several games.

If James tested positive, he would likely be looking at a minimum of 10 days away from the Lakers unless he returns two negative PCR tests in a 24-hour span.

The Lakers learned of James’ situation Tuesday morning, Coach Frank Vogel said, and arranged for transportation to take him back to Los Angeles from Sacramento.

Vogel would not say if James was exhibiting any symptoms.

The news that James is missing time came on the same day the NBA underscored its previous recommendation, echoed by the National Basketball Players Association, that coaches and players who are vaccinated receive a booster shot as soon as possible.

The NBA, in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, also told its teams Tuesday that it has documented 34 cases in which a fully vaccinated player, coach or staffer had a breakthrough case of COVID-19. The league has said about 97% of players are fully vaccinated, with Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving – who has not played this season because of his status – among the exceptions.

Other NBA stars have already missed multiple games this season after testing positive, including Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid – who just missed three weeks while dealing with the virus.

Tuesday’s game marks James’ 12th absence in the Lakers’ first 23 games this season. He missed 10 games because of injuries and another because of the first NBA suspension of his 19-year career.

He’s averaging 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists this season. If he is out for 10 days, he would miss at least four games.

James is the 17th player known to have entered the league’s health and safety protocols since the start of the regular season. That doesn’t include some players who missed time during training camp and the preseason.

BUCKS: DeMarcus Cousins will attempt to boost a Milwaukee Bucks frontcourt that’s missing injured center Brook Lopez.

The Bucks announced they have signed Cousins, a four-time All-Star who earned second-team all-NBA honors in 2015 and 2016.

The Bucks (13-8) have won seven consecutive games but have been dealing with frontcourt issues due to the absence of Lopez, who hasn’t played since a season-opening victory over the Brooklyn Nets because of a back injury.

Cousins should help in that regard, even if the 31-year-old forward no longer is in All-Star form.

He played a combined 41 games with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers last season while averaging 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 17.4 minutes.

In other moves, the Bucks signed Javonte Smart to a two-way contract and requested waivers on Justin Robinson.

TUESDAY’S GAMES

NETS 112, KNICKS 100: James Harden and Kevin Durant carried Brooklyn all the way until James Johnson made two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to give the Nets a win at home.

Harden had 34 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Durant heated up after a slow start to finish with 27 points and nine assists. He had 11 points in the final 5:45, but the Knicks sent a second defender to force him to give the ball up on the last possession.

The ball went to Johnson, who was fouled in the lane and made the free throws for the final points.

Alec Burks scored a season-high 25 points in his new role as the Knicks’ starting point guard. Julius Randle added 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

GRIZZLIES 98, RAPTORS 91: Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 25 points, Desmond Bane had 23 and Dillon Brooks 17 as visiting Memphis won back-to-back games, beating struggling Toronto.

Memphis won again without leading scorer Ja Morant, who sat for the second game because of a sprained left knee. Morant is expected to miss at least two weeks. Memphis was coming off a win over Sacramento on Sunday.

Bane made five 3-pointers and Jackson had four for the Grizzlies, who never trailed and led by as many as 17 points.

Pascal Siakam scored 20 points, Scottie Barnes had 19 and Fred VanVleet 15 as the Raptors lost their third straight. Toronto has lost five straight home games.

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