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Rudy Gobert enters NBA health and safety protocols as Jazz injury report grows

The Jazz will be without at least four of their starting five when they face the Raptors Friday in Toronto.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, right, goes past Charlotte Hornets forward Jalen McDaniel.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, right, goes past Charlotte Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels during an NBA game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. Gobert has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

TORONTO — Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols Thursday, becoming the team’s second player to test positive for the coronavirus this season.

Joe Ingles became the Jazz’s first player of the season to be put on the health and safety protocol list on Tuesday after returning a positive test.

Gobert missed Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets after exhibiting symptoms, including a fever, but was listed as out due to a non-COVID-19 related illness after two rapid antigen COVID-19 tests came back negative. Gobert then returned a positive test after the team underwent PCR testing — which is required to cross the Canadian border — ahead of Utah’s Friday contest against the Toronto Raptors.

In addition to being without Gobert and Ingles, the Jazz will have even more of a skeleton crew on Friday with three other starters listed as out due to injury and rest.

Donovan Mitchell (lower back strain), Mike Conley (right knee injury recovery) and Bojan Bogdanovic (left middle finger sprain) will not play against the Raptors and did not travel to Toronto with the team.

Hassan Whiteside, who has missed three games with a concussion, remains questionable to play. Royce O’Neale (right patellar tendonitis), Jordan Clarkson (back tightness), and Rudy Gay (right heel injury recovery) are also listed as questionable on the Jazz’s latest injury report.

If you’re keeping score, this all means that the Jazz currently have six players that are fully available to play against the Raptors — Eric Paschall, Trent Forrest, Udoka Azubuike, Jared Butler, Elijah Hughes and Malik Fitts.

Free agent Danuel House is currently with the team and a 10-day deal with the team is expected to be made official and for House to be available to play against the Raptors. That would bring their available total to seven.

League rules require a team to have eight players available in order to play a game, otherwise the game would be postponed. That means the Jazz would need at least one of their players who are listed as questionable to be able to suit up against the Raptors for the game to be played.

Whiteside went through shootaround on Wednesday morning and was expected to return against Denver, but following shootaround, concussion-like symptoms came back so he was held out. Whiteside will likely go through another shootaround on Friday morning and see how he is feeling after.

In Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets, Azubuike made his first NBA start and return to action after being out for a month with a bad ankle sprain all in one fell swoop. Paschall,\ had missed four games (for the birth of his son) leading up to returning on Wednesday. Both players were crucial in helping the Jazz get a win against Denver, but they had a lot more help than they will against the Raptors.