Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins, Pelicans assistant Jeff Bzdelik won’t attend restart due to COVID-19

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read

A pair of key NBA assistants will not be with their teams when play resumes this month at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, due to health concerns related to COVID-19.

Both Los Angeles Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins and New Orleans Pelicans assistant Jeff Bzdelik have opted to sit out the league restart as they are both at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Lionel Hollins not joining Lakers

Hollins, 66, was “red-flagged” due to an underlying health concern, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. He is also above the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s age threshold, which automatically puts him at a higher risk.

Hollins, per Haynes, was disappointed that he will not attend but knows it is the right decision.

The move, per the report, was not due to his age.

Hollins is in his first season on the bench with the Lakers, though has been coaching in the league since 1988. He’s served as an assistant for the Phoenix Suns, Vancouver Grizzlies and Memphis Grizzlies, while also briefly serving as the head coach for the Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets.

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“There are several members of our staff that we’re not going to be able to bring into the bubble that, quite frankly, we need in the bubble,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Thursday, via ESPN. “But the environment just doesn’t allow us to do that and that’s just part of the pandemic life and the situation we’re in.”

Jeff Bzdelik not joining Pelicans

Bzdelik’s agent confirmed to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday that he will not join New Orleans in Orlando. The decision was reportedly made after Bzdelik consulted with team physicians.

The 67-year-old is also above the CDC’s age threshold for an increased risk.

Bzdelik is in his first season with the Pelicans, and has also been coaching in the league since 1988. He’s served as an assistant for the Washington Bullets, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets, and had a three-year stint leading the Denver Nuggets from 2002-05.

A decision has not yet been made about Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry.

Gentry is one of three coaches in the league older than 65, along with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, 71, and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, 69.

"My plan right now is to be in Orlando, and I'm looking forward to it, really,” Gentry said Monday, via ESPN. “I think as the season was put on hiatus we were playing really good basketball, and hopefully we can get back to that. That's why I'm not treating it like a training camp, I'm treating it like picking up where we left off when the season went on hiatus."

Both Bzdelik and Hollins are expected to continue helping their respective teams during the restart remotely.

There were more than 2.8 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and nearly 130,000 deaths attributed to it. The country recorded more than 50,500 confirmed new cases on Thursday alone, a single-day record.

Cases are surging in Florida, too. The state had more than 178,000 confirmed cases as of Friday afternoon, and recorded more than 10,000 new cases on Thursday alone — a single-day record. Orange County, where Disney World is, had more than 12,000 cases.

The season is scheduled to resume play on July 30.

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