Pelicans big man Jonas Valanciunas is now in health and safety protocols.— Brett Siegel (@BrettSiegelNBA) December 31, 2021
Valanciunas has been one of the few bright spots for the Pelicans this season, averaging 18.5 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. He was not expected to be a perfect fit for this roster alongside Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, but has had to take on a bigger role as injuries decimate New Orleans.
The big man will be of interest around the trade deadline, with a lot of teams in a holding pattern given the current standings. Look for contending teams without a proven big man, like the Bucks or Golden State Warriors, to explore the possibility of adding Valanciunas to the team.
The NBA also modified the league’s protocols to allow players to return after five days and lower cycle transmission levels, so there’s a good chance Valanciunas could come back relatively soon.