The San Antonio Spurs felt the absence of their starting center when Boban Marjanovic exploded for 17 points in their first game without him. They may have to get used to being undersized at the center position for at least a few more games.
Seemingly out of nowhere on Wednesday, the news broke that Jakob Poeltl would be entering health and safety protocols and is "expected to miss several games".
Fortunately, the team being vaccinated helps prevent a situation like last season, where contract tracing made several players unavailable for multiple games, effectively torpedoing the season.
So far, Poeltl has missed Wednesday's game against the Dallas Mavericks and will miss Friday's game in Orlando. Here's the upcoming schedule for the San Antonio Spurs.
Nov. 10 vs. Sacramento
Nov. 12 vs. Dallas
Nov. 14 @ Los Angeles Lakers
Nov. 16 @ LA Clippers
Nov. 18 @ Minnesota
When can we expect to see Jakob Poeltl return to the San Antonio Spurs?
Since it's uncertain whether or not Poeltl tested positive for COVID-19, the best we can do is estimate a general window for his return. This is what the NBA's guidelines say about contract tracing to a person who tested positive:
"Those who are fully vaccinated will not be required in most cases to quarantine, though will need seven days of testing. Unvaccinated players flagged by contact tracing will need to quarantine for seven days."
If Jakob is contract tracing and began on November 3rd, he could conceivably be done and ready to go by the Spurs' game against the Sacramento Kings on November 10th. Still, Charania's initial report says he is "expected to miss several games", which isn't encouraging. Of course, "several" is an ambiguous term and could mean anywhere from three or more.
In the case that Poeltl did test positive, this is what the NBA's guidelines say:
"Players, vaccinated or not, who return a positive or inconclusive test result again will be required to isolate immediately. It would likely be for 10 days if those test results are eventually confirmed as positive."
This would make Poeltl available on November 13th before the Spurs visit the Lakers on the 14th.
If I had to guess, I'd say the earliest we see Jakob back in the lineup is Friday, November 12th against the Dallas Mavericks. The Spurs would certainly need his presence against Dwight Powell and Marjanovic and will probably struggle to defend the paint again if he's not yet ready to go. A positive test could delay his return, though.
Poeltl was averaging career-highs in points (13.9) and rebounds (9.7) per game before being sidelined.