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Jazz add another center as Rudy Gobert enters league's COVID-19 protocols

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has entered the NBA's health and safety protocols, the team announced Thursday.

Gobert missed Wednesday's game with what was called a "non-COVID illness" after he returned two negative rapid tests; however, on Thursday, a PCR test came back positive for COVID-19.

Gobert joins teammate Joe Ingles in the COVID protocols. But Gobert and Ingles won't be the only Jazz players who will be out for Friday's game in Toronto.

Donovan Mitchell (lower back strain), Mike Conley (knee injury) and Bojan Bogdanovic (left middle finger strain) have also been ruled out against the Raptors and won't make the trip to Toronto. Instead, they will meet the team in Indiana for Saturday's game against the Pacers.

Royce O'Neale (right patellar tendonitis), Hassan Whiteside (concussion), Jordan Clarkson (lower back tightness) and Rudy Gay (right heel injury recovery) are all questionable for Fridays game, possibly making the Jazz even more shorthanded.

With so many players potentially out, the Jazz have signed another center to try and avoid a possible postponement. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was to first to report that Utah plans to sign Norvel Pelle to a 10-day hardship deal. Pelle is expected to be available Friday in Toronto.

Pelle, a 6-foot-10 center from Antigua and Barbuda, is fresh off a 10-day hardship deal with the Boston Celtics, but didn't play during his short stint in Boston. Pelle, 28, last got NBA minutes last season with the New York Knicks. He's appeared in 37 games since 2019.

Utah's other hardship signee, Danuel House Jr, is also expected to be available for Friday's game.

With Pelle and House on the team, the Jazz will have some wiggle room when it comes to having the league-mandatory eight available players. The Jazz now have eight players — Trent Forrest, Eric Paschall, Jared Butler, Elijah Hughes, Udoka Azubuike, Malik Fitts, House and Pelle — not listed on the injury report.

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