Chicago Bulls hoping to return to practice court in next few days after COVID stoppage


CHICAGO — Bulls coach Billy Donovan said he was hopeful that the team would be cleared by the NBA to resume activities in the next few days, giving the Bulls some practice time before they host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

The Bulls have not gathered as a team since Monday morning, just before the league postponed their two games this week amid a COVID-19 outbreak that had landed 10 players in health and safety protocols.

The team hasn’t recorded any new cases of COVID-19 on the roster or coaching staff following the NBA’s decision to postpone Tuesday’s home game against the Detroit Pistons and Thursday’s road game against the Toronto Raptors.

Chicago’s practice facility has been largely dormant this week except for players shuffling in for daily COVID-19 testing or to complete rehab assignments.

“We haven’t been able to do anything at all,” Donovan said during a Zoom call with reporters on Thursday. “Right when [the games were postponed], the league came out with some protocols that we needed to follow.

“In terms of the activities of being able to come in here, get together as a team, work out as a team, do those kinds of things, we haven’t been able to do anything. … I’m hopeful the league will give us some time here, Friday and Saturday, to get the group back together that would be available to play on Sunday.”

Two players — Coby White and Javonte Green — have cleared protocols and have been in the team facility this week for individual workouts following their isolation period. Both should be eligible for Sunday’s game. DeMar DeRozan, Derrick Jones Jr. and Matt Thomas will have cleared their 10-day isolation period by Sunday, but Donovan said they would be day-to-day before returning to the court.

And Donovan confirmed that the players who tested positive most recently — such as Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Troy Brown Jr. and Alize Johnson — would all be out until after Christmas.

Players who test positive are required to miss at least 10 days unless they return multiple negative tests in a 24-hour window.

“We’ve had a lot of guys quite honestly that you would consider asymptomatic, where they have not really experienced any illness or sickness, but I still think there’s a period where they’ve got to deal with the medical staff and the league in terms of what they can and cannot do,” Donovan said.

The Bulls are hopeful they are on the other side of this team outbreak that depleted their roster since Dec. 1, when White tested positive. The team should have at least 10 players available for Sunday’s game, including White and Green.

Donovan was encouraged that a break in action this week will rest players that were logging a lot of minutes to pick up the slack.

The Bulls were fully vaccinated as a team as of early November. And while some players have received booster shots, Donovan declined to get into specifics as to how many.

The NBA ramped up testing protocols for teams after the Thanksgiving holiday, and the Bulls have been testing daily since their first positive was triggered. However, the team also felt it was being put at a competitive disadvantage with such a large portion of its roster sidelined.

“I think the league is trying to do everything it can possibly do to play games and also keep teams safe and healthy,” Donovan said. “I don’t know what the right number is in order to say this team should play or this team shouldn’t play. Certainly we got hit really hard with this and we lost a lot of players. Other teams have been hit a little bit, but not as much. I’ve always said this, when you lose key players off your team, it definitely impacts you.

“With the surge that’s going on right now, I think the league is probably in the process of figuring out how they’re going to go about testing everybody else in the league. And certainly when you do more testing like that, you’re going to come across more guys that are going to test positive.”

As of Thursday morning, 60 players — including 43 in December — have entered the protocols this season.

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