Chicago Bulls forward Derrick Jones Jr. entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Thursday, making him the fifth Bulls player sidelined during what has become a teamwide COVID-19 outbreak.
Jones joins DeMar DeRozan, Matt Thomas, Coby White and Javonte Green all entering the league’s protocols in a nine-day span. White and Green are the only two positives confirmed by the team. Players must remain in isolation for at least 10 days or until they return two negative PCR tests in a 24-hour period.
In addition to the five players sidelined by the outbreak, the Bulls are missing forward Patrick Williams (wrist) and guard Alex Caruso (hamstring), which made the team eligible to sign a 16th player through the NBA’s hardship exception.
Chicago announced Thursday it signed guard Stanley Johnson to a 10-day contract. Johnson, who was with the Bulls during training camp, is expected to meet the team in Miami before Saturday’s game against the Heat. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the Bulls will still be eligible to add another player via hardship exception because of Jones’ positive test.
With the addition of Johnson, the Bulls will have 11 players eligible to play in addition to Caruso, who coach Billy Donovan was hopeful could return as soon as Saturday night. The Bulls then won’t play again until Tuesday and have only four games in the following 10 days. So, although the team has been testing players multiple times per day and have altered their practice and shootaround schedules, Donovan said earlier in the week that he did not believe the Bulls were in jeopardy of having games postponed.
“I have not heard anything along those lines,” Donovan said Monday on the possibility of games being postponed. “I think the biggest question that comes up is if you have something that runs through a team and you have multiple players that are not able to compete, is there enough players for the team to go out there and function.
“I do think the most important thing for our league is the health and safety of all the players. I think our guys have done a good job of following and doing what we’re asked to be done from the league and from the medical side. It’s just, I think, this time of year. There’s certainly been a spike in this, but I have not heard anything as it relates to them going into a situation of shutting down the league for a period of time. I have not heard that.”