While the Chicago Bulls might be closer to the end of their outbreak than the beginning, the obstacles they face have not gone anywhere.
Coby White and Javonte Green were let out of the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols earlier this week. And DeMar DeRozan is expected to join them soon, as December 16th marked his 10th day away from the team. Considering how depleted this Bulls team is, adding all three players back to the rotation in any capacity is big, but it could be huge if they were able to actually get back on the court together.
Billy Donovan told reporters on Thursday he was still waiting for clearance to hold team activities. The Bulls have held only individual workouts since Monday, and Donovan was hoping that would change for this weekend. According to the Sun-Times, however, it appears those individual workouts have continued into today.
Chicago now runs the risk of having just one day to prepare as a team ahead of Sunday’s meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers, if even that. I know this coaching staff and a handful of the players have experience playing with minimal practice time thanks to last year’s rapid schedule, but everyone has still gotten back into a groove of more normal group activities this season. Stripping away this preparation time is only going to pose an even greater challenge. Not only do the players returning from a 10-day hiatus need it, but so do the out-of-rotation players who are now trying to help carry some of the weight for this team.
To be clear, I’m not saying the Bulls should currently have clearance to return to normal. The entire league will have to adjust to enhanced protocols and the general disruption of normalcy over the next week or so. But there is still no question this lack of practice time only presents another hurdle for this depleted team to overcome.
Now, with all that said, who knows whether or not Chicago will even play Sunday. The game might be scheduled for now, but the Lakers are experiencing their own outbreak that could continue to spiral. Dwight Howard, Talen Horton-Tucker, Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley, and now Kendrick Nunn have all entered protocols over the last week. So, if things keep going south, the Bulls could always end up with more time to get back in the gym together before their next game.
The Lakers say that Kendrick Nunn, who hasn’t played yet this season because of a bone bruise in his knee, has also entered the health and safety protocols
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 17, 2021