Happy Holidays, Players Return, the Zach and DeMar Bromance, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Happy Holidays, Players Return, the Zach and DeMar Bromance, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Madhouse

Every player was dribbling, every player had bounce;

The training staff made sure they conditioned with care,

So that by the time the Pacers game rolled around, they could all be there …

Sorry, I’ll save the rest for bedtime!

We all received an early Christmas present on Thursday morning. Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Alize Johnson, Matt Thomas, and Devon Dotson were all released from the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols. It marked the first day since December 1st that the Chicago Bulls had zero players in quarantine.

Coaches on the other hand …

What we’re left to wonder now is whether or not all five players will be available for Saturday night’s contest against the Indiana Pacers. One can only hope!

•   I’ll say this: If LaVine isn’t given the thumbs up to play, I’ll put plenty of coal in plenty of stockings. The All-Star told reporters that he has been back on the court for the past few days, and he remained asymptomatic during his entire stint in protocols. Yes, we all know this extended absence can still take a player out of his rhythm, but LaVine will have had multiple days in the gym before potentially rejoining the starting lineup against Indiana.

•   Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan might have the league’s best bromance. Taking in the full DeRozan experience with the rest of us over the past week, LaVine could only rave to NBC Sports Chicago about what the NBA’s 5th-leading scorer did in his absence

“Dude is incredible, man. I got high standards for myself, but there are certain things you just gotta tip your hat to. I called him afterwards and was like, ‘Man that was incredible.’ It’s who he is,” LaVine told K.C. Johnson when asked about DeRozan’s 19-point 4th quarter against the Lakers.

•   I’d say it’s nearly impossible to watch DeRozan without your jaw at least somewhat near the floor this season. Averaging 26.8 points per game with 5.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists, DeRozan is easily putting together one of the best seasons of his 13-year-long career. His 50 percent field goal percentage is 5th among players who average at least 25 points (behind only Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Durant, and James), and his 7.7 free-throw attempts per game are the 4th-most in the league. Heck, even behind the arc he is shooting 33.3 percent, which would make for the second-highest clip of his career. I surely thought DeRozan might cool down after his wickedly hot start, but the fact he came back from a stint in protocols ready to drop 38 points against the Lakers suggests anything but. So  … yeah … I guess LaVine is right, “it’s who he is.”

•   I’m sure skillset and common goal play a significant role in their respect for one another, but I also have to imagine a lot of the admiration between LaVine and DeRozan simply stems from their own lighter workload. Both know how strenuous a full season as the primary option can be, particularly in a losing environment. Each player has been stuck in organizations where winning was not the primary focus over the past handful of seasons. Perhaps they had some solid talent around them, but the expectations placed on those other players centered more around development than winning.

“Yeah, he said he doesn’t want to do that [take over] all the time. I felt the same way when I called him after that Miami game. I said, ‘Look, man, I’ve gone through this before. I don’t want to do this.’”

•   Read Johnson’s full story on LaVine’s return below:

•   With so many players returning, the status of the 10-day deals for Alfonzo McKinnie, Mac McClung, and Ersa Ilyasova has been thrown up in the air. However, ESPN’s Bobby Marks confirmed this morning that the NBA has adjusted its hardship rules, stating that players can remain on the roster for their full 10 days but will have to be considered “inactive.”

•   Great news for McCollum. Great news for the Trail Blazers. And great news for the Bulls (#WinGamesSoWeCanHaveThatFirstRoundPickPlease)!

•   As they should.

•   Beal’s status will be something to monitor with the Bulls playing the Wizards twice at the start of the new year (January 1st and 7th).

•   So maybe the Knicks should play Kemba.

•   Bulls legend Al-Farouq Aminu.

•   And a Merry Christmas to you, too!

•   Heh, I get it.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.