All the information has been given, the players have been trained and the protocols are in place.
That’s not to say Bulls coach Billy Donovan wasn’t worried about what might happen next week.
With the Bulls playing their last game before the All-Star break – it officially begins after Thursday’s games – there are no restrictions on keeping players in town. This means an entire list scattered across the country hopefully being smart in their decisions on a social level.
“I think there has been a lot of education from the league to the players,” Donovan said on Wednesday. “I think there has been a lot of medicine education for the players. Obviously, with the All-Star Break coming in and not being able to keep everyone in the market, there are rules. You know, if you’re within 45 miles of an NBA town, you’ve got to get tested there. Obviously, if you’re not, there are kits you take home with you. But it’s the same, it’s social distancing, it’s trying to stay away from the crowds. Obviously, a lot of these guys will want to visit family members. But yeah, you’re just trying to educate guys the best you can. ”
The Bulls were hit by the coronavirus earlier in the season, but as a group it was more bad luck than recklessness.
Garrett Temple said he was hit at a family reunion, then Chandler Hutchison and Tomas Satoransky were with several other players having dinner at a league-designated restaurant in Washington DC, and tested positive again thereafter.
Front office and coaching staff have been very diligent in making sure players understand the importance of doing things the right way in this pandemic, and Donovan’s hope was for the mentality to be taken home.
“You can have something and some guys can come back and be positive,” Donovan said. “And they could obviously have a week to 10 days of absence and then have to work harder to try to find their physical condition. So we have to do a good job there, and I hope we can be conscientious, and I think everyone in the league has tried to be conscientious, but sometimes it spreads so fast, sometimes it’s difficult. But yes, I hope our guys will heed the words of the doctors and the experts, and what they have been guided and directed to do. ”
It’s not just the gamers either. Donovan and the coaching staff are also allowed to leave the market, which is even more mobile.
“We’ll meet, chat and come back a bit earlier before the guys come back,” Donovan said of the staff. “The hardest part, to be honest with you, is that it’s really a different situation than most All-Star Breaks. And what I mean by that is that the tests are going to increase even more. We don’t even have the right to meet up with our guys until later in the afternoon [next Tuesday]. And really, to be honest with you, the ninth is totally voluntary on their part. And they don’t want the team to come together at all. And then on the 10th, which is the day before a back-to-back, we probably won’t be able to get on the floor to practice until late afternoon. ”
The Bulls open the second half by hosting Philadelphia on March 11.
Luke Kornet missed the game in New Orleans for personal reasons, but all eyes will be on Lauri Markkanen (sprained right shoulder) and Otto Porter Jr. (back) next week.
Donovan’s hope is that the two will practice at least when the second half resumes.