Coronavirus concerns continue hampering Bulls from normal activity

Coronavirus concerns continue hampering Bulls from normal activity

Matt Thomas was the latest Bull to be put into the NBA’s health and safety protocol, bringing the total to four. Thomas joined DeMar DeRozan, Javonte Green and Coby White, as coach Billy Donovan was searching for some normalcy.

CLEVELAND – It wasn’t the type of phone call that Billy Donovan wanted to receive.

The fact that it came at 6:30 AM on Wednesday morning, only made it worse.

That’s when the Bulls coach was informed that reserve guard Matt Thomas had entered the league’s health and safety protocols, forcing the team to send him back to Chicago in the evening.

Thomas joined DeMar DeRozan, Javonte Green and Coby White in the protocol, with White and Green confirmed positive with the coronavirus. DeRozan and Thomas can only be described as in the protocol, which is a privacy choice for the individual players that the NBA instituted last season.

That’s why Donovan could only say so much.

“Some of the regulations from last year are a lot different this year,’’ Donovan said. “So there are certain things that all these guys have to clear inside the health and safety protocols, and it’s really more the league and the medical staff determining if that’s been satisfied.’’

The fact that Thomas had to make the five-hour drive from Cleveland, however, was a pretty clear indication that he was more than just a false-positive, but again, very little is known within the protocol walls unless the player allows it.

What was very clear to Donovan? Not only was being four players down tough from a rotation standpoint, but because the Bulls are being hit so hard it also leads to restrictions on how much time the players can spend around each other.

So there was no shootaround in Cleveland, a Friday practice in Miami was up in the air, and the shootaround before the Heat game was already cancelled.

“The league has put some things on us that we can and cannot do as a group, so it’s definitely been somewhat challenging,’’ Donovan said. “The hard part going into the Denver game [on Monday] was you’re going through preparation obviously, and everybody is there for shootaround. You finish up shootaround and then you find out a couple hours before the game that DeMar can’t play, so now you’re switching up the starting lineup, switching up rotations, so you gotta be flexible, that’s what we’re dealing with.

“Certainly, there’s been several guys on our team that have been impacted by it, but yeah, to your question, our practices have been impacted by that.’’

According to Donovan, the league had allowed the team a hardship exemption, and all signs point to Stanley Johnson joining the Bulls in Miami to help out with the depth issue.

The Caru-Show

It wasn’t all bad news in Cleveland, as guard Alex Caruso made some positive strides in returning from a hamstring injury.

Not only did Caruso travel with the team on this two-game trip, but will have two off days to continue testing the leg before the Saturday game in Miami.

“I think there will be a lot more sprinting, lateral cutting, just to see how he responds,’’ Donovan said. “So the phase he was in when he had gotten hurt, he’s progressed way past that right now. So he’s doing really, really well. Now, I don’t know how he’s going to respond to that actual starting, stopping, sprinting and doing that, but I think the medical guys, along with Alex basically doing this, feel pretty comfortable where he’s at now.’’

Caruso was tied with Jimmy Butler for the league-lead in steals with 2.2 per game. The hope is they will have him for the Heat game, even if it is on restricted minutes.

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