The Chicago Bulls‘ ongoing battle with the coronavirus reached an unthinkable milestone on Monday morning. As reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, fourth-year power forward Alize Johnson just became the latest Bulls player to register a positive COVID-19 test.
As a result, the club officially has a whopping 10 players in health and safety protocols.
Once a player is entered into protocols, they must quarantine for at least 10 days or log consecutive negative PCR test results 24 hours apart in order to resume basketball activities. So, for the time being, Chicago is down to just eight healthy/available players on its roster, which includes two-way signees Devon Dotson and Tyler Cook, as well as replacement player Alfonzo McKinnie.
Given the dire nature of the Bulls’ Covid situation, the NBA has made the decision to postpone some of the team’s upcoming games.
NBA Postpones Two Bulls Games
After Johnson joined his teammates in protocols, the NBA officially postponed the Bulls’ December 14 home bout with the Detroit Pistons, as well as their December 16 roadie against the Toronto Raptors. According to Wojnarowski, the Chicago Department of Public Health had concerns about the team continuing to play this week, which affected the league’s decision-making.
This is the first time during the 2021-22 season that games have been canceled or postponed as a result of COVID-19.
Due to the postponement, the Bulls’ next game is scheduled to occur on Sunday, December 19 against the Los Angeles Lakers. The hope is that the time off will curb the spread of the virus while allowing Chicago to get some players back. To that end, at least one Bulls player is progressing toward a return to the hardwood.
As noted by Woj, third-year guard Coby White made his return to the team’s facilities on Monday. He was the first player to enter protocols for Chicago on December 1.
Bulls May Have Other Players Back in Time for the Lakers Game
Although White is the only player currently ramping up his activity level in hopes of a return, additional help could be on the way for the team’s next game. For his part, guard-forward Javonte Green entered protocols on December 3. Meanwhile, the team’s leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan, did the same on December 6.
Assuming no one else registers a positive test result between now and the 19th and no setbacks are incurred, that would likely leave the Bulls with DeRozan, White, Green, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Nikola Vucevic, Marko Simonovic, Dotson, Cook and McKinnie to play against LeBron James and Co.
It’s still not a full complement of players, but it may be enough to compete.
The Bulls were cruising before their brush with Covid became a full-on battle. Despite being shorthanded and suffering back-to-back losses, though, they still have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference at 17-10.