Remember last January, when COVID-19 ripped through the team’s roster, sidelining four rotation players for much of the month? Or April when star guard Zach LaVine was sent out because of the COVID-19 protocols, leaving the team toothless as it tried to mount a playoff push? Or earlier this year, when center Nikola Vucevic missed seven games with the illness?
Well, now it is star wing DeMar DeRozan who is entering the COVID-19 protocols, following reserve guard Coby White and forward Javonte Green, who each tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
Bulls coach Billy Donovan told reporters before the game that it was not yet determined whether DeRozan has COVID-19 or simply returned a false positive test. DeRozan had participated in shootaround in the morning and has undergone subsequent testing to determine his actual COVID-19 status.
“He’s in health and safety protocols,” Donovan said. “I know there’s probably a lot more questions about, is he positive, is he negative? It’s, I don’t even know yet. This is obviously coming from the league and we’ll probably have more information going forward. This just transpired this afternoon, so I cannot really confirm and/or deny if it’s a false positive, or is positive. I just don’t know right now.”
Bulls Health Getting Hammered on the Wing
DeRozan’s status shone a harsh light on the state of the Bulls’ depth for their game against the Nuggets on Monday, especially with the team now getting hammered with health issues on the wing. In addition to DeRozan and Green, guard Alex Caruso is out, too, with a hamstring problem, suffered during Saturday’s win over the Nets.
“It’s a hamstring issue, a calf issue, it’s lower,” Donovan said. “It’s not significant. He’s gotten an MRI, he’s gotten treatment. I think with something like that, the bigger concern is, if we bring him back too early, now it goes from something that was minor to something that is significant and he is missing more time.”
Donovan said Caruso will be reevaluated in a week, though he could be out longer than a week.
The Bulls were forced to start rookie Ayo Dosunmu and forward Derrick Jones Jr., who each were making their first appearance with the opening five. It’s the third group of starters Donovan has used in the Bulls’ last three games. The team has used seven starting lineups in 25 games.
Could the NBA Suspend Play as COVID-19 Spreads?
As the COVID-19 issue has begun to spread around the league, with the Charlotte Hornets playing without five players and the Nuggets also shorthanded by three players, there has been concern that the league could look to suspend play. Donovan, though, said he’d heard no such talk, at least not yet.
According to NBC Sports Chicago, Donovan said:
I have not heard anything along those lines. I think the biggest question that comes up is if you have something that runs through a team and you have multiple players that are not able to compete is there enough players for the team to go out there and function? That was something that happened last year, where there was a lot of postponement of games.
I do think the most important thing for our league is the health and safety of all the players and all the people that are involved. I think everybody, and I’ve said this before about our guys, have done a good job following and doing what we’re asked to be done from the league and from the medical side. It’s just this time of year there certainly has been a spike in this, but I have not heard anything as it relates to them going into a situation of shutting down the league for a period of time. I have not heard that.