Bulls coach Billy Donovan says NBA disruptions ‘inevitable’

It only took two days into the NBA regular-season schedule for the first game to be postponed. The Rockets couldn’t field a roster because of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Donovan thinks everyone should be prepared for more.

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Postponements were going to be a part of the NBA norm in 2020-21, but for one to happen on the second night of the regular season was a slap-in-the-face reminder of what the league is trying to pull off outside of a bubble.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan simply said it was “inevitable.’’

“It’s every day for us, and I know you wake up and you’re waiting for test results, and we’re testing all the time and talking to our guys about the safety of everyone, but a lot of this stuff is possibly inevitable,’’ Donovan said Wednesday in a Zoom call. “From our standpoint, you have to deal with what it is you’re dealing with, with people being out, but this is something that’s going to be going on for quite some time. And it makes it very, very challenging.

‘‘I’ve said this before: It’s not just us; the whole league is dealing with this. You could have rotations one night, and it’s totally different the next night. You could have guys available one game, and they might not be available the next game, so that makes it hard.’’

In the case of the Rockets, they didn’t have enough players to field a team, whether it was because of positive tests or contact tracing. Either way, the NBA was going to remain strict with its policy.

The Bulls already were aware of the stringent protocols after Garrett Temple tested positive for the coronavirus and missed all of the preseason and Tomas Satoransky was sidelined for several games despite negative tests. The league determined he was close enough to Noah Vonleh in the locker room after Vonleh eventually tested positive. That earned Satoransky time in quarantine.

“It’s not even necessarily people testing positive,’’ Donovan said. “A lot of it is the contact tracing and someone that maybe was exposed to someone that is infected.

“I’ve talked to our players about the safety part of it, but they also have to keep themselves ready. You can have a guy that’s completely out of the rotation, then for the next two or three weeks, he can be completely in the rotation. We have to do a good job, players and coaches, of making sure we’re all staying ready.’’

Training room

The only major rotation player to miss the opener was forward Thad Young. He was battling an infection in his left leg but felt like he was almost out of the woods and could return soon.

“I’m still lifting and doing certain things,’’ Young said. “The conditioning aspect and stamina aspect is the biggest part. But being physically fit, I think I’m fine. Just need a couple of days to kind of get myself back into it.’’

Silent night

There may have been some empty AAU gyms that rookie Patrick Williams played in growing up, but the 19-year-old thought those days were behind him.

So to sit in the United Center and play a meaningful game in front of zero fans is not what he envisioned at this time last year when he was playing for Florida State.

“It’s different, for sure, but I think when you’re in a game, you just lock in on the game plan and things like that,’’ Williams said. “So when I’m in a game, I really don’t notice it that much. I usually only notice it when I’m on the bench and get a chance to look around or when it’s a timeout, and I get a chance to actually witness the silence.’’

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