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Bulls players have concerns about NBA’s Orlando ‘bubble’

The Bulls remain on the outside looking in as far as the 22-team season restart, but that reboot of the season could play a part in what happens to the other eight teams.

“I think the main concern — and I think it still is a concern with the players that are going down there — is it safe?’’ the Bulls’ Zach LaVine (right) said of the NBA’s plan to restart the season with 22 teams in Florida.
“I think the main concern — and I think it still is a concern with the players that are going down there — is it safe?’’ the Bulls’ Zach LaVine (right) said of the NBA’s plan to restart the season with 22 teams in Florida.
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Of course, they were going to play.

Bulls guard Zach LaVine made that clear.

“As basketball players, that’s our job,’’ LaVine said last week when asked about the 22-team restart ‘‘bubble’’ in Orlando, Florida. ‘‘We want to play.’’

But there still were concerns about a return to team basketball activities for the first time since the March shutdown. And many of those concerns remain.

The Bulls are one of the eight teams left out of the restart, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely free of the coronavirus cloud that hangs over the NBA.

The NBA had notified the 22 teams playing in the restart that the Orlando training camp would run from July 9-29, with the reboot of the 2019-20 season tipping off July 30.

The eight teams on the outside looking in remain hopeful that all goes well in those training camps from a health standpoint and that the NBA sets up some type of Summer League for them.

It’s an idea that might gain momentum as long as the “bubble’’ works smoothly.

“I think the main concern — and I think it still is a concern with the players that are going down there — is it safe?’’ LaVine said. “People are in different situations. Some have families, some have wives, girlfriends, different things like that. I’m a big family person. I see my parents and my fiancée every day. It’s just concerning. If we do go down there, do we have to be quarantined from our family? What happens if somebody gets it? Can you bring it back and make sure that your family feels safe? Does family come with you?

“I think those were more of the general questions. It wasn’t anything about basketball because that’s the thing that we understand how to do. With COVID-19, that’s unknown. So that’s what I think a lot of the questions were about.’’

There are scenarios in place that give teams extra roster flexibility in case the virus hits several players. But what if several big-name stars on a team contract the virus, completely compromising a top seed’s chance to make a run?

And what long-term effects will the virus have on the league? Would a team in the “bubble’’ but unlikely to advance far find all the health risks worth the trouble?

Would the Bulls find an eight-team “consolation’’ tournament worth it?

Those are questions that have to be weighed individually if certain scenarios unfold.

‘‘Obviously, everybody has a concern about contracting the virus,’’ Bulls forward Thaddeus Young said. “But you also have guys that understand we have to play in order to keep the league moving forward. But for me, I worry more along the lines of my family’s aspect of it. We have a young league, and a lot of these guys in the league, they don’t have kids or they don’t have a family. They may have a girlfriend that they’re dealing with. Besides that, it’s just kind of them. So it’s different worries for different people.

“My worry is more about me being with all the other guys and then coming back home to my family. Like, what was the exit strategy? So those were some of the things that I wanted to talk about if we were going to continue to play or we were out of it. For me to have to go home and quarantine myself for two weeks away from my family, that’s tough when you’ve already been away from your family for a month or a couple of months.’’

For Young and the Bulls, those aren’t immediate concerns.

But all eyes will be on Orlando as this resumption plays out.