Bulls hit with coronavirus again

Tomas Satoransky became the third rotation player to test positive, and coach Billy Donovan finds himself having to defend how closely the organization has been following the NBA protocols.

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Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky was almost adamant in his reply.

‘‘I don’t think it’s going to be a huge problem for our group,’’ Satoransky said when he was asked about the Bulls making the right decisions in terms of the coronavirus protocols put in place by the NBA. ‘‘We were away from the game for so much [between March and December] that we don’t even think about doing something [other] than acting professionally and kind of helping all of our team to stick together.’’

That was three weeks ago. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Few NBA teams have been hit as hard by the virus as the Bulls, and coach Billy Donovan on Sunday revealed Satoransky was the third major rotation player who had tested positive.

Guard Garrett Temple tested positive coming into camp, then forward Chandler Hutchison tested positive when the Bulls were in Washington last week.

Forward Lauri Markkanen, guard Ryan Arcidiacono and Satoransky were put in the protocol because of contact tracing before Satoransky became the latest to test positive.

So what are the Bulls doing wrong? Nothing, actually.

A source told the Sun-Times the front office has gone above and beyond to make sure the protocols are being followed, with Temple and Hutchison coming up positive because of holiday gatherings.

As for Satoransky, he has just been the hard-luck player in all of this. He was shut down two weeks ago because of contact tracing, and now he has been idled again.

‘‘I think our guys have been pretty compliant,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘If there has been anything they’ve been able to do on these road trips, it’s all been league-approved as it relates to restaurants or going somewhere. I think our guys have been really, really compliant with that stuff.

‘‘The thing I cannot speak to is that we just finished up the holiday season. I think for our guys, all of them have been very, very conscious, but a lot of times it could be coming from family, it could be coming from outside, people getting together.

‘‘Some of these guys have kids. Some of these kids, maybe some of the schools are open. There’s just a lot of different ways, but I don’t think our guys are being irresponsible in terms of going out and putting themselves in harm’s way.’’

The good news is that Satoransky, Markkanen and Arcidiacono made it back to Chicago. According to the Bulls’ public-relations staff, Hutchison remains in Washington, with the NBA taking over his care and eventual travel back to Chicago.

The bad news is that the Bulls are expecting to stay short-handed. They were scheduled to fly to Portland, Oregon, after practice Monday to start a four-game trip.

If Markkanen and Arcidiacono continue testing negative, they might be able to join the team on the trip later in the week. But Donovan said he wasn’t sure it would be worth it.

‘‘You can anticipate that it’s probably going to be on the back end of that road trip,’’ Donovan said of the prospective returns. ‘‘Then we would probably have to make sense out of, one, is it worthwhile to potentially have them come out for one game? . . . And, two, do they actually get cleared to even be able to come there? But leaving [Monday] for Portland, I would anticipate that we would be without those guys.’’

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