As Bulls put 17th player in the protocols, Jordan Bell is back

Bell was drafted by the Bulls in the second round in 2017, but his rights were sold to the Warriors.

SHARE As Bulls put 17th player in the protocols, Jordan Bell is back

Jordan Bell will wear a Bulls uniform after all.

With the organization putting yet another player — rookie Marko Simonovic this time — in the health and safety protocols, the Bulls were given another hardship exception and signed the 6-8 Bell.

Does that name sound familiar?

It should. He was the ‘‘poster boy’’ for the previous Bulls regime.

On draft night in 2017, then-general manager Gar Forman and former executive vice president John Paxson already had traded Jimmy Butler in Round 1, going into full rebuild mode. Then they drafted Bell in the second round and sold his rights to the Warriors for a then-league-record $3.5 million.

To be fair, the Bulls never were interested in Bell and picked him for the Warriors.

It only got worse in November of that season when Bell came in with Golden State and had a huge impact with seven points, six rebounds, six blocks and four assists in a Warriors victory.

He even taunted the old regime, saying after the game, “I wanted to see how cash considerations was doing over there.’’

Now he might get his chance to be a Bull, but for a different-looking regime.

The Bulls did get Derrick Jones Jr. back from a tweaked hamstring for the rematch with the Hawks, but they still had Lonzo Ball, Tony Bradley, Ersan Ilyasova, Alfonzo McKinnie and Simonovic in the protocols.

Since Nikola Vucevic returned in November, the Bulls have put 17 players in the protocols. Only Alex Caruso, two-way player Tyler Cook and hardship exception Mac McClung have avoided the protocols.

Coach Billy Donovan also remained in the protocols, missing his third game.

Unpausing the Caru-Show?

Caruso still was dealing with a sprained foot, but acting head coach Chris Fleming said he was moving toward a return sooner rather than later.

“It feels good,’’ Fleming said. “I think in that case, it pays to be conservative. He plays so hard, and our medical staff is doing a good job of managing him, but I think they’re just taking a long-term view of how that recovery is. As far as I know, everything is moving forward.’’

Closing time

Zach LaVine has seen firsthand how dominant DeMar DeRozan can be in the fourth quarter and appreciated it even more from a distance while he was in the protocols.

LaVine continues to absorb valuable lessons from his veteran teammate.

“I’ve always been somebody, especially with my past experiences, where it’s like, ‘OK, I gotta do it now and do everything,’ ’’ LaVine said. “If we’re down 10, I want to try to get it back right away. [DeRozan is] so calm. It doesn’t matter if he has 25 going into the fourth or if he has four. He takes that fourth quarter as a totally different game. It’s something to learn from, and I think I’ve picked up a little bit on that.’’

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