Bulls coach Billy Donovan not ready to make a move at lead guard
Coby White has had his struggles of late, but because of Tomas Satoransky’s two stints in the NBA’s coronavirus protocol, Donovan is willing to ride things out.
It’s not easy to assess what kind of season Bulls backup point guard Tomas Satoransky is having.
He has been in the NBA’s coronavirus protocol twice since the season tipped off — once because of contact tracing and once because of contact tracing that eventually turned into a positive test — despite showing up to camp in as good a shape as he could recall.
He has been the victim of bad luck, but the Bulls also have been forced to adjust.
On paper, Satoransky should be the perfect backup for Coby White, especially when White struggles as the Bulls’ lead guard — as he often has recently. But because Satoransky has been shut down twice, his conditioning and rhythm have been affected.
‘‘He obviously had two stints, so that’s hard,’’ coach Billy Donovan said before the Bulls’ 118-92 rout Saturday of the Magic. ‘‘I think he’s at a much better place now than maybe he was a few games ago.’’
The minutes Satoransky has been earning show that.
Satoransky was averaging just less than 23 minutes in late December before his second shutdown put him out for more than three weeks. When he returned, he got 11 minutes against the Hornets on Jan. 22 and 12 against the Lakers on Jan. 23.
That he played 21 minutes and was a plus-19 on Friday and 27 minutes and was a plus-13 on Saturday are signs Satoransky is moving forward, Donovan said.
‘‘I think he’s getting his legs back under him,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘He’s trying to find himself. But each game he’s out there playing, I think he’ll be more and more comfortable.’’
Still, Donovan said he doesn’t plan to move Satoransky into the starting lineup in White’s place. It’s still up to White to develop into the lead guard the Bulls need him to be.
‘‘I think Coby has competed really well; he has shot the ball very well,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I think with the ball in his hands . . . he is evolving, learning, growing, so to speak. I know we’re 20 or 21 games into [the season], and we talked about that maybe when we were 10 or 15 games into it.
‘‘Is it a situation where maybe you bring Sato in a little bit earlier? You stagger those guys? But I’m not at a point where I just say, ‘Hey, listen, we’re done with [White].’ I wouldn’t do that. I think he’s too important to our team.
‘‘He does compete; I trust him in that area. I just think he’s a guy that’s 20 years old, and there’s going to be some of these moments where he’s going to be up-and-down.’’
Veteran forward Otto Porter Jr. was in street clothes again as he continues to get treatment for back spasms that have been hampering his play for weeks. Donovan offered no timetable for his return.
‘‘I know there’s been a lot of questions because he’s an important part to our team,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘When he’s been out there and playing well, I think it’s really elevated and helped our team.
‘‘At the same point, I think we’re trying to figure out, could this be something that will be recurring? Can we get it resolved? And a lot is going to depend on how he’s feeling, as well.’’