Bulls coach Billy Donovan admittedly is heading into uncharted waters
And he’s not alone. Every NBA coach will be dealing with load management and trying to find practice time, but Donovan said Thursday that it will be a feel thing for all the coaches.
There was no shootaround Thursday morning.
There won’t be a shootaround Friday, either.
The next logical practice day would be Monday, but that’s written in pencil, not pen.
The NBA coaching manual has a lot of information in it, but there’s no chapter on how to navigate five games over a seven-night span, and there will be a lot of the same throughout the second half of the season.
That’s what Bulls coach Billy Donovan and the rest of his NBA counterparts have to figure out.
“There’s three parts to that,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘Just your eyes, what you are watching to see how guys are moving and playing. The other part is taking their inventory, how they are feeling, what they are going through physically, mentally, emotionally. And then the medical part plays a big piece just in terms of the loads, managing that and looking at the numbers and how they are feeling. So if guys are OK and able to play and want to play, we certainly want to do that.
“It’s extremely important that players are honest about how they’re feeling and what they’re going through. We should be, as most teams are, maybe fresher physically in just having some time off but obviously a little bit rusty in some other areas.
‘‘But as this second half unfolds and with the number of games that we have, there has to be a daily check to see where guys are at physically. It might be a wise choice to maybe have somebody sit out a game to recuperate and get ready for the next one.’’
Donovan does have some options with his roster. He was creative with his combinations and matchups in the first half,unconcerned with how deep he was going into his bench.
All of that maneuvering will come into play over the next few months.
Initially, it will be difficult to find practice time to build up the conditioning of Lauri Markkanen (right shoulder) and Otto Porter Jr. (back), who missed a significant number of games entering the break. Both returned against the 76ers but were admittedly rusty.
“If a guy is feeling good, and he wants to play, I think you have to side with the player,’’ Donovan said. “Just for myself or medical to say, ‘No, you are not playing tonight. This is our decision, and you are going to sit.’ I don’t think that’s good because I think you want a competitive group.’’
Porter had no reaction to rumors that he could be headed for a buyout, insisting that the business of basketball goes through his representation, and all has been quiet on that end.
“To be honest with you, I have no idea,’’ Porter said. “Like I said, I’ve just been in the gym every day, trying to get my body back, and whatever is going on out there, I have no idea about. My agent would probably tell me if something was going on, but he hasn’t said anything.’’
Porter is making $28.4 million this season but is headed for free agency this summer.
Asked if he was putting an emphasis on showcasing his talent in the second half, especially after mostly being out injured in the first half, Porter downplayed that scenario, as well.
“I’m just focused on the team right now,’’ Porter said.