All the information has been shared, the players have been educated and the protocols are in place.
But coach Billy Donovan still was nervous about the next several days.
With the Bulls playing their last game Wednesday before the All-Star break — it officially begins after the games on Thursday are played — there are no restrictions that’ll keep players in town. That means an entire roster scattering around the country. Hopefully, the players will make smart decisions.
“There’s been a lot of education from the league to the players,’’ Donovan said. “There’s been a lot of education from medical to the players. Obviously, with the All-Star break coming and us not being able to keep everybody in market, there are some rules. You know, if you’re within 45 miles of an NBA city, you have to get tested there. If you’re not, there’s kits you take home with you. But it’s the same thing. It’s the social-distancing; it’s trying to stay away from crowds. Obviously, a lot of these guys are going to want to visit family members. But, yeah, you just try to educate the guys the best you can.’’
The Bulls were hit by the coronavirus earlier in the season, but it was more bad luck than carelessness.
Garrett Temple said he got hit with it at a family gathering, then Chandler Hutchison and Tomas Satoransky were with several other players having dinner at a league-designated restaurant in Washington and still tested positive afterward.
The front office and coaching staff have been diligent in making sure the players understand the importance of doing things the right way during the pandemic, and Donovan was hoping the players would take that mentality home with them.
“You can have something, and some guys can come back and be positive,’’ Donovan said. “And they could have a week to 10 days of being out, then have to ramp back up in trying to find their conditioning. So we have to do a good job there, and hopefully we can be conscientious, and I think everybody in the league has tried to be conscientious, but sometimes this thing spreads so quickly. It’s hard. But, yeah, hopefully our guys will heed the words of the medical people and the experts and what they’ve been guided to do and directed to do.’’
It’s not just the players, either. Donovan and the coaching staff are also allowed to leave the area, so that’s even more moving parts in play.
“We’ll meet and talk and get back a little bit earlier before the guys get back,’’ Donovan said. “The hard part, to be honest with you, is this is really a different situation than most All-Star breaks. And what I mean by that is the testing is going to get ramped up even higher. We’re not even allowed to get with our guys until later in the afternoon [Tuesday]. And, to be honest with you, on [Tuesday], it’s totally voluntary on their part. And they don’t want the team gathering at all. And then on [Wednesday], which is the day before a back-to-back, we’re probably not going to be able to get on the floor to practice until late afternoon.’’
The Bulls open the second half hosting the 76ers on March 11.
Luke Kornet missed the game in New Orleans for personal reasons, but all eyes will be on Lauri Markkanen (sprained right shoulder) and Otto Porter Jr. (back) over the next week.
Donovan’s hope is that both will at least be practicing when the second half resumes.