Guard Tomas Satoransky returns, strengthens Bulls’ bench

No one on the roster has had as much bad luck with the coronavirus as Satoransky. But while he will be on a minutes watch the next few games, he’s back and making an impact with the second unit.

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As the Bulls’ game Friday against the Hornets showed, there will be an easing-back-in period for backup point guard Tomas Satoransky.

Playing in his first game since Dec. 29, Satoransky was on a minutes watch after coming off a positive test for the coronavirus and the subsequent quarantine and cardiovascular testing NBA protocols demand.

Satoransky hopes words such as ‘‘contact tracing’’ and ‘‘isolation’’ are behind him.

‘‘Obviously, when I knew I was positive, it was beyond frustration,’’ Satoransky said before the Bulls’ 123-110 victory. ‘‘It was a difficult moment. I was fine going into the isolation on my own, but I was kind of worried about my family. Fortunately, they all tested negative, so that calmed me down.

‘‘But mentally was the toughest part, just being away from the team for the second time, watching the games, knowing you could help.’’

Satoransky was shut down earlier in the season because of contact tracing, then a second time after testing positive after the first of two games in Washington.

The first time was challenging because he kept testing negative but still had to miss valuable time. This time, however, was a real kick in the teeth because he was playing well as part of the Bulls’ second unit and really was making an impact backing up Coby White.

‘‘I missed almost all of the preseason games,’’ Satoransky said. ‘‘Then you are saying, like, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ I was following all the rules. But it just tells you that it’s unpredictable, this virus, and you have to be extra careful. And even if you’re careful, by bad luck, you might get it. I had to just accept it at one point.’’

In the three games before he was shut down for a second time, Satoransky was averaging 22.7 minutes. Coach Billy Donovan used him for 11 minutes Friday and likely will keep him in the high teens as he gets his conditioning back up.

Reserve forward Chandler Hutchison was shut down around the same time, so Donovan is being careful with them both.

‘‘It’s going to probably take those guys some time to acclimate back,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘Sato’s had a rough go at it. When I say that, he’s had two different segments where he’s not been allowed to play, and I think Hutch went through a period where he wasn’t feeling well at all and [had] to stay in Washington, D.C. It’s going to take both of those guys some time to get their feet back under them.’’

First miss

Center Wendell Carter Jr. was hoping his injury days were behind him, but that wasn’t the case Friday.

After playing in each of the Bulls’ first 14 games, Carter (bruised right quad) was in street clothes against the Hornets and likely will miss the game Saturday against the Lakers, too.

‘‘I don’t want to misspeak,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘He has made progress since having the injury, but I don’t see him playing [Saturday]. . . . I think it would hard for me to believe he is going to come back and play [against the Lakers].’’

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