Bulls hope to have the gang all together again soon ... well, almost

The Bulls were four bodies down at the start of this road trip, but with Lauri Markkanen and Ryan Arcidiacono remaining negative in the coronavirus protocol, the hope is both can return next week.

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While Lauri Markkanen and Ryan Arcidiacono will not be joining the rest of their teammates in Los Angeles for the finale of this road trip Sunday, there was at least some momentum building to get both of them back soon.

Coach Billy Donovan said they continued to test negative for the coronavirus, so they’ve been able to get individual workouts in at the Advocate Center in hopes of returning when the Bulls host the Celtics on Tuesday.

“They’re still negative, and they’ve been able to get some work in, which is good,’’ Donovan said Friday. “Our main concern was that they continue to test negative, and we’ve been able to get them some work in through the league. Obviously, the league plays a major role in that, working with them on it. But we’ve been able to get something done, which at least has been good, considering it’s been about a week since they’ve really had any kind of work like that.’’

Arcidiacono and Markkanen were among the four Bulls who entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols last week.

Forward Chandler Hutchison was the first domino to fall when he tested positive while the team was in Washington. Markkanen, Arcidiacono and Tomas Satoransky were held out for contact tracing, and Satoransky tested positive several days later.

Hutchison and Satoransky still have hurdles to clear before they can return, including numerous negative tests as well as going through heart exams before they can be cleared.

Markkanen and Arcidiacono are on a much quicker path as long as there are no setbacks.

“I’m not quite sure what the number is [of negative tests], but there’s been nothing that’s come out where they have tested positive, so my guess is when we get back, they’ll be able to rejoin the team, but the NBA will make a huge decision on that,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘They’ll be behind the decision. The biggest thing for us is when we get back, can we just integrate them into the team? My guess is we would be able to if they continue to test negative. But we’d have only one day between the next game we would play, so if they can get some work in while we’re on the West Coast, that’s helpful to reacclimate them to the team and hopefully them being in position physically where they can potentially play the next game.’’

It will be interesting to see what role Markkanen returns to. Arcidiacono will stay a reserve, but Markkanen was a starter and was playing well.

If he returns to the starting lineup, would that also mean he gets the chance to close games? For the last week, Donovan has been finishing games with Zach LaVine, Coby White, Garrett Temple, Otto Porter Jr. and Thad Young.

Rook to King

Donovan is not shy about giving rookie Patrick Williams defensive assignments against generational-level players.

Williams already was matched up against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, was scheduled to face LeBron James on Friday and would get a shot at Kawhi Leonard on Sunday.

“He’s watched film, he’s prepared,’’ Donovan said. “I don’t think you learn about playing against players until you actually go through it. And these experiences will be good for him, and he’ll learn something from this.’’

As for Williams, he has said numerous times that he welcomes the challenge of guarding the best players on opposing teams.

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