Chicago Bulls postpone 2 games as 10 players are in COVID protocols
By Sopan Deb
The Chicago Bulls’ next two games — against the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors — have been postponed because 10 Bulls players, as well as other staff members, are in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the NBA announced earlier this week.
With so many players unavailable, the Bulls faced the prospect of not being able to field enough healthy players to take the floor.
Monday’s announcement marks the first postponement of an NBA game this season and a reminder of the coronavirus pandemic’s continuing prevalence. Players enter the protocols when they test positive for the coronavirus or if they are possibly exposed to someone who has. Once players are in the protocols, they must quarantine for 10 days or until they have two negative PCR test results at least 24 hours apart.
The league has seen a striking uptick in the number of players in protocols since increasing testing, even among vaccinated players, after Thanksgiving. Last week, the Indiana Pacers and Raptors separately canceled a practice out of what both teams said was “an abundance of caution.”
Other teams affected by the recent upward swing in cases include the Charlotte Hornets, who had five players listed in protocols last week. On Monday, the team named only two, including their top player, LaMelo Ball.
Before the season, Arturas Karnisovas, executive vice president of the Bulls, said the team was “getting pretty close” to being fully vaccinated. The league and team did not immediately respond to an inquiry from a reporter about whether all the Bulls players had received the COVID vaccine.
Last season, the pandemic disrupted the NBA right from the start, with dozens of games postponed throughout the season, mostly in January. Only three teams did not have a game postponed: the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets.
Chicago’s next scheduled game is tentatively set for Sunday, when the Bulls host the Lakers. As of Monday, the Bulls were 17-10 and, ranked third in the Eastern Conference, were in the midst of a surprisingly strong start to the season. In the offseason, they added four-time All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan; guard Lonzo Ball, who had been with the New Orleans Pelicans; and guard Alex Caruso, who had been with the Lakers. DeRozan has missed the past three games because he was in the protocols.