Coby White, Javonte Green Cleared As Bulls Await Reinforcements

The Bulls will look to get healthy (as possible) heading into Sunday's matchup with the L.A. Lakers.
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later


The Bulls received good news that Coby White and Javonte Green have cleared health and safety protocols as they await more updates.

These last couple of weeks must have felt like jail for Billy Donovan. Locked behind the unforgiving bars of the COVID-19 outbreak that has taken out most of the players and resulted in two postponed games, the usually peripatetic Donovan has been a man trapped inside a prison of inactivity.

"We really haven't been able to do anything at all," Donovan acknowledged in a Thursday morning conference call with media.

But the doors of confinement appear finally to be inching toward the light with Coby White and Javonte Green cleared to begin playing again and Alex Caruso seemingly recovered from his hamstring injury. The Bulls are scheduled to be back on stage Sunday hosting the Los Angeles Lakers in the palatial ballroom known as the United Center. And even though Mr. Fabulous Zach LaVine won't be there and it's uncertain whether opponents will have to be ducking DeMar DeRozan, Donovan finally is starting to put his band back together.

Coby White warming up pregame

Coby White is 1 of 2 players (Javonte Green being the other) cleared from Health and Safety Protocols

"The only two guys we have back (from the 10 in league health and safety protocols) at this point that have been able to be in the gym coming out of protocols are Coby and Javonte," Donovan confirmed. "DeMar is still not back, Matt (Thomas) is still not back, Derrick (Jones) is still not back, Alize (Johnson), Zach, all those guys. I think the feeling is that probably Zach, Ayo (Dosunmu), Alize and Troy (Brown) probably will not come back until after Christmas the way it looks right now. That obviously can change based on the testing protocols, which is two negative tests.

"I think we're going to find out a lot more from the league (late Thursday) as it relates to what we can do going forward with our group," Donovan added. "Obviously, we're going to need some sort of ramp up period as it relates to practice. I don't know what Friday and Saturday will look like for us. In terms of the activities of being able to come in here (Advocate Center), get together as a team, workout as a team, do those kind of things, we haven't been able to do anything. Certainly we're dealing with a conditioning factor, we're dealing with a rhythm and timing situation. Certainly, we got hit really hard with all this and we lost a lot of players. Other teams have maybe been hit a little bit but not as much. The last probably 12 days, two weeks, it's been pretty much every day we've had somebody that has been in health and safety protocols and our team has totally changed. I'm hopeful the league will give us some time here, Friday and Saturday, to get the group back together that would be available to play on Sunday."

And so the hope remains that this most promising season that has the Bulls 17-10 and third in the Eastern Conference is merely interrupted. And this epidemic period is forgotten by April and May instead of becoming a cancer that eats away at everything positive the Bulls have accomplished in this first third of the season.

Because the Bulls were struck most severely by the virus outbreak around the NBA—and beyond—the league postponed this week's games against the Pistons and Raptors, the latter scheduled in Toronto. It was an unusually bare period for the Bulls with just those two games in eight days.

Then starting with the Lakers Sunday in the first of a back-to-back, the Bulls have eight games through January 1 and three back-to-back sets. The Bulls still do have Nikola Vucevic, who previously was out with the virus, and Lonzo Ball. And the team is perhaps fortunate that the league postponed those games considering the Bulls with emergency additions like Alfonzo McKinnie had the minimum required eight players. But given the depth of the outbreak and the Bulls inability to practice, the league appropriately excused the Bulls this week.

Though other teams now are starting to experience the Covid absences with five Lakers, Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk, Avery Bradley and Talen Horton-Tucker, now out. Plus, the Lakers are on an extended road trip and thus perhaps vulnerable to positive tests as the NBA increases the testing in the wake of all the positive results.

Zach LaVine and Russell Westbrook and Billy Donovan

Russell Westbrook is 1 of 5 Lakers currently in Health and Safety Protocols

It seemed apparent the Bulls were not on a level playing field with the outbreak. Donovan acknowledged Bulls players were being scrutinized more closely than others around the NBA. Perhaps that begins to equalize now with expanded testing around the NBA.

"Right now we're testing, as you can imagine, on a pretty regular basis," said Donovan. "The building has been pretty much closed down for us. We've had a lot of guys, quite honestly, that you would consider asymptomatic, where they have not really experienced any kind of illness or sickness. Certainly when you look at the numbers, forget the NBA, just nationally, certainly, there's been a huge spike. What ended up happening was during Thanksgiving, the league basically wanted all teams to test. And that's when we got our first guy put in the health and safety protocols in Coby. What that did is that transpired a lot more testing within our team. Once we started testing a lot more, that's when you started to see more of our players start to have to enter the health and safety protocols. And then once another guy tested, we just kept testing and testing and testing. And then you see all these guys start entering the health and safety protocols.

"Now if there was other teams in the league during that testing window did not have any positive cases, it's my understanding a lot of those teams weren't necessarily testing," Donovan revealed. "So I don't know where the league stands right now going into more holidays here with Christmas and New Years and what they'll actually do league-wide in terms of testing. I do know certainly when we were testing as much as we were testing, not every team was testing under the same premise that we were testing under. So you could've had, for some teams, players that were maybe asymptomatic or guys that were positive that just didn't really feel a lot of symptoms out there playing. I think the league is probably looking at all those things."

So it seems apparent the Bulls, perhaps unfairly, experienced greater scrutiny than other teams considering that many of the Bulls players who tested "positive" never had any symptoms of illness. Perhaps recognizing that inequity, the league may be testing on a more equitable level now. Which, then, perhaps could even endanger the next games with the Lakers and Rockets traveling. Though there have been no indications of any more postponements. Plus, it's LeBron, and he apparently willed himself out of the protocols with what was termed a false positive earlier this month. He is superman! OK, maybe.

"I don't know where the Lakers are at, per se, right now with their team, in terms of their health, or anybody else in the league other than knowing what we've had to do here," Donovan admitted.

Though to be fair, no one seems to know what the heck is going on.

Ever the optimist, Donovan is trying to find a silver lining in the team's dark cloud of absences.

"We had a lot of guys probably logging way too many minutes. In particular, Lonzo kind of stands out," Donovan noted. "Zach's in health and safety protocols, but he was a guy that was logging a lot of minutes as well. So hopefully it gives those guys an opportunity to get their bodies a chance to recover some. So if there is a blessing, that part of it is good for some of those guys, the ones that were absorbing a lot of minutes or guys that were dealing with some ailing things that they needed to get treated."

Though speaking of super men, it has to be the coaching staff since Donovan said he and all the coaches have been positive test-free.

"We've been all fine," said Donovan. "We've been doing the same thing that the rest of the players are doing, for the most part. We are testing on a regular basis. With all the testing that we are doing you hope and pray that we're on the back end and maybe not in the middle of it."

Because they are on a mission.

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.


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