Chandler Hutchison tested positive for COVID-19, according to Bulls coach Billy Donovan, a development that placed teammates Lauri Markkanen, Tomáš Satoranský and Ryan Arcidiacono into the NBA's health and safety protocol because of close contact.
Donovan confirmed Hutchison's news with the third-year forward's permission, and Hutchison remained in Washington, D.C. That's where his positive test occurred, sidelining him and the three teammates just before Thursday's tipoff against the Wizards.
The Bulls traveled to Milwaukee for Friday's back-to-back game, leaving the four players behind. Donovan said the three players besides Hutchison who were placed into the league's protocol system have returned to Chicago.
"Chandler is still going through all the NBA safety protocols," Donovan said.
Per the league's return-to-play rules, Hutchison must sit out a minimum of 10 days from first testing positive -- and that's if he's asymptomatic. If he's symptomatic, that 10-day period begins from when those symptoms subside. In either scenario, players must pass a series of cardiac tests and practice solo for two days before being allowed to rejoin the team.
As for the players placed in the league's protocol because of close contact, they must continue to produce negative tests and self-quarantine at home. When Satoranský experienced a similar situation during the preseason after exposure to the since-waived Noah Vonleh, he had to miss nine days until he rejoined the team.
"Going into the season, nobody really knew what it was going to be like. The year is challenging in a lot of different areas. You wake up in the morning and you don't know maybe who's gonna be available and not available," Donovan said. "And it's not like somebody gets hurt in a game and you have maybe an idea a guy may be questionable. I mean, you could have, as we did (Thursday), four guys you're preparing to totally put in a game to potentially play and none of them are available."
This is the Bulls' third positive test. Garrett Temple revealed that he tested positive the day before training camp started after he spent time with family over the Thanksgiving holiday. Donovan also revealed that the team was without four coaches for their Dec. 26 game against the Indiana Pacers for protocol-related reasons.
These are all sobering reminders of the unprecedented nature of this season.
"The hard part is like when you get together as a team, it’s not like, ‘OK, you know, we’re meeting at 10 o’clock. It’s five to 10, we’ll go downstairs.’ No, you got to go and get tested, and then you have to sit around and wait for your results to get back and then you can meet. So those are the things that are more inconveniences and the daily challenges," Donovan said. "The basketball part of it we’re still doing. We just have to walk around a lot of these parameters to try and keep everybody safe.
"Traveling on the road is entirely different than it's been in the past. We played two games in Washington (D.C.), and you're limited what you are and what you can and can't do. Where you can go in the hotel, where you can leave, where you can go eat, all those things. So, I mean, the world's changed in a lot of ways, not only the NBA but I think worldwide. So, we're certainly reminded of on a daily basis of what we're having to deal with."