Coby White’s difficult 2021-22 season continued when, according to Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan, the third-year guard tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning.
White, who stayed behind as the Bulls left for a two-game trip against the Knicks and Nets, will miss at least 10 days and must produce two negative tests before he is cleared to undergo cardiac screening. Once he passes that, he would be cleared to play.
Nikola Vučević recently missed seven games following his positive test and undergoing a similar routine.
The Bulls are fully vaccinated. Like all teams, they were undergoing daily testing because of the recent Thanksgiving holiday. Now that those tests produced at least one positive result, Donovan said players and coaches will continue with daily testing.
“I feel bad for Coby just because he’s coming off the shoulder injury,” Donovan said. “He’s trying to find his way back and now he’s got another period of time where he’s not going to be able to do anything physically until the league clears him to go through cardiac testing — however long that takes.”
White has played nine games since returning from his offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. He is averaging 6.1 points and shooting just 22.6 percent from 3-point range.
Since Donovan addressed reporters shortly after learning of White’s test result, he said he and his coaching staff planned to tackle rotational questions on the flight to New York. Donovan said he has confidence in rookie Ayo Dosunmu, who has stayed in the rotation even after White’s return, and other reserves who have worked to stay ready. Troy Brown Jr. is the most likely candidate to receive minutes.
The Bulls also are dealing with an ill Zach LaVine, whom Donovan praised for playing through a non-COVID-related illness in Monday’s victory over the Hornets. LaVine stayed home and away from the team on Tuesday as players sat through film sessions and worked out individually. LaVine attended Wednesday’s practice but didn’t participate.
Donovan said he’s expecting LaVine to play on Thursday against the Knicks.
“I think that (Monday) game quite honestly took a lot out of him,” Donovan said. “Just trying to get himself back to play. [Tuesday] for us was a lighter day in terms of film and we let him stay back home and rest. [Wednesday], he came in and watched. But I think medical felt it was good to give him another day to try to recuperate.”
The league recently recommended booster shots for all players and coaches. Donovan confirmed those are available for the team but said it’s a personal choice.
“I think when people were getting vaccinated, there was a thought that maybe you could not get COVID. And obviously, that’s not the case,” Donovan said. “And I think we’re all finding out more and more about the virus and what’s happening. And there’s a new variant that’s out there right now. I don’t know how that impacts us or how much the vaccinations you’ve had in the past protect you against that.
“But I think it’s hard for medical and the vaccination piece, people are still getting it. So the feeling is maybe the symptoms would not be as severe if you’re unvaccinated. But you just have to be careful and try to do the best job we can. But I think everybody in the league, not only us, is dealing with this. You’re going to have situations where your team is going to lose guys.”