With matchups against the Pistons (Tuesday) and Raptors (Thursday) postponed, the next game on the Chicago Bulls' schedule is a home bout against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Dec. 19.
Tuesday morning, the NBA announced the tipoff time for that game is being changed from its original 2:30 p.m. CT start to 7:00 p.m. CT:
The Bulls, as of this writing, have 10 players in the NBA's health and safety protocols: Coby White, Javonte Green, DeMar DeRozan, Matt Thomas, Derrick Jones Jr., Ayo Dosunmu, Stanley Johnson, Zach LaVine, Troy Brown Jr. and Alize Johnson.
That list, and the fact that the Bulls have only eight players eligible to participate in a game, prompted the NBA to postpone the team's next two games.
Delaying Sunday's tipoff allows an additional window for teams to undergo COVID-19 testing — and for pregame testing results to be received. It's why so few matinee games were held last season, when daily testing for all teams defined that stage of the pandemic. The Bulls have undergone daily testing during their outbreak.
And, on a secondary level, a 7 p.m. CT start time allows teams to hold shootarounds if they so choose. In addition to playing games severely shorthanded, Bulls practices and shootarounds have been limited over the last two weeks.
Players in the league's health and safety protocols must remain in protocols for 10 days, or return two negative PCR tests within 24 hours, then clear cardiac screening before being cleared to play. By Dec. 19, White, Green, DeRozan (Dec. 15), Thomas (Dec. 17) and Jones Jr. (Dec. 18) will have passed 10 days in protocols. That doesn't mean one or all of them are guaranteed to be back, but a window for them to achieve eligibility is open.
When the Bulls return to action, they'll do so with a back-to-back set on Sunday (against the Lakers) and Monday, Dec. 20 (against the Rockets). Both are home games.