The Chicago Bulls' five-game West Coast trip got off to a rocky start before it began when Nikola Vučević landed in the league's health and safety protocols Thursday morning. The team confirmed the development on its official injury report for Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors after multiple outlets, including NBC Sports Chicago, first reported the news via sources.
The All-Star center will miss multiple games and be sidelined for at least 10 days or until he returns two negative PCR tests in a 24-hour period, sources said, because he tested positive for COVID-19. NBC Sports Chicago reported last week that the Bulls are fully vaccinated.
Vučević spent time guarding Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid during two games over a four-day stretch last week. Embiid is one of three 76ers who tested positive for COVID-19, either during the two-game stretch against the Bulls or just after it.
Asked before the second game against the 76ers last Saturday at the United Center if the 76ers' developments created any additional safety measures for the Bulls, head coach Billy Donovan said at that point that no additional testing had occurred. It's unknown if that changed. Vaccinated players aren't required to undergo daily testing.
"Obviously, the medical staff handles all that stuff and the league has been heavily involved in that," Donovan said then. "We just obviously follow all their protocol. There's nothing for us (Saturday) coaching-staff wise. I'm sure medical talks to players about whatever they have to do."
Vučević, who has battled an early-season shooting slump, broke out in Wednesday's victory over the Mavericks, scoring 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and 4 assists.
Reserve center Tony Bradley is a possibility to replace Vučević in the lineup. Donovan also is comfortable using small-ball lineups. The Bulls also brought in reinforcements in the form of 2020 second-round pick Marko Simonović, who was recalled from the G League Thursday.
The hope, of course, is that the Bulls don't have a situation develop like the 76ers did in which multiple players entered the league's protocols. The Bulls flew to San Francisco Thursday afternoon in advance of their Friday showdown with the NBA-best Warriors.
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