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Bulls will make first 2020-21 road trip without six players

/ by Rob Schaefer
Presented By Illinois Department of Transportation
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The Bulls will embark on their first road trip of the 2020-21 (pre)season without six players, Billy Donovan said after practice Tuesday.

Minutes later, the Bulls updated the NBA's official injury portal to reflect the following inactives for Wednesday's road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

  • Devon Dotson (Not With Team)
  • Adam Mokoka (Not With Team)
  • Tomáš Satoranský (Not With Team)
  • Garrett Temple (Not With Team - Self Isolating)
  • Denzel Valentine (Left Hamstring: Strain)
  • Thad Young (Left Lower Leg: Infection)

Dotson, Satoranský and Luke Kornet, who was not listed on the injury report, received excused absences for the Bulls' second preseason game against the Houston Rockets Sunday. What do excused absences mean, as it pertains to COVID-19? As the Kornet example indicates, it doesn't necessarily mean a player has tested positive for the virus. But it indicates something -- whether it be contact tracing, an isolation period following potential exposure, or any number of other considerations such as ensuring a false positive wasn't returned -- could be giving (or gave) the team pause. 

"They’re doing a lot of testing with us," Donovan said. "They’re trying to contact trace."

Donovan was talking generally. However, Kornet's quick clearance could shine a light on the situations of Dotson and Satoranský, who were late scratches Sunday -- a possible indication of the need to contact trace. 

Temple, who said he tested positive on Nov. 28, and Noah Vonleh, whose positive test was first reported by Yahoo! Sports, remain the only two confirmed infections among Bulls players. Donovan last addressed Temple's status on Dec. 12:

 

"He's still in the NBA protocol," Donovan said. "There's a process that he's gonna have to go through in terms of multiple negative tests and then he's gotta go through a cardiovascular test and then he can get back on the floor and get reacclimated to the team. But he's in the process of going through all those steps right now. I don't know what his test was like yesterday or today, but until he gets several negative tests and gets into the protocol of what he has to do physically to get back, we probably don't have a timetable for him quite yet."

Mokoka has been listed as "not with team" since the Bulls' first preseason game. Donovan cited travel hurdles for his absence before Friday night's contest. Mokoka is originally from France.

"I think coming back with COVID and certainly passport those kind of things it's been really challenging," Donovan said. "He is in town now. There'll be, like the rest of the guys that come in, some protocols and things that he'll have to go through... I'm not quite sure, because it was [Friday, Dec. 11] afternoon when I got a chance to see him briefly. So I'm not quite sure what actually all the steps that he's going to have to take before he can get with our team."

Young was a day-of scratch for the Bulls' first preseason game with a leg infection, which Donovan said has improved on Dec. 12. Young missed the Bulls' second preseason contest as well. Denzel Valentine said he "tweaked" his hamstring in November, and also missed the Bulls' first two preseason games. He previously said he was hopeful to return for their back-to-back bouts with the Thunder on Dec. 16 and 18, but that desire won't come to fruition.

"We’re just trying to take all the guidelines that have been given to us by CDC and the NBA and our medical officials and just trying to make the best decisions to keep everyone safe," Donovan said after Tuesday's practice, which precedes the Bulls' flight to Oklahoma City. "Once you start traveling and start getting out and going to different places, you probably open yourself to being a little more susceptible. We have to take the necessary steps to try to keep all of us safe."

With those six absences, and the waiving of Vonleh, which the team made official Tuesday, the Bulls are currently slated to have 13 active players for Wednesday's game.

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