The NBA and NBPA announced Tuesday that they agreed on a program that will allow each of the eight teams not invited to the league's restart to conduct voluntary group workouts at their respective team facilities.
A statement from the NBA said the program will begin in September, involve teams living in controlled, "campus-like" environments, and feature stringent health and safety guidelines. The Bulls will use the Advocate Center and follow league-mandated safety protocols for their back-and-forth to private accommodations.
The program will be divided into two phases.
- Sept. 14 - Sept. 20: Voluntary, individual workouts continue (in-market Bulls players have been engaging in those at the Advocate Center for some time). Daily COVID-19 testing for all participating players and staff begins.
- Sept. 21 - Oct. 6: Group activities ("practices, skill or conditioning sessions and intra-squad scrimmages") can begin. Daily COVID-19 testing continues. While participation is voluntary, each team will be required to "create its own campus-like environment in its home city," including private residential quarters.
Eligible for participation in the program are players under NBA contract, and up to five players inked to G League deals with the team. For the Bulls, that makes Adam Mokoka, and the rest of the Windy City Bulls depth chart, available if they desire.
While more details have yet to emerge, the plan seems in keeping with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts' stated desire to "replicate in every way the protocol that’s been established for Orlando."
The Bulls’ new front office regime has been in favor of organized offseason activities for the so-called "Delete 8" for some time. Newly-minted executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas said at his end-of-season press conference that not playing in the restart “puts us (the Bulls) in a competitive disadvantage.” And indeed, the Bulls are among the youngest teams in the league, fresh off a disappointing 22-43 season.
These group activities provide an opportunity for Karnišovas and Co. to further evaluate crucial cogs of the core in person. While the Bulls will likely be without cap space this offseason regardless of the ultimate financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re poised to have money to spend during the free agency period 2021. Any period of organized activities will help the new regime get acquainted with the roster and staff as it preps for the uncertain days ahead.
Could that staff include a new head coach? The Bulls also have a vacancy to fill after Jim Boylen's firing on the final day of the regular season.
Whether that looming Phase 1 start date of Sept. 14 accelerates Karnišovas' search remains to be seen.
NBC Sports Chicago's Rob Schaefer contributed