After a four-day break that featured a game against the Boston Celtics being postponed, the Bulls jetted out for a two-game road blip that features stops in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder (Jan. 15) and Dallas to play the Mavericks (Jan. 17) on Thursday.
Here are availability updates on players currently rehabbing injuries, reintegrating after health and safety protocol entries or recovering from COVID-19:
Otto Porter Jr.
Porter left a Jan. 8 matchup with the Lakers after just six minutes played with back spasms. He missed their Jan. 10 game against the Clippers with what was officially termed a lower back strain.
He returned to practice for the first time on Thursday and reported feeling good.
"Just really, really tight back," he said when asked to describe the ailment. "But right now, I feel good. One of our games was [postponed]. It gave me an extra day or two rest it and get treatment for it and today."
Porter said he doesn't yet know if he'll play against the Thunder Friday. Head coach Billy Donovan reported feeling "optimistic" about his chances, indicating that he will travel with the team and is progressing well.
Asked about a potential minutes restriction or ramp-up for Porter, Donovan said he planned to wait and see how Porter feels Friday and consult the team's medical staff.
Markkanen and Ryan Arcidiacono returned to practice from a spell in the NBA's health and safety protocols (close contact) on Tuesday. Markkanen had another good day of practice Thursday, Donovan said.
"He's on track (to play Friday)," Donovan said of Markkanen. "He's practiced, he's had a couple days while we were in [Los Angeles] to work out and to get himself ready, and then he's had two practices being back, so that part of it's been good. So we'll have to see... He should be available and ready to play tomorrow."
Chandler Hutchison and Tomáš Satoranský
Both have tested positive for COVID-19, with Hutchison's positive being announced by Donovan on Jan. 1 and Satoranský's Jan. 3. Both entered protocol in between the Bulls' Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 games against the Washington Wizards.
Donovan said Hutchison has been cleared to return to the Bulls' building, but isn't fully reintegrated yet.
"He has done some of the cardiovascular testing. He can shoot. He can do some of those things," Donovan said. "But obviously with one day, two days of doing, he still has a little bit of a ways to go before he can get back to really being a guy that’s going to be out there every single day."
NBA protocols require infected, symptomatic players -- which, by Donovan's account, Hutchison was -- to sit out 10 days from when symptoms subside, undergo cardiac screening and work out individually for two days before being allowed to fully return.
Satoranský, meanwhile, is still quarantining away from the team. Per Donovan, he is "hopefully a day or two away" from being cleared to enter the facility.
Neither will travel for the mini road swing. The Bulls return to Chicago Jan. 18 to take on the new-look Houston Rockets.