Bulls

Bulls optimistic about Dwyane Wade's progress 

Bulls optimistic about Dwyane Wade's progress 

Dwyane Wade was in full lather after the morning shootaround at Madison Square Garden, as optimism increases that he'll be back for the Bulls this season after suffering a right elbow injury a couple weeks ago.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg declined to say whether he feels Wade will be back before the end of the regular season and Wade declined comment altogether, but with the increased intensity of Wade's workouts suggests there's a light at the end of the tunnel — be it a probable playoff showing or sometime sooner.

"It's a day by day thing with Dwyane now," Hoiberg said. "He's feeling better but obviously there's a lot of work to do as far as getting his strength back."

Wade went through his first workout before the Bulls played Cleveland last Thursday at the United Center, and he still isn't cleared for contact so there's still more hurdles to clear before one can realistically expect Wade to get back on the floor.

"He has a little pain in that elbow when he's done working out," Hoiberg said. "But the important thing is he's making progress and hopefully he'll continue to take steps in the right direction and we'll get him back at some point in the season."

The fact the Bulls are going for five straight wins and playing better basketball all around belies the fact they are a better team when Wade is playing — one can just assume the Bulls can find a way to blend this new identity with a guy who can score 25 on a given night.

Especially someone who can alleviate the pressure from Jimmy Butler, the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

"That's what great players, hall of fame players do," Butler said. "They pick up where they left off. I know he's gonna do that. I'm constantly in his ear, he's constantly in mine about what he sees, what I see. It's different when you're not playing and you're watching. There's a lot of things we can be better at."

Butler suffered the same injury in the 2014-15 season and missed a month, so he knows Wade will have to go through the mental test of getting bumped on the elbow again through regular contact and not worrying about it.

"We definitely need that guy, as everybody knows," Butler said. "We want him to come back where he's not protecting anything, he's hooping and playing 110 percent."

NBA Orlando restart: What are chances 2020 season sinks or swims?

NBA Orlando restart: What are chances 2020 season sinks or swims?

As it stands right now, the NBA appears well on track to begin its 22-team season restart on July 30 in Orlando.

The question, though, is if it will finish what it starts.

On the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh explained the array of apprehensions that come with the experiment the league is about to embark on. From the health and safety issues that come with a still-raging pandemic, to the mental health concerns facing a player population under relative isolation, and more, pulling this bubble off would be a grand logistical feat by the NBA.

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So, what odds did Haberstroh give the season ending as currently planned, and with a champion crowned? 50-50. A coin flip.

“I know that’s a cop-out,” Haberstroh said, “but I think it’s about a 90 percent chance we see a tip-off on July 30, and I think it’s going to be less so at the end of the playoffs. Because I think, we don’t know how this coronavirus is going to react to this bubble, we don’t know how disciplined the players will be in respect to staying in the bubble and respecting the social distancing rules and the mask rules.

“Everything looks good on paper. The 113-page protocol the NBA gave out was very thorough, an epidemiologist that I talked to said that it was a really solid plan. Of course, as Adam Silver says, it’s not risk-free. There’s risk in this bubble, and I think, when I mentioned the 50/50 proposition to an executive two days ago, he responded, ‘I don’t think that’s pessimistic enough.’ And I thought I was on the wrong side of that — I thought, I was like ‘Is that too pessimistic here, 50/50?’ And he assured me that there is concern around the league about — not Week 1, I don’t think it’s the first month in the bubble that teams worry about. I think it’s just as the bubble continues, Month 2, Month 3, is that people let their guard down and slowly just get a little bit too comfortable with the surroundings, and that’s what you have to guard against.”

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The NBA released the latest results from its mandatory “Phase 2” testing on Thursday, reporting that 25 of 351 (7.1%) players tested since June 23 were positive for COVID-19, along with 10 of 884 (1.1%) team staffers.

“Phase 2” of the league’s restart plan saw the 22 invited teams return to their home markets (the one exception being the Toronto Raptors, who traveled straight to Orlando) for restricted workouts at team facilities. An influx of positives under those circumstances was to be expected. In fact, the Nuggets, Clippers and Nets all recently reportedly shuttered their facilities on a temporary basis after positive tests in their respective organizations — though the Nets have since reopened theirs, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski

The hope for the league is that the invited teams can enter Orlando as infection-free as possible, and from there, daily testing, symptom monitoring, contact tracing, and targeted sanitation and social guidelines can mitigate potential infection, spread, or, worse yet, outbreak.

But there are concerns on that front, as well, starting with the testing protocols surrounding the Disney employees that will staff the bubble.

“The biggest worry, to me, is the Disney staffers who are not being quarantined, who are not being tested day-to-day,” Haberstroh said. “Adam Silver on a recent call with reporters said that they are trying to find a subset, or negotiate with Disney, a subset of their Disney staffers who are coming from homes or an environment where there’s as high as 15% positive tests in Orange County, Fla., they’re trying to figure out a way to test those individuals before they come into the bubble. Right now they are not being tested.”

Should the league keep its players sufficiently insulated from said staffers, perhaps that won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. But given the unpredictability of the virus, and the unpredictability of individual human behavior, it’s impossible to yet know exactly how the bubble experiment will play out. How many positive tests will there be in the bubble? How many positives would warrant another season shutdown? Will positive tests on different teams be treated differently based on specific risk factors — e.g. age of coach? For that matter, will older coaches be allowed to walk the sidelines? Will we even see quality basketball? Could players be at higher injury risk after a months-long hiatus? Will anyone break the bubble? Is this all even worth it?

As Haberstroh noted Silver saying, there’s no risk-free option for resuming a contact sport during a global pandemic, especially considering all the variables the NBA brings with it. The above questions are nebulous for now. But answers may soon rear their head.

Listen to the rest of the conversation, in which Haberstroh and Co. discuss the NBA's restart, Zion Williamson's return to action and the state of the Bulls' rebuild, here or via the embedded player above.

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Tom Haberstroh details the NBA Bubble in Orlando

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Tom Haberstroh details the NBA Bubble in Orlando

The first game in the NBA Bubble in Orlando is scheduled for July 30 for the resumption of the 2019-2020 NBA season. 

Kevin Anderson and Rob Schaefer are joined by NBC Sports NBA insider Tom Haberstroh to discuss the details of the bubble and if the top four seeds should select their opponent in the playoffs. Later, Tom shares his thoughts on the Bulls' front office changes.

(1:14) - Will the NBA finish the rest of the season?

(9:11) - How concerned is the NBA with the mental health of the players in the bubble?

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(17:35) - This will be the hardest championship ever won

(30:18) - Should the top four seeds be able to select their playoff opponent?

(43:35) - What does the rest of the NBA think of the Bulls' front office changes?

Listen here or below.

Bulls Talk Podcast

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