In a remarkably quick turnaround, the Chicago Bulls picked up several All-Star caliber players and transformed from playoff bystanders to conference contenders in less than a year. But that momentum is now on pause, with 10 players on the roster now in what the NBA has called its health and safety protocols, which is effectively a quarantine for players who have tested positive for COVID-19.
On Monday, the NBA announced that the team’s next two games — December 14 versus the Detroit Pistons and December 16 versus the Toronto Raptors — would be postponed due to the exposure, which has affected “additional staff members” off the court as well as stars like Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. When players have tested positive, they must isolate away from the rest of the team for 10 days or submit two negative PCR tests in a 24-hour period in order to return.
The Bulls aren’t the only team currently facing some pandemic challenges — five Charlotte Hornets are quarantined ahead of the Monday night game against the Dallas Mavericks — but the shutdown in Chicago does represent the largest pandemic challenge faced during what is somehow now the league’s third pandemic season. While the NBA and other pro leagues faced frequent COVID postponements last season, the Bulls’ rescheduling marks the first time it has occurred since the vaccine has become widely available. As of November, the team was entirely vaccinated. Despite some notable holdouts, 95 percent of players had taken at least one vaccine dose as of late September.