Bulls' Tomáš Satoranský relieved to have frustrating quarantine in past

K.C. Johnson
·3 min read

Satoranský returns after nine-day quarantine period originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Christmas came early for Tomáš Satoranský.

It arrived in the form of him getting cleared from the NBA’s quarantine process one day earlier than he expected and practicing fully Tuesday with the Bulls. Satoranský didn’t even rule out being available on a limited basis for Wednesday’s regular-season opener against the Atlanta Hawks.

Satoranský landed in the league’s safety protocol on Dec. 13 after exposure to Noah Vonleh, who announced he tested positive for COVID-19. Satoransky never tested positive but had to remain quarantined for a period of time mandated by the league based on closeness and intensity of exposure to a positive player.

“Obviously, it was annoying. It sucked. You’re practicing and working hard for eight months and then this happens to you,” Satoranský said. “I’m just one of the players who is probably going to have to go through this and I’m glad it was just preseason.”

Devon Dotson, who is on a two-way contract with the Bulls, also returned to practice for the first time.  Luke Kornet, who also was quarantined but for a lesser period of time, traveled with the Bulls for their two preseason games in Oklahoma City last week.

“Being able to practice, I’m in a better mood but it was very tough for me being at home and not being able to work out or do anything,” Satoranský said. “Just self-quarantine myself. You have to be mentally strong and be ready to come back and accept the role you will have after this, so I wouldn’t see anything positive out of it. It really tests you mentally and is another challenge you have to go through this season.”

Satoranský's situation is another example of the potentially disjointed nature of this season that many teams might have to endure. Bulls coach Billy Donovan addressed the impact such situations can have on the playing rotation.

“Especially when you consider we’re all going to start traveling here relatively soon. So we’ve got to remain flexible,” Donovan said. “There’s going to be guys who are going to be available some nights and not available other nights.

“When a guy is out, the hard part is communicating with them to find out when they actually feel like they’re back and they’re able to get their timing and their endurance and they feel like they’re in a good position and place to be able to play. It’s just the way it is and something we’re going to have to be dealing with constantly.”

Satoranský missed the final three preseason games. He never showed any symptoms of the virus, which made his situation all the more frustrating.

“I was in the locker room with him for some time and because of that I had to talk to NBA and explain the situation and that was why they felt like it’s the best to keep me for 10 days, nine days in quarantine,” Satoranský said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen at the beginning and then they kind of told me that so at least I knew that I have to be patient.

“Every day I went to test and it was all negative, but you really don’t know. You don’t need to have symptoms, so that’s probably the toughest part. Because mentally you still feel like you could get it and that was probably the worst part. It’s very difficult because I am the guy who barely misses practices and workouts, so it was extra hard for me.”

The Bulls and Satoranský haven’t played a regular-season game since March. The veteran guard was already excited and hungry, but he said this experience has him appreciating the small details of practicing even more.

He said his conditioning level at Tuesday’s practice surprised him. Unlike the quarantine situation, that’s a good kind of surprise.

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