Bulls coach Billy Donovan enters COVID protocols after team-wide outbreak

Just one day after he gave the all clear following their massive outbreak, Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan landed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Donovan entered COVID-19 protocols on Friday morning, according to ESPN’s Jamal Collier, which made him the fourth head coach to do so this season. Bulls assistant Chris Fleming will serve as the team’s acting head coach in his place.

Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle and Sacramento Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry are the other three coaches to enter protocols this season.

The Bulls are next set to host the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. It’s unclear how long Donovan will be out.

Bulls returned to full strength on Thursday

The Bulls were one of the first teams to deal with an organization-wide outbreak earlier this month. At the peak, the team had 10 players sidelined due to the coronavirus and had two games postponed. They lost their game on Wednesday to the Toronto Raptors, too — though it was the Raptors who were shorthanded and didn’t have enough players to fill the roster.

Bulls star Zach LaVine rejoined the team on Thursday, and was the last player still out due to the coronavirus. Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones Jr. are still out due to injuries, but otherwise the Bulls are healthy.

“We're starting to get a little bit more whole," Donovan said Thursday. "We went from trying to add players to our team to looking at what our roster is going to look like going forward. ... You're thinking you don't have enough roster spots and 24 hours later, you have maybe too many roster spots. We'll have to figure all that out."

More than 120 players have entered coronavirus protocols this month alone, which has prompted the league to postpone several games in recent weeks as teams are struggling to fill rosters. The NBA is about 97% vaccinated — Donovan has said that the Bulls are completely vaccinated — and about 65% of eligible players have received a booster shot.

Commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this week that there aren’t any plans to pause the season, something the NHL opted to do. The NBA is reportedly finalizing a deal with the Players Association that will relax coronavirus protocols. The league is also requiring all teams to host a vaccine booster event by the end of the year to try and get players, staff, families and others fully protected.

Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls
The Bulls returned to full strength on Thursday after 10 players were out due to the coronavirus. Now, Billy Donovan has entered protocols. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)