Why Bulls' desire for ‘Delete 8’ formal offseason activities is facing hurdles

K.C. Johnson
NBC Sports Chicago

During his end-of-season conference call with reporters, Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas expressed hope and confidence that the league and players association would agree to some sort of formal offseason activity plan for the eight teams not invited to the NBA's restart near Orlando, Fla.

Speaking on their own conference call after the league's return-to-play for 22 teams was officially approved Friday, NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts only acknowledged that conversations are ongoing for such a scenario, and that any offseason program would require the same stringent safety protocols in place for the league's campus environment at Disney's Wide World of Sports.

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"We want the same (safety) standards to be met," Tatum said. "There have been conversations that we've been having with the players association on how to do that and whether or not we can do that. We know it's something that our teams would love to do, that some of the players would love to do. But, as Michele said, it has to be done in the right way. We'll continue having those conversations with Michele and her team on what that looks like."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, players association president Chris Paul and others also were on the call, the bulk of which detailed the plans and issues facing the 22 teams headed to the bubble. Roberts acknowledged the competitive concerns for the eight teams left behind, but emphasized that the same safety protocols must be "replicated in every way," which seems a big undertaking given how much time and energy will be focused on the 22 teams involved in the restart. Earlier this month, Karnisovas said other teams from the eight not invited shared the Bulls' desire for some type of formal activities.

Roberts, though, voiced concerns.

"Candidly, while I appreciate that there will be a bit of a layoff, I think there are some things these teams can do to get the guys that are not playing some [benefit] by their not being involved in Orlando. But unless we could replicate in every way the protocol that's been established for Orlando, I'd be - I'm being tame now - suspicious," Roberts said. "I think there are conversations that could be had if there's anything we can do with the other eight teams. I know there are some players, particularly young players, that seem concerned they're not getting enough [opportunities]. I think our teams are incredibly smart and creative and can come up with ways to get their guys engaged, if not now, before the season starts.

"But I am very concerned and frankly, my concern aside, our players, our teams are very concerned about any - in terms of play that doesn't have the same guarantees of safety and health that we've provided for the teams in Orlando. So yeah, never say never, but there's a standard. It's a standard that's got to be met, and if it's not met, next question, as far as I'm concerned."

The Advocate Center is open for voluntary player workouts that must follow safety protocols that include assistant coaches wearing gloves and masks while rebounding for players, whose numbers are limited. Many Bulls aren't currently in Chicago.

The Bulls last played on March 10. If the 2020-21 season doesn't begin until potentially a November training camp and season openers in December, it would represent a lengthy layoff unideal for any team, but especially a rebuilding one featuring a new management regime that is eager to form relationships and analyze personnel.

"We're facing a lengthy offseason. We will be in the practice facility a lot. We'll be spending a lot of time with each other," Karnisovas said on June 6. "Eight teams is a huge part of our league, and I think the league's interest is to support those teams as well as they can. The proposed structure of some practices and some scrimmages that we would like to see this summer, I think it's not too much to ask. But, again, I think we will get support from the league based on that."

All of which is to say: stay tuned.

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Why Bulls' desire for Delete 8 formal offseason activities is facing hurdles originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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