CHICAGO (CBS) — The NBA postponed the Chicago Bulls’ game against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on Wednesday because to an outbreak that left the Raptors with fewer than the league’s required eight players.
COVID-19 has forced the Bulls to postpone three games in the last two weeks. The Bulls’ home game against the Detroit Pistons (Dec. 14) and away game against the Raptors (Dec. 15) have been postponed by the NBA (Dec. 16). The NBA suspended the Bulls from all group activities for a week to allow 10 players, including stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, to clear COVID-19 guidelines.
DeRozan, Derrick Jones Jr., Coby White, Javonte Green, and Troy Brown Jr. have all cleared the COVID-19 protocols since then. Devon Dotson was added to the team’s list of injured players on Tuesday, raising the total to six.
Following the postponement, the Bulls won two games, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 115-110 on Sunday and the Houston Rockets 133-118 on Monday.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Raptors were down to seven players on Wednesday morning when OG Anunoby entered league protocols. The Raptors were also without Khem Birch due to injuries, as well as Goran Dragi, Justin Champagnie, and David Johnson.
The postponement is the league’s latest setback as another COVID-19 surge pushes teams to their depth limits. In December, the league’s health and safety protocols were applied to over 100 players. Eleven of those cases were attributed to the Bulls.
Despite the significant impact, NBA commissioner Adam Silver indicated Tuesday that the league’s schedule will not be paused.
Silver told ESPN, “Frankly, we’re having problems coming up with what the reasoning would be for pausing right now.” “This infection is not going away. “We’re going to have to get used to it.”
According to the league, 97 percent of players have been vaccinated, with Silver claiming that 65 percent have also received their booster shot. Because of the close proximity to his bout with COVID-19 in November, Bulls center Nikola Vuevi said “most” of his colleagues received the booster, but he was unable to acquire one.
Despite these promises, COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc around the league, thanks to a mix of two new variations and a holiday-fueled spike. According to Silver, the omicron variant has been particularly vicious, accounting for 90 percent of the league’s current cases.
Even once the Bulls’ own outbreak is over, the virus is predicted to wreak havoc. After Lou Williams and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot were the latest players to be sidelined by a team outbreak Wednesday morning, the Bulls are scheduled to play two games against the Atlanta Hawks next week. The Hawks presently have five players in COVID-19 procedures.
Silver said the league is considering alternative options to mitigate the impact of similar outbreaks, such as shorter quarantine periods for vaccinated players who are asymptomatic after a positive COVID-19 test. The bulk of Bulls players who tested positive for the virus, said to coach Billy Donovan, remained asymptomatic throughout their 10-day confinement.
On December 26, the Bulls will play the Indiana Pacers at the United Center. The game will be one of the last times that unvaccinated fans will be admitted to Bulls games in the near future.
In accordance with the city’s new indoor vaccination requirements, the team announced a new policy on Wednesday requiring evidence of immunization for all spectators over the age of 5 in attendance at the United Center.
Fans will be required to show a copy of their CDC vaccination record card or proof of a government-approved vaccine, as well as a photo ID if they are 16 or older. This guideline will be implemented for the first time on January 3 during the Bulls’ game against the Orlando Magic. It will also apply to Chicago Blackhawks games and other United Center events.
The NBA has yet to indicate when the games that have been postponed will be rescheduled.