The Bulls are slumping… maybe right out of the postseason.
Especially with Zach LaVine now out due to the NBA’s coronavirus protocols.
Bulls guard Zach LaVine has entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson Thursday afternoon.
The length of LaVine’s absence is unknown, but expected to be multiple games, a source said.
The Bulls had a practice scheduled for Thursday, but were forced to call it off due to protocols, according to the team’s PR department.
This doesn’t necessarily mean LaVine contracted coronavirus. He could be out due merely to contact tracing.
But if LaVine doesn’t want to reveal a coronavirus diagnosis, whomever leaked this did him no favors. The reporting implicitly conveys a sense of gravity to the situation.
Hopefully, whatever coronavirus issue caused Chicago to cancel practice is limited in scope.
The Bulls (22-32) are 10th in the Eastern Conference. Teams finishing 7th-10th will participate in a play-in tournament for two playoff spots. This opens the door further for the Raptors (one game behind Chicago), Wizards (one game behind Chicago) and Cavaliers (two games behind Chicago).
This also gives the Bulls more incentive to tank. They owe the Magic a top-four-protected 2021 first-round pick from the Nikola Vucevic trade. Chicago currently has the NBA’s 10th-worst record.
Here are the odds the Bulls keep their pick, by lottery seed:
- No. 10 seed (current position): 14%
- No. 9 seed (half a game “back”): 20%
- No. 8 seed (one game “back”): 26%
- No. 7 seed (one game “back”): 32%
- No. 6 seed (two games “back”): 37%
- No. 5 seed (2.5 games “back”): 42%
- No. 4 seed (4.5 games “back”): 48%
Chicago could somewhat reasonably triple its odds of keeping the pick.
Of course, the Bulls – with Vucevic, Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky and Lauri Markkanen – won’t just lie down. But Chicago has also gone 3-8 since the trade deadline, and that was with LaVine mostly in the lineup. The Bulls might lose more without choosing to do so.
Chicago’s schedule the next two weeks:
- Friday: vs. Grizzlies
- Saturday: vs. Cavaliers
- Monday: at Celtics
- Wednesday: at Cavaliers
- Following Thursday: vs. Hornets
- Following Saturday: at Heat
- Following Monday: at Heat
- Following Wednesday: at Knicks
LaVine is such a driver of the Bulls’ offense. This could be a tough stretch without him.