CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls will be without two assistant coaches for at least their playoff opener against the Milwaukee Bucks after Chris Fleming and Damian Cotter tested positive for COVID-19, coach Billy Donovan said.
Donovan said the team found out Friday morning that Fleming — Chicago’s lead assistant — and Cotter tested positive. He said they were experiencing mild symptoms and will not travel to Milwaukee for Game 1 of their first-round series Sunday.
Donovan said he was not sure how long they will be out. Game 2 is Wednesday in Milwaukee, with the best-of-seven series shifting to Chicago for Game 3 on April 22.
“One of the things that I really have been happy with and pleased with and I think it speaks to the staff is whether it was myself being out or John Bryant being out or different staff members being out, we’ve all worked together and collaborated and everyone’s kind of stayed involved,” Donovan said. “I know when I was out, I tried to help as much as I can. Chris will try to help. So will Damian.”
The Bulls were hit hard by a COVID outbreak in December and had several games postponed. Donovan tested positive late that month with mild symptoms, and Fleming acted as head coach for the five games he missed.
“I was fortunate,” said Donovan, who found out he tested positive as he was going to work out. “I know a lot of people who have really had a very, very hard time with it. It’s been really, really unfortunate what people have had to deal with. But I was very fortunate that … my symptoms weren’t too severe.”
Chicago finished sixth in the Eastern Conference at 46-36 for its first winning record since the 2015-16 team went 42-40. The Bulls made the playoffs for the first time since a first-round knockout by Boston in 2017. And they ended a string of four consecutive losing seasons.