Bulls coach Billy Donovan is admittedly heading into uncharted waterJoe Cowleyon March 12, 2021 at 1:34 am

He’s not alone, as every NBA coach will be dealing with load management and trying to find practice time, but Donovan said on Thursday that it will be a feel thing for all the coaches.

There was no shootaround on Thursday morning.

There won’t be a shootaround on Friday, either.

The next logical practice day? Maybe on Monday, and that’s written in pencil, not pen.

The NBA coaching manual has a lot of information in it, but five games over a seven-night span and a lot of the same throughout the second half of the season? There’s no chapter on how to navigate that.

That’s what Bulls coach Billy Donovan, and really all the NBA coaches, have to figure out.

“There’s three parts to that; just your eyes what you are watching to see how guys are moving and playing,’’ Donovan said, when asked how he and his staff will try and load manage. “The other part is taking their inventory, how they are feeling, what they are going through physically, mentally, emotionally. And then the medical part plays a big piece just in terms of the loads, managing that and looking at the numbers and how they are feeling, so obviously if guys are ok and able to play and want to play, we certainly want to do that.

“I think it’s extremely important that players are honest about how they are feeling and what they are going through. We should be as most teams maybe fresher physically in just having some time off but obviously a little bit rusty in some other areas. But as this second half unfolds and the number of games we have, I think there has to be a daily check in to see where guys are at physically and is it a wise choice to maybe have somebody sit out a game to kind of recuperate and get ready for the next one.’’

What Donovan has on his side with this roster is options.

He’s been very creative in combinations and matchups throughout the first half, unconcerned with how deep he’s gone with his bench.

All of that will be in play over the next few months.

What will initially be difficult is finding practice time to build up the conditioning of both Lauri Markkanen {right shoulder} and Otto Porter Jr. (back), who had missed a significant number of games entering the break.

Both returned against the 76ers, but both were admittedly rusty.

“If a guy is feeling good and he wants to play, I think you have to side with the player,’’ Donovan said of his mentality. “I think just for myself or medical to say, ‘No, you are not playing tonight. This is our decision and you are going to sit.’ I don’t think that’s good because I think you want a competitive group.’’


Porter had no reaction to rumors that he could be headed for a buyout, insisting that the business of basketball goes through his representation, and all has been quiet on that end.

“I have no idea, to be honest with you, I have no idea,’’ Porter said of a buyout scenario. “Like I said, I’ve just been in the gym every day, trying to get my body back, and whatever is going on out there, I have no idea about. My agent would probably tell me if something was going on, but he hasn’t said anything.’’

Porter was making $28.4 million this season, but headed for free agency this summer. Asked if he was putting an emphasis on showcasing his talent the second half, especially after a mostly-injured first half, Porter downplayed that as well.

“I’m just focused on the team right now,’’ Porter said.

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