Bulls are protocol-free, and Lonzo Ball is hoping it stays that way

Monotony might be Lonzo Ball’s best friend the last month.

The way the Bulls point guard described it his days have been pretty simple. To the Advocate Center for a practice or shootaround, to the United Center for a game, in the hotel room on the road, and relaxing in the compound for home games.

That’s it.

“I don’t really do too much,” Ball said. “I just play and go back home really. There’s not a lot of situations where I can probably get Covid, and I’m just thankful I haven’t gotten it yet.”

So is the former No. 2 draft pick on to something or just very lucky? Considering the science, it’s likely the latter, but hey, if it ain’t sick, don’t fix it.

Ball – at least as of Thursday – was one of the few Bulls regulars not to be in the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols this season.

It’s a very short list actually, with Ball, Alex Caruso, and Tony Bradley – if he counts as a regular.

As bad as the roster was decimated, however, it seems like the dark days are behind the organization for the time being. There aren’t many NBA teams that can state that right now.

The Big Three of Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine were finally reunited, as Vucevic was down with a positive test back in November, DeRozan a few weeks ago and was already back, and then LaVine made his return in Thursday’s practice, feeling good that he only missed two games because of the postponements.

LaVine was part of that last big group of Bulls players that went into the protocol, along with Alize Johnson, Ayo Dosunmu and Troy Brown Jr. All four were cleared, as was Devon Dotson, who just went in earlier this week, but already tested out.

The only two players that didn’t practice were because of just good old fashion NBA injuries.

Caruso was still dealing with a sprain in his left foot and was going to be shut down for about a week before the medical staff re-evaluates where he’s at, and Derrick Jones Jr. was sidelined with a hamstring tweak, but it wasn’t believed to be serious.

That was it, as coach Billy Donovan reported not one single player left in the health and safety protocol.

As a matter of fact, the Bulls roster was overcrowded, after veteran Ersan Ilyasova and guard Mac McClung were added as hardship exemptions before the Bulls knew they would get this healthy, this quick.

What’s even more amazing than the number of players able to practice? What little damage the Bulls took in the standings throughout this entire protocol ordeal.

They started getting hit after the Nov. 29 win over the Hornets, and since then have only lost two games – the back-to-back in Cleveland and Miami.

Yes, the schedule will catch up with them at some point with three games to make-up, but sitting with the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference entering this weekend not only says a lot about the depth that the front office added, but the mindset that continued being reinforced in the locker room.

“I mean we harp on it every day, just being resilient,” Ball said. “We want to be one of the hardest-playing teams in the league.

“It gets back to the resilient part. We had guys step up. We have an identity we want to play with as a whole. We address that whenever we can meet. Guys come in with the mindset that they want to work hard and play hard, and we start from there and go from there.”

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