Bulls set to re-open facility, but will they be part of NBA resumption?
The Bulls are making plans to reopen the Advocate Center for voluntary, individual player workouts. But the NBA has yet to figure out the best way to resume the season or whether a lower-rung team like the Bulls will be involved.
A team spokesman wrote in an email that a phased reopening of the Advocate Center will begin on Wednesday. The note said the Bulls will "continue to work closely with state and local governments, as well as Rush Hospital's infectious disease specialist."
This move coincides with Mayor Lori Lightfoot's announcement that Chicago will move to Phase 3 of reopening June 3. All players and essential staff will adhere to NBA's protocols to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Advocate Center will remain closed to nonessential staff and media.
One question a team spokesman could not answer is whether the Bulls as a franchise officially support the idea of the Bulls playing more games this season.
With a 22-43 record, the Bulls were not a playoff contender when the season was suspended March 11. But as a young team that is supposed to be building for the future, the feeling is the Bulls would prefer to be part of an NBA resumption. The current coaching staff is expected to remain intact if the Bulls return to the court.
It's not clear how many Bulls players are currently in Chicago. Based on recent social media posts, it appears most are scattered around the country. Zach LaVine has spent the hiatus in his hometown of Seattle. Otto Porter is in Washington, D.C.
Back in March, guard Tomas Satoransky told a reporter from the Czech Republic that he would prefer cancellation of the NBA season.
What we do know is the NBA has been in negotiations with Disney World to hold games at the park's Wide World of Sports complex, a popular AAU destination.
One significant question is how many teams could comfortably and safely be housed in the Disney hotels? Many of the hotels in the area are designed for families on a budget who are expected to spend 16 hours per day in the parks. NBA players who are not allowed to leave the premises would be a tough fit.
The Bulls have the 11th-best record in the Eastern Conference and 24th-best record in the league, so they'll be left out if the NBA's return-to-play plan includes 20 teams or less.
There has been talk of an expanded playoff format or a World Cup-style pool play system to replace the early rounds. One idea that does seem reasonable is the league wouldn't ask a team like the Bulls to endure a three-week training camp just to play a few meaningless regular-season games.
If all 30 teams are included in the resumption, there figures to be some sort of play-in tournament for the final playoff spots in each conference. Commissioner Adam Silver has expressed hope of completing a full-length playoff in order to crown a worthy champion.
The league held a Board of Governors conference call on Friday afternoon. Shams Charania from The Athletic reported that Silver is targeting July 31 as a date to resume play, and four scenarios are being discussed: 16 teams, straight to playoffs; 20 teams with pool play; 22 teams with some warm-up games and a play-in tournament; or all 30 teams, with a 72-game regular season and play-in tournament.
According to ESPN, the 22-team format being discussed includes teams that are within six games of a playoff spot, which would be Washington in the East and Portland, New Orleans, San Antonio, Sacramento and Phoenix in the West. The Bulls are eight games out of eighth place, so they would be left out.
A vote on Silver's final proposal is expected to happen Thursday.