No bubble, but Windy City Bulls making plans for relaunch
Too many small businesses have been forced to close during to the pandemic.
Fortunately for suburban basketball fans, the Windy City Bulls won't be among them, unless something really strange happens. Windy City is owned and operated by the NBA Bulls, as a player development arm, so the team will be back on the court, hopefully in November.
But it will be a long break. The G-League shut down when the NBA did last March and the Bulls decided not to send a Windy City squad to the upcoming G-League bubble at Disney World.
"That's probably the most disappointing part. We had our best season off the court with attendance and everything else," Windy City Bulls team president Brad Seymour said. "We're going to go 20 months between home games.
"Basically we're looking at the next couple of months and into the summer as relaunching this franchise -- four years after we did it the first time."
Even if Windy City decided to field a team this season, it wouldn't have played in Hoffman Estates. The plan is to do a shortened season and single-elimination playoffs in Orlando, inside the same buildings where NBA teams played last summer.
One concern the Bulls had was if they needed their two-way players, would they be able to leave the bubble right away or would they have to go through a quarantine period before joining the NBA club? Two-way players typically split time between the NBA team and G-League affiliate.
As it stands, two-way players Adam Mokoka and Devon Dotson will be able to stay with the NBA Bulls all season. Mokoka got some playing time in Friday's narrow loss to the Lakers. And it seems like Dotson's presence is appreciated by Coby White. The two were friends during their high school years in North Carolina and the Bulls released video of White and Dotson bouncing around in the tunnel, then leading the team onto the court before Friday's game at the Staples Center.
The Bulls will play the Los Angeles Clippers in the same building on Sunday before returning home to face Boston on Tuesday. Coach Billy Donovan is hopeful Lauri Markkanen and Ryan Arcidiacono will be cleared to play in that game after being sidelined by safety protocols.
"It was really a basketball-focused decision," Seymour said. "The NBA changed the two-way rules, that was a big thing. It was a lot of weighing the pros and cons of it. We obviously decided on let's keep our guys on the NBA team and we'll call it a year."
Windy City head coach Damian Cotter and assistant Henry Domercant were already absorbed into the Bulls' player development staff. Seymour said if Windy City had played in the bubble, the team would have named a new coach, because the plan all along was for Cotter to stay with the NBA squad.
One negative is Windy City had success with player development last year. Mokoka and center Simi Shittu had some big games last in the season and both would have been available to return this year.
And word was getting out about the quality of play in the G-League, where every player was either a college star or international prospect. Seymour is hopeful the fans will come back whenever the team returns to playing in Hoffman Estates. The home building changed names recently and is now known as Now Arena.
"We made some giant strides last season," Seymour said. "Most of our weekends were close to, if not selling out. Just saw a lot of momentum in the community. That's part of the disappointment in all this is you see that momentum just come to a screeching halt.
"Now we're going to have to try to start it up again. The community is starting to get to know us. When guys are being assigned to us from Chicago, it's cool for the fans to be able to see a guy play with us and the next night they're playing with Chicago. Looking ahead with this commitment to player development, fans are going to see more and more of that."
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