Bulls HC Billy Donovan in NBA's Health and Safety Protocols amid COVID Outbreak

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 24, 2021

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 11: Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls reacts against the Miami Heat during the second half at FTX Arena on December 11, 2021 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan entered the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Friday.

ESPN's Jamal Collier reported the news and noted assistant Chris Fleming will serve as the team's interim head coach.

Donovan becomes the fourth NBA head coach to enter the league's COVID protocols:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Chicago's Billy Donovan is the fourth NBA coach to enter into Covid protocols, including the Lakers' Frank Vogel, Indiana's Rick Carlisle and Sacramento's Alvin Gentry. Bulls assistant Chris Fleming will be acting head coach in Donovan's absence.

Three of the Bulls' last five games have been postponed because of COVID-19 issues around the league.

Chicago had as many as 10 players in the protocols this month, but all of them cleared and are expected to play in Sunday's game against the Indiana Pacers, per Collier.

The Bulls are set to enter one of the busiest portions of their schedule with five games in seven days beginning with the Pacers clash.

Meanwhile, Donovan said Sunday he was surprised the team's coaching staff had yet to feel the impacts of the coronavirus despite the high number of positive tests within the roster.

"I asked that exact question two days ago to our medical people," Donovan told reporters. "We're around these guys. We're all together. We're in locker rooms, on planes. We're in buses, we're in huddles. And the response I got was, 'Count yourself lucky.' So I don't think there's anything as much as we've been very fortunate."

Now he faces a potential 10-day quarantine that would likely make him miss at least the five aforementioned games before a possible return Jan. 3 against the Orlando Magic.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association were working on a plan that would allow players to return after six days based on test results. It's unclear whether coaches would have their wait period reduced as well.

Under that scenario, Donovan might miss only three games.

The Bulls have weathered injuries and the COVID-19 absences quite well so far this season. They have a 19-10 record, which is second in the Eastern Conference, and they won games Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers and Monday against the Houston Rockets in between postponements.

With the roster's COVID-19 issues in the rearview mirror for the time being, Chicago will look to keep rolling and emerge as a legitimate title contender in the East.