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Bulls lose Matt Thomas to NBA health and safety protocols, fourth player in 8 days

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The Chicago Bulls lost another player to COVID-19 safety protocols Wednesday, marking the fourth person to enter the NBA’s protocols in eight days.

Bulls guard Matt Thomas joined DeMar DeRozan, Javonte Green and Coby White in coronavirus protocols, the team announced, and did not play with the team in their 115-92 loss to the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday night. Thomas did make the trip to Cleveland initially.

With four players out, the team has now been granted a hardship exception — which they used to sign forward Stanley Johnson from the G League’s South Bay Lakers. Johnson will join the Bulls on Saturday for their game against the Heat in Miami.

Thomas has averaged 1.5 points in eight games off the bench this season for the Bulls. He finished with three points and three rebounds in a season-high 19 minutes against the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

The Bulls’ coronavirus outbreak started shortly after their game last week against the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets have lost five players — LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee, Terry Rozier and Ish Smith — to health and safety protocols. In the days that followed that game, White, Green and DeRozan were all sidelined.

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant also entered health and safety protocols Wednesday.

The NBA requires players who have tested positive for the coronavirus to remain in isolation for 10 days, or until they return two negative PCR test results at least 24 hours apart. The Bulls are completely vaccinated.

Zach LaVine led Chicago on Wednesday with 23 points and nine rebounds against the Cavaliers, and Lonzo Ball added 19 points while shooting 4-of-9 from the 3-point line. Darius Garland dropped 24 points to lead Cleveland, which snapped a two-game losing skid with the win.

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