Caution: Hard hats are still required at the United Center as blueprints for the Bulls’ rebuild remain fluid.
Rookie forward Chandler Hutchison is now being looked at in a different light after veteran Justin Holiday was traded to the Grizzlies on Thursday for Wayne Selden, MarShon Brooks and two second-round picks. On Friday night against the Pacers, Hutchison — the No. 22 overall draft pick last June — stepped into the starting wing spot vacated by Holiday, scoring four points in 26 minutes, 29 seconds in a 119-116 overtime loss. The focus now turns to what Hutchison can add to a lineup of Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn.
The five first-round picks started together for the first time this season, with an average age of 21.8 years and not one over 24.
“What it does is it gives Chandler an opportunity to play,’’ vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said of the new-look roster. “He’ll play some significant minutes, I would think. He has to live up to the standards that [coach] Jim [Boylen] wants and we want. But he’ll get opportunity. We still have some decisions to make with our roster. But our young guys will play.
“Looking long-term, big-picture, this is about the future. We think, a year and a half into the [rebuild], we have to focus on that. It’s hard to lose. You walk into the locker room and guys are competing, coaches are preparing, so that’s hard. But from my seat, [general manager] Gar [Forman’s] seat, ownership’s seat, we have to keep the big picture in mind. And that’s what we’re doing.’’
Holiday’s exit might not be the end of the roster changes. Talks for Robin Lopez have been heating up this week, as the Bulls would love to continue stockpiling draft picks and contracts that can be flipped quickly.
“There’s kind of been a little shoe-dangling over the past couple years,” Lopez said before Friday’s game when asked if he felt he’d be the next trade shoe to drop. “I’m looking to play basketball. That’s what I’m here to do. That’s what I enjoy doing. I like playing with these guys, so whatever happens, I’m going to go out there and work for my teammates.”
Lopez said he has spoken to management but doesn’t dwell on what-ifs.
“Whenever I see them, they say, ‘Keep working, Rolo, keep at it,’ ” Lopez said. “We’ve got a positive relationship going there.”
Jabari Parker might not be able to say the same. The former Simeon High School standout, who had been in Boylen’s doghouse, played for the first time in nine games Friday. He finished with four points.
Was it a chance for redemption for Parker, a free-agent signing this past offseason, or an attempt to showcase an obvious roster mistake?
“If we can acclimate him back into things, he’s going to get a chance,” Paxson said. “This league is about getting chances, even for players who have been through what Jabari has been through.’’
As for additional moves coming, Paxson played it close to the vest.
“Things have to align,” he said. “You can’t just force it. Again, if we can acquire young players, draft assets [and] maybe look at our roster and think there’s a better fit, we’ll go that route.”