Bulls coach Jim Boylen would like to see center Robin Lopez return next season

SHARE Bulls coach Jim Boylen would like to see center Robin Lopez return next season

ORLANDO, Fla. — Coach Jim Boylen wasn’t going to speak for his front office Friday.

And he wouldn’t hazard to guess where Bulls center Robin Lopez’s head will be at once summertime arrives and the free-agent frenzy gets underway.

But one thing is certain: Boylen would welcome a return by Lopez to see this rebuild through.

“It’s his decision, but any program, including us, would be grateful for him,’’ Boylen said. “If he wants to be a part of what we’re doing, that would be great. Obviously, the business side of it is the business side of it, but Bulls across his chest means something. Even through all the trade rumors, all the junk that goes on before the deadline, he has a winning attitude and a great spirit.’’

Boylen already insisted earlier this week that he had no plans to cut Lopez’s playing time, which the Bulls did last season when they started tanking.

With Wendell Carter Jr. (left thumb) ruled out for the season, the Bulls are thin at center and will continue to start Lopez in the middle. Lauri Markkanen also will get minutes there, as well as Cristiano Felicio in a pinch.

The way Boylen sees it, though, there’s always a place for Lopez’s skills.

“First of all, he brings a maturity and a work ethic,’’ Boylen said. “Practice is very important to him. His practice reps are very important to him. He fights for those, which I love when guys do that. He’s punctual, which is big for me. He cares about his craft. He’s an example to our young guys. He speaks up for the protection of the essence of the team, which I love, and we need.

“Besides what he does on the floor, in the pocket and on the boards. His communication and his selflessness, those are great, too. But he’s a team guy, he’s a winning player, and I’m just thankful he’s here.’’

Waiting game

Boylen still was unsure of a possible return date for rookie forward Chandler Hutchison (right foot), but he did say he was progressing.


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“I just know from what I’ve seen that he’s out of the boot full-time, which is encouraging,’’ Boylen said. “I hate to lead anybody on with something I’m not sure of, but I can honestly say he’s progressing. Where that’s at, I don’t know. I know he had a good break because he has a nice tan from wherever he went.’’

Settling in

It admittedly has been a whirlwind last few weeks for Otto Porter Jr., going from his longtime home in the D.C. area to being traded before the deadline and getting his belongings to Chicago.

The All-Star break came at a perfect time for him.

“Anybody who gets traded in the middle of the season, it has some type of effect on them, whether it’s moving your family or leaving the organization that you worked really hard for,’’ Porter said. “But at the end of the day, it’s a business. So you have to deal with it for a couple of days, then move on.

“I did find an apartment. I’m good now. Now I can get some sleep.’’

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