Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison finally headed back to Chicago
While the full roster won’t be together anytime soon, all the players at least will be in the same city again. Considering all that’s gone on with the Bulls in the last 12 days, that’s a big deal.
Bulls coach Billy Donovan hopes the reunion finally will take place Monday.
Well, at least as much a reunion as the Bulls can have, considering all they have been through in the last 12 days.
Donovan said the NBA planned to get forward Chandler Hutchison back to Chicago from Washington, where he has been quarantined since testing positive for the coronavirus Dec. 30 during the Bulls’ two-game trip to the nation’s capital.
Hutchison, like guard Tomas Satoransky, has to continue to stay away from the team, but the Bulls hope to keep them engaged with Zoom meetings.
Both players will have to have a series of negative tests and show they suffered no collateral damage before they can return to individual workouts. But getting Hutchison back in his home city is a good first step.
‘‘Obviously, there was a period of time there that I think [Hutchison] was really struggling with the way he felt,’’ Donovan said before the Bulls’ 130-127 loss Sunday to the Clippers in Los Angeles. ‘‘I think he’s doing a lot better now.’’
Forward Lauri Markkanen and guard Ryan Arcidiacono, meanwhile, continued individual workouts at the Advocate Center over the weekend, with both remaining negative. Markkanen and Arcidiacono also went into the NBA’s health and safety protocol on that trip because of contact tracing.
‘‘To keep those guys engaged, we’ve tried to, in preparation before games, put them on a Zoom call so they can kind of feel like they’re in the locker room and a part of it,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘You know, just trying to keep them engaged as best we can until we get back. But we should have everybody back in Chicago by the time we get back.’’
Those four weren’t the only players absent from the game against the Clippers, either.
Forward Otto Porter Jr. left the game Friday against the Lakers because of spasms in his lower back and was unable to play against the Clippers. Guard Garrett Temple started in his place.
Donovan likes to keep his starting lineups and rotation plans close to the vest, but what happens to the bench when everyone is up and running?
Donovan has yet to have his entire roster available — with no conditioning concerns or minutes restrictions — this season, but the starting lineup he leaned on early was Zach LaVine and Coby White at guard, Markkanen and Patrick Williams at forward and Wendell Carter Jr. at center.
Porter, forward Thad Young, Temple and Satoransky are expected to give Donovan key minutes off the bench, which leads to a question about whether the rotation will stretch to 10. If so, will it be big man Daniel Gafford, swingman Denzel Valentine or Hutchison?
Williams’ education continued Sunday, with Donovan starting the 19-year-old rookie on two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
Williams already has guarded the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Lakers’ LeBron James this season, impressing all of his teammates.
‘‘Pat’s been playing incredibly well, especially for somebody going against these guys early,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘I think he’s been great.
‘‘His demeanor isn’t to back down from anybody; he just answers the call. Coach says, ‘All right, you’ve got LeBron today,’ or, ‘You’ve got Giannis.’ He’s like, ‘OK.’ You don’t see any shyness or laughing about it. It’s something I’ve noticed.’’
Leonard scored 35 points in the Clippers’ victory.