Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison’s return won’t mean playing time
After missing 20 games (and counting) for “personal reasons,” Hutchison can’t be guaranteed a rotation spot when he’s ready to come back. It will have to be earned.
The Bulls have handled the Chandler Hutchison situation with the sensitivity itdeserves.
Hutchison has missed the last 20 games because of “personal reasons’’ even though he has been practicing and dressing the last few weeks.
The good news for the 2018 first-round pick is he announced that he’s ready to return on his social-media account, and coach Billy Donovan confirmed that’s the case. The bad news is he might not like the role he’s returning to.
It was a fight for Hutchison to find rotation minutes before his latest shutdown. Being absent since Feb. 6 didn’t exactly help his situation.
“My initial response to that would be I haven’t seen him in practice,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘It’s probably something that he is going to have to wait his turn for when an opportunity presents itself. But I don’t necessarily anticipate him just all of a sudden coming back into the rotation. With guys testing positive, with different protocols, with injuries, with the number of games, he, like anybody else, needs to keep himself ready.
“That’s not to say that at some point he could not get back in the rotation, but I would not say it will be when he feels like, ‘OK, I’m ready to take this next step, I’m ready to get back to the team and I’m ready to make myself available for games.’ I would say at least at the beginning part, he would probably not be in the rotation at that point in time.’’
Hutchison’s return will be welcomed, however, because he adds depth to a small-forward spot that could use some bodies, and with the trade deadline on Thursday, he adds more options to the equation.
Ideally, the Bulls would love to move the remainder of Otto Porter’s $28 million contract, but they would likely have to take a bad contract in return, so they’d gain little unless a high draft asset was added.
Hutchison definitely won’t be jumping Porter or rookie Patrick Williams in the rotation, so he would need some roster movement to change his immediate standing.
Talking practice? Practice?
Since the second half of the season started, the Bulls have gotten in a few light practices and one intense shootaround. That’s it.
And Donovan said that won’t be changing much, especially with the crowded schedule every team is dealing with.
“[Sunday] was a walkthrough in the [hotel] ballroom,’’ Donovan said. “We used the ballroom floor and taped off a court. And you walk through things. It’s through film, getting guys individual clips of things they can get prepared and ready for on a given night, but a lot of it, to be honest with you, is the visual part of what has taken place on film for them.’’
According to Donovan, the Bulls could have a better idea for Garrett Temple’s return from a sprained left ankle when they get players back in their own facility on Monday.
“It’s been really encouraging to see the way he has responded,’’ Donovan said. “It’s a little bit more difficult on the road with the lack of facilities to maybe do some running, cutting, sprinting.
“Everything they have put in front of him physically to do, he’s responded to, and we’ve been able to take the next step in his rehab, so I feel pretty good about the way he has responded coming off the injury.’’