Serious injuries have now affected nearly every key piece of the Bulls‘ rebuilding effort, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The latest casualty is rookie Chandler Hutchison, who will be sidelined until at least the All-Star break with an “acute injury” to his right foot.
He joins Lauri Markkanen, who missed the first 23 games of the season with a right elbow injury, Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis, who both had extended absences with knee issues, Denzel Valentine, who is out for the year after ankle surgery, and Wendell Carter Jr., who may miss the rest of the season after thumb surgery.
The timing of Hutchison’s injury is unfortunate because he had just moved into the starting lineup when the Bulls traded Justin Holiday to Memphis.
“You see the confidence Hutch is playing with and the growth he has had, the confidence Wendell was playing with and the growth he has had,” coach Jim Boylen said. “And you forget about Denzel coming into his third year ready to go, pumped, had a great summer. So it’s gut-wrenching. It’s painful for them individually and painful for the team. It’s tough.”
There’s more from Chicago:
- Boylen has several options at small forward while Hutchison is out, Johnson adds in the same piece. Jabari Parker could be moved back into that spot or the team could try a smaller lineup with Wayne Selden or Shaquille Harrison. Regardless, Parker should see steady playing time after about a month of hardly leaving the bench. “The dude’s special,” Zach LaVine said of Parker. “He’s one of the only dudes on the team who has averaged 20 points per game in the NBA. He’s one of the most talented dudes on the team. I’m happy for him. It’s a tough situation, but he’s handling it well.”
- Chicago acquired Carmelo Anthony this week, but the move came five years later than the organization would have liked, Johnson notes in a separate story. The Bulls were serious suitors for Anthony when he was a free agent in 2014, and Johnson speculates that he could have been the missing piece to make the Bulls title contenders.
- Parker and Robin Lopez have dominated the trade deadline speculation in Chicago, but the most important decision may involve Dunn, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The third-year point guard will become eligible for an extension this summer, and the Bulls have to decide soon whether he will be part of their future. Mayberry notes that the team recently scouted Murray State point guard Ja Morant, who now projects as a top five pick.