Bulls shut down rookies, but hope to get LaVine, Porter back
This doesn't qualify as unexpected news, but Bulls vice president John Paxson announced before Saturday's game that rookies Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison are officially done for the season.
There was never any mention of Carter coming back after having surgery on his left thumb. Carter has resumed basketball activities, so it's conceivable he'd play if the Bulls were headed to the playoffs.
Hutchison has been out since Jan 25 with a toe injury. He was expected back, but the injury has taken more time to heal than originally thought.
Meanwhile, Zach LaVine missed his second straight game with a right thigh bruise and Otto Porter Jr. missed his third straight with a shoulder strain. But there has been no talk yet of shutting down those guys for the season.
"Because that's not what we think is going to help this franchise the most," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. "We're trying to build a competitive spirit, a team that's going to honor Bulls across their chest and play for the city. We don't feel shutting people down is a way to build that.
Plenty of fans will claim finishing in the bottom three and getting a 14-percent chance at the top draft pick is more important.
"I understand the fans, I understand that part of it," Boylen said. "I was in Houston when we got Yao (Ming), so I get it. But we feel for this group of guys that we're going to keep pushing us to compete and play for each other, and honor the principles we're trying to establish. So that's it. I know that's disappointing to some, but that's what we're doing."
Hutch plans to shoot:
Chandler Hutchison played in 44 games during his rookie season, started 14 and averaged 5.2 points. He said a goal for the offseason is to improve his offensive skills.
"I feel like I'm going to definitely put in a ton of shots," Hutchison said. "That's what got me here. But I also think my confidence level is going to be at a completely different place. Now when I'm in that spot, rhythm, knocking it down, it's going to be something that a lot of people are going to think, 'Oh yeah, he can really shoot the ball.'"
Hutchison thought he'd be back playing by now, but is resigned to learning as much as he can by watching.
"I think they said that it was about 75 percent," Hutchison said of his toe. "So that's kind of a bummer. Maybe if it was like 90, 95, we'd be having a different conversation. It's more of a waiting game."
Bulls seek better health:
John Paxson talked a little bit about what's ahead this summer. He promised to keep an open mind about re-signing Robin Lopez and talked about trying to help Otto Porter Jr. get through some of the injuries that have limited his time on the floor.
"He has had some nagging things throughout his career," Paxson said. "We're aware of that and we're going to monitor it. Right now, he hurt his shoulder and his neck has been bothering him. It seems like it's been one thing after another.
"For a guy like Otto and his longevity as a player, the offseason becomes important as far as establishing a base with your strength and conditioning. We're not ruling him out (for the season) completely yet but it's kind of trending that way."